Still ‘non-negotiable:’ Canada’s natural resources minister redraws line on Line 5


Mackinac Bridge in Michigan
Michigan’s Mackinac bridge, under which Enbridge’s line 5 pipeline runs.

WASHINGTON – Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is doubling down on Canada’s assertion that the continuing operation of the Line 5 pipeline is “non-negotiable.”

Wilkinson made the comments in the House of Commons today following media reports that the cross-border pipeline is facing yet another court challenge.

On top of efforts by the state of Michigan to shut down the line, an Indigenous band in Wisconsin is now asking a judge there to do the same.

The Globe and Mail reports that the Bad River Band of Lake Superior is arguing that Enbridge Inc., the pipeline’s owner, no longer has the right to operate on its territory.

The band filed a motion in February seeking a summary judgment against Enbridge — in other words, to shut down Line 5 without a trial.

That challenge comes as Enbridge tries to fend off Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who fears an ecological disaster in the Straits of Mackinac, where the twin lines cross the Great Lakes.

“The continued operation of Line 5 is non-negotiable,” Wilkinson said Friday in response to a question from Conservative MP John Brassard.

“We will take appropriate steps to ensure the continued safe operation of this critical infrastructure. And we continue to work closely with the owner of Line 5.”

In the Michigan case, Canada has invoked a 1977 bilateral pipelines treaty aimed at ensuring the uninterrupted flow of energy between the two countries, and has petitioned the court there to allow those talks to play out.

It’s not yet clear whether the federal Liberal government will do so again in the Wisconsin matter.

“Canada and the United States continue to be engaged in the process under the 1977 transit pipelines agreement to ensure the continued operation of Line 5,” Wilkinson said.

“Until this issue is resolved, I will continue to raise it with my U.S. counterparts as I have been doing on an ongoing basis.”


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