VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – NDP Leader Adrian Dix vows to pull the province out of a federal environmental review of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline if his party is elected next May.

Dix says a government led by him would, within a week of taking office, tell Ottawa that BC is withdrawing from the review and would create a provincial one, even though he says he’s opposed to the massive, $6 billion pipeline.

“To build this process requires BC environmental approval,” Dix says. “The current BC government’s dealing with that by giving it to the federal government. They had other options, and we’re saying we should use those other options.”

Dix argues the Liberal government has essentially given up BC’s ability to review the project and accuses the province of withholding reports it has done on the pipeline, which he claims First Nations groups have applied to have produced.

“It is hiding evidence that it has from the joint review process. That’s how determined the Liberal government in BC [is] to avoid political responsibility here,” Dix believes.

“We have a federal process… making a critical decision that’s essential to British Columbia that includes no British Columbians on the panel, that has no evidence from the province of British Columbia, and were British Columbia has abdicated its regulatory responsibility,” he adds.

Lawyer Murray Rankin says BC has the ability under its jurisdiction to “take positions” on trying to block the pipeline from being built.

“The question of whether, ultimately, the approval is federal or provincial will be one that constitutional lawyers are going to be discussing over the next few years,” Rankin says. “[It is] right in saying that the primary jurisdiction over an inter-provincial pipeline is federal. That does not mean, however, that there isn’t a number of provincial powers that could come to play in [a] circumstance like this.”

Environment Minister Terry Lake argues Dix is playing politics with the review.

“This is a man and a party that has said that they are against the proposal before it even goes through any environmental assessment,” he says. “So why he now determines that a second environmental assessment is necessary is beyond me.”

“We have represented the interests of British Columbia by acting as an intervener in this process. We’ve been following it very closely. We will be cross-examining Enbridge,” Lake adds.
He says the pipeline must still meet BC’s five requirements, including that the province receive a “fair share” of economic benefits.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford has refused to consider sharing resource royalties with BC.

The joint review panel looking at the pipeline is to report back at the end of 2013, while the federal cabinet is set to decide on the project in 2014.

As for what his plan could do to BC’s relations with Ottawa, Dix says he hopes to keep it professional should he become premier in 2013.

“It’s my intention to have a business-like relationship with whoever is Prime Minister, whether that’s Mr. Harper or Mr. Mulcair.”