The Trudeau government won’t rule out full public financing for the Trans Mountain pipeline. What else could Canada buy?

The news shocked conservatives and oil tanker opponents alike: Ottawa is considering a full taxpayer bailout for Kinder Morgan. The Texas company – run by former Enron executives – hit pause on its B.C. pipeline project last week.

“We will not put shareholders at risk on the remaining project spend,” said CEO Steve Kean in Houston. So the federal government whipped out its cheque book. “The construction season is almost upon us,” Prime Minister Trudeau said on Sunday. “This pipeline will be built.”

In other words, Trudeau is willing to drive Canada even deeper into deficit to finance a project the free market wants nothing to do with. What else could taxpayers get for that money?

Kinder Morgan has not updated its estimated project cost for more than a year, meaning it’s probably out of date. And that doesn’t include policing or other social costs, which would already be borne by taxpayers. But for the sake of argument, let’s say it cost us $8 billion dollars to build.

For that amount we could fix drinking water systems and lift boil-water advisories in every single Indigenous community across Canada… Twice. And still have $1.6 billion left over. That kind of investment would create jobs across the country and improve health outcomes for thousands of people.

Or we could build 32,000 units of social housing, at a cost of a quarter-million dollars for each new home. On top of the construction jobs and money spent on local materials, what’s the long-term economic benefit of putting a roof over 32,000 families?

If you’re more a fan of tax cuts, the government could just hand that money back to citizens. 18.4 million Canadians pay income taxes every year. We could just give each of them a $435 refund. No emissions, no oil spills, no lawsuits.

Like military hardware? We could buy 13 more Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships. 75 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets. Or a couple thousand new Light Armoured Vehicles. With the change left over, we could take care of every wounded veteran in Canada for the rest of their life.

The point is, this is our money. We elect governments to spend it. But Justin Trudeau never said in the last election he would spend $8 billion of our money bailing out a Texas pipeline company. If he had, chances are he wouldn’t be Prime Minister today.

What would you buy with $8 billion of public money? Use the hashtag #IfIHadEightBillionDollars to share your ideas on social media. And don’t forget to send a message to MPs and cabinet ministers, telling them to stop this Texas tanker bailout.

Photo credit VICE News.