Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd., must be laughing all the way to check on his stock options since the Trudeau government offered to use public funds to bail out the company’s stalled Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project.
Anderson earned almost $2.9 million last year in salary, stock awards and other compensation, according to company documents — and that was only from June through December.
Kinder Morgan Canada’s vice-president, David Safari, collected $1.95 million in stock awards and other compensation during the same seven-month period.
But that’s latte money compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual dividend earnings of Texas billionaire Richard Kinder, who was the CEO of parent company Kinder Morgan Inc. until 2015.
Wednesday night, in its quarterly financial report, Kinder Morgan Inc. announced results so strong it beat its own rosy forecast for the first segment of 2018.
With US$80 billion in assets, cash is flowing and North America’s largest energy infrastructure company — which owns 70 per cent of Kinder Morgan Canada — is back in growth mode.
“Kinder Morgan Inc. Starts 2018 Off with a Bang,” read Thursday’s Yahoo Finance headline.
Yet Canadian taxpayers will be the ones to feel the biggest whomp if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley follow through on new promises to back the project financially, with Trudeau calling the Kinder Morgan pipeline a “vital strategic interest” for the country.
Notley even suggested earlier this week that her government might buy the pipeline outright if Kinder Morgan opts to abandon the $7.4 billion project once the corporation’s May 31 deadline for resolution of the fractious inter-provincial dispute has passed.
Oh happy days for Kinder Morgan’s millionaires.
Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, earned almost $2.9 million between June and December alone. That’s latte money compared to the hundreds of millions in annual dividend earnings of Texas billionaire Richard Kinder. https://t.co/HaZQM4rVPF
— DeSmog Canada (@DeSmogCanada) April 20, 2018
Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said it is a “terrible” idea for Canadians to “bail out — apologies, ‘invest in’ ” — the profitable Houston-based corporation that owns 137,000 kilometres of pipelines and 152 terminals.
“This is not appropriate,” Wudrick told DeSmog Canada. “There is absolutely no reason public money should be going to these companies.”
Which companies? Well, Honda, for one. Last year, the Japanese conglomerate received $84 million in taxpayer funding.
And Bombardier, the world’s leading manufacturer of planes and trains, has been diving deeply into the public trough for years, even though the Bombardier family that controls the company is among Canada’s richest and the company’s top executives, already earning millions a year, were offered a hefty pay hike after a $1 billion infusion of public money last year.
“This is very offensive to most Canadians,” Wudrick said. “If people in the private sector are going to make a lot of money, it’s their own money and their own business and good for them. But taxpayers should not be funding the salaries of these executives.”
The high salaries of Kinder Morgan executives are “just one illustration” of why the company should not receive any public money, said Wudrick, who supports the pipeline while opposing a taxpayer bailout.
He believes that Trudeau and Notley have made a strategic mistake by saying how desperate they are to build a pipeline to carry product from Alberta’s oilsands to tankers on B.C.’s coast.
“Kinder Morgan now knows that, and I think frankly they’re going to drive a hard bargain. They essentially have the premier of Alberta and the prime minister of Canada by the throat and they can say ‘unless you pay us x dollars, we’re going to back out.’ ”
“That’s a very bad negotiating position for government.”
So far it looks like the big winner of the inter-provincial brawl is not B.C. or Alberta but Kinder Morgan, which appears to be emboldened by the discord.
Duff Conacher, a founder of the civic organization Democracy Watch, called Kinder Morgan’s new May 31 deadline for resolving the conflict “an attempt at extorting a step forward” that should be rejected.
“If the pipeline is such a great idea and it’s profitable, and if Kinder Morgan decides they are not going to build it, based on their completely artificial May 31 deadline, then presumably some other company will step up and build it,” Conacher pointed out in an interview.
“Why should the government jump into the market on behalf of one company?”
Those advocating for an infusion of public money into the Kinder Morgan pipeline claim the project is a guaranteed moneymaker, even though oil shipments from the existing pipeline to the lucrative Asian market have dwindled and most tankers leaving the Port of Vancouver now head south to California.
If twinning the pipeline does make sound financial sense, Wudrick also said another company will come forward to complete the project, which will triple the existing pipeline’s capacity and involve construction of 12 new pump stations, 19 new storage tanks and three new marine berths located at the Westridge Marine Terminal in the Burrard Inlet near Vancouver.
Federal officials said Thursday that the offer of financial assistance would extend to other companies if Kinder Morgan decides to walk away.
Conacher, a lawyer, academic and internationally recognized leader in the areas of democratic reform and government accountability, said it is up to the courts to decide what is in the national interest, based on the law and evidence.
“What is in the national interest is a question of law. And the government should not be taking steps to help a company do something that the government says is in the national interest until the Supreme Court of Canada has defined what that means.”
He said building the pipeline is unquestionably in the short-term interests of Alberta.
“But I don’t think the national interest is based on the short-term interest of one party in one province.”
The B.C. government announced this week that it will file its reference case on the ability of the province to regulate the transport of diluted bitumen in the Court of Appeal by April 30th, putting the much-debated constitutional question to the test.
The appropriate timeline for a final decision about whether or not to proceed with the Kinder Morgan pipeline should be the timing of a legal ruling, Conacher said, and not Kinder Morgan’s self-serving corporate deadline.
“If Kinder Morgan doesn’t like it then they can leave.”
Wudrick said other foreign corporations are watching the unfolding pipeline drama closely.
Canada needs to be a country that is welcoming to business, he said, adding that it is a very different matter and a “very expensive proposition” to subsidize businesses with public money.
“It will only attract the wrong kinds of business, the businesses that are interested in sucking money out of government rather than trying to make money in the marketplace. The fact that both the premier of Alberta and the prime minister have been so quick to offer of up taxpayers’ money sends a very dangerous signal.”