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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa is open to proposals from the private sector for a refinery in British Columbia, as a public inquiry into the province’s soaring gas prices reviews possible solutions.

The prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is always open to hearing businesses cases and working with people to find solutions so they can pay their bills.

He made the comments in Victoria today following a joint announcement with Premier John Horgan of $79-million to support 118 new transit buses across the province.

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Horgan says that while the province wants a transition away from fossil fuel dependence, that transition should be aided by more refined product to give B.C. drivers relief.

Protesters planned to rally ahead of a Liberal fundraiser tonight to call for a stronger federal climate action and criticize Trudeau for his government’s approval and purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

But Trudeau told reporters that selling Canadian oil to American markets at a discount won’t help the environment, but redirecting some of the profits from the expansion will.

“Having 99 per cent of our oil go to the United States doesn’t do anything for our environment,” Trudeau said.

“Putting the profits from the TMX into the green transition will do a lot for the environment.”

The prime minister and premier announced a joint investment in transit among federal, provincial and municipal governments that will also allow for 10 long-range electric buses that would provide greener transportation options in Greater Victoria.

Trudeau told a crowd inside a BC Transit bus body shop that the buses will be more energy efficient and have improved accessibility and safety features as part of a public system that needs to keep pace with growing communities.

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Horgan said a strong transit system is essential to making communities more affordable and to greening the province’s transportation infrastructure.

The federal and provincial governments have each contributed $31-million for the new buses while municipalities are pitching in $16-million.

Trudeau was in Montreal earlier today, meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, and he’s hosting a fundraising event tonight in Victoria.

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