Thanks very much, Minister Morneau, for being here today.
You'll recall that the last time I questioned you at finance committee we talked about the cost of the Trans Mountain pipeline. At the time, you indicated there was no updated construction schedule around Trans Mountain, and you thought the figures at the time, $7.4 billion, did not need to be updated. Subsequent to that, of course, we found out that the construction costs have now ballooned to more than $12 billion, $12.6 billion. Including the purchase cost, we're now talking about over $17 billion—I'll assume by the public purse—at the same time as Trans Mountain is losing, after interest charges, you'll agree, about $150 million a year.
We had important testimony on February 3 from your finance officials, who basically said that the financing of Trans Mountain on the public dime would occur through the Canada account of the EDC, which is subject to approval from you and the Minister of International Trade.
Therefore, my first question is this: What is the limit in terms of what you are prepared to have the taxpayers assume around Trans Mountain? What are the criteria? Already, even from the estimate two weeks ago, construction costs seem to be increasing, so we could well have other surprises.
Second, the fact that Trans Mountain has now admitted that construction costs have increased allows the shippers now to pull out with the revised fee schedule. There are only two doors: One is that there's a revised fee schedule, shippers pull out and the whole Trans Mountain house of cards collapses; the other is subsidies from the federal government to under-support the actual cost of shipping. Is the federal government, the ministry of finance, contemplating subsidies to the shippers to keep Trans Mountain afloat?
Those are my two questions to start.