The option of Alberta buying the Trans Mountain pipeline will not increase the chances of the expansion project being completed, a former TransCanada executive says, adding that he believes the suggestion is a distraction from what actually needs to happen to get it built.

Dennis McConaghy, former executive vice-president of pipeline strategy and development at TransCanada, told BNN the next move in the Trans Mountain saga does not lie with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

“This whole notion of Alberta buying Trans Mountain is just a distraction from what has to actually take place here; which is the federal government has to act on enforcement, has to act on clarifying the removal of outstanding claims against this project and ensuring that there’s not any gaps in its actual authority,” McConaghy said Wednesday in an interview with BNN.

Alberta buying equity in the project doesn’t solve the opposition that the project is facing in some parts of British Columbia, according to McConaghy.

“That antipathy is not going to go away just because of public ownership,” he said. “The federal government has to assert its authority essentially making what John Horgan does or doesn’t do irrelevant to building this pipeline.”

The comments from the former pipeline executive come after Notley said Tuesday that Alberta was considering a number of financial options to ensure that Trans Mountain gets built, including buying the pipeline outright.


But McConaghy reiterated that the project is under federal jurisdiction.

“It has an approval. Yes, there is a claim outstanding that needs to be resolved and like anything in life, you have to be prepared to stand behind your approvals to enable someone who’s got the rights to build this to actually get it done on the ground,” he said.

Kinder Morgan has given the federal government a May 31 deadline to give it concrete assurance that the pipeline will get built.

"We’re in a six week crisis of trying to preserve this thing," McConaghy said.   

He added that it is in the hands of the federal cabinet to legislate away the gaps in the project and reassure Kinder Morgan.

“The federal government is going to have to assume enforcement on the ground to deal with protesters, civil disobedience, and outright obstruction,” he said.

“The federal government is also going to have to be prepared to step in and provide requisite permits that are in the normal course usually provided by the province or the municipalities, so this project could actually proceed with confidence.”

If the project does fail, McConaghy said it would be a “terrible place” for Canada to be in, because the country would be viewed as one that “doesn’t have the capacity to stand behind its own approvals.”