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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
I appreciate your answering these questions. I want to come back to TMX, and not just because taxpayers are currently subsidizing it. After interest charges, as we're all well aware, it's losing about $150 million a year. There's some real concern about putting more and more money into this.
I appreciated the comments around the EDC Canada Account. Just going on the disclosure form on the EDC website, they say that the Canada Account is for projects where “the risks are assumed by the Federal government”. We are talking about taxpayers' money here. Looking through the Canada Account, on the EDC website they do have a disclosure of 30 projects. It's about $7.5 billion this century. If we look at the size and scope of the cost overruns for Trans Mountain, most construction estimates vary now between $15 billion and $17 billion, much higher than the initial cost of about $7.5 billion. That eclipses in scope all of the Canada Account expenditures this century. That would be twice as much.
In terms of process, we finally get an updated construction cost. That means, say, $17 billion. It appears that cabinet has the ability, unless I'm wrong, to make that call and approve, through the Canada Account, risks assumed by the federal government of that $17 billion. Then, of course, we have the risk that the updated construction cost allows every single shipper, as economist Robyn Allan has pointed out, to pull out of the deal. It seems to be a bit of a house of cards.
I guess I'm wondering, first off, if our reading is correct that cabinet basically can make that decision even though it dwarfs all of the other expenditures around the Canada Account, at least this century. Is it entirely up to cabinet? What is the system of checks and balances around that? This is particularly in light of the impact on shippers' contracts and the fact that we could well end up with massive costs, with shippers pulling out for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they can legally do so once that updated construction cost is published.
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