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Trudeau and Horgan meet; sidestep pipeline debate

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World Pipelines,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and new B.C. Premier John Horgan sidestepped the contentious debate surrounding the future of the planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion as the two leaders held a first meeting in Ottawa.

Instead, the pair said they were focused on issues of common ground, including the economy, the opioid crisis, raging wildfires in B.C. and reconciliation with Indigenous people.

Trudeau said they were both "progressive politicians" who have plenty of areas for priority, and that disputes would be worked out.

"Difficult issues come up. We're going to work together to resolve them," Trudeau said.

Horgan said he has begun meeting with affected First Nations groups, but he has not yet had thorough briefings from government lawyers on the legal issues at play.

The two traded witty banter: when Horgan spilled a glass of water and noted, "Spills can happen anywhere," in reference to the potential for an oil spill with a pipeline.

"We'll get people to clean that up right away!" Trudeau rebutted, to which Horgan shot back: "There's a federal response for that."

Trudeau's government approved the CAN$7.4 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project last fall, but Horgan campaigned against it and has pledged to fight the project.

Kinder Morgan said last week that construction is on schedule to begin in September.

Horgan wanted to focus on the common issues between them: “Where we disagree on the Trans Mountain Pipeline; I have yet to have a thorough briefing from the attorney general’s ministry on legal cases that are currently in play. I have met with the leaders of the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Squamish First Nations and have heard very clearly their views on the matter and we’ll deal with those in the weeks and months ahead. But for today, our focus is on helping those who need help and building on the relationship that we need to have on those critical issues of helping the middle class and making life more affordable for British Columbians.”

The two leaders are, for now, avoiding a showdown on a major issue on which they profoundly disagree: the expansion of Kinder Morgan's TransMountain pipeline.

Trudeau's government has approved the project but Horgan's NDP government has vowed to use every legal tool available to block it.

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