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Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer urged the Liberal government Monday to move to fast-track the reapproval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, arguing the health of Western Canada’s energy industry is at stake.

Mr. Scheer told an Ottawa news conference the government should pass emergency legislation to avoid a renewed hearing by the National Energy Board (NEB), and fast-track consultations with First Nations through the appointment of a special representative.

Construction on the pipeline project was halted after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the federal approval in late August. The Conservative Leader said Ottawa should seek a stay of that ruling and launch an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, even as it pursues other avenues to get it back on track.

“This is a rescue plan for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. It is comprehensive and robust. It makes use of every tool the government has at its disposal to get this project back on track,” Mr. Scheer said.

In its ruling, the appeal court said the government fell short in its consultations because it sent “note takers” without decision-making power to meetings with Indigenous Leaders and failed to address specific issues of concern raised by different bands. Mr. Scheer called on the government to appoint a special ministerial representative who could consult effectively with First Nations and seek to accommodate their concerns about the impact of the project.

Mr. Scheer also urged the government to introduce emergency legislation that would declare that Transport Canada – not the NEB – has jurisdiction over marine traffic and has done the required analysis of increased tanker traffic from the pipeline expansion.

The appeal court concluded the NEB failed to adequately consider the increase in marine tanker traffic – including the impact it would have on endangered killer-whale populations – when it recommended the government approve the project with a series of conditions.

On Friday, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced Ottawa was sending the matter back to the NEB to reconsider the marine traffic issues, but set a tight 22-week deadline for it to conclude its work.

The government will soon be indicating how it intends to re-engage with First Nations, the minister said Monday in the House of Commons.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Sohi later accused the previous Conservative government of cutting corners “at every turn” by disregarding environmental concerns and ignoring Indigenous peoples.

“This afternoon, Andrew Scheer doubled-down on this approach,” spokeswoman Vanessa Adams said. “It’s clear that the Conservatives have learned nothing from their decade of failure.”

Ottawa may also appeal the decision – as Mr. Scheer urged Monday – but such a move would amount to a longer-term effort to clarify the law, rather than a short-term fix for the Trans Mountain delay.

“What the Liberals announced just last week was another six months of delay, and not addressing any of the actual issues around consultations,” Mr. Scheer said.

The Liberal government purchased the existing pipeline earlier this year from Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. for $4.5-billion and will finance the expansion project, with the hope of selling it to private-sector operators.

The Trans Mountain project would triple deliveries of crude from Alberta to Vancouver harbour, boosting export capacity by some 590,000 barrels a day. The lack of pipeline export capacity is contributing to the steep discount in the price Alberta producers can fetch for the crude, as compared with U.S. prices.

Mr. Scheer criticized the Liberals’ handling of pipeline assessments. Under a Conservative government, he said he would repeal the carbon tax and vowed to take concrete measures to ensure speedier approval, including using a declaratory power in the Constitution to prevent provinces from blocking construction of projects Ottawa deems to be in the national interest. He also vowed to block activists who receive financial support from outside Canada from participating in pipeline review hearings.

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