OTTAWA – Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr says the government will not entertain any attempts by British Columbia to stall or stop the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Carr is responding to a Conservative motion calling on the government to use every tool at its disposal to get the pipeline built and report to Parliament on its plans by Feb. 15.
Carr says the Conservatives are trying to manufacture a crisis and that BC is very aware Canada can and will do what it takes to exert its authority to have the pipeline built.
But Kennedy Stewart, the NDP MP for Burnaby South says it’s not clear just how far Carr is willing to go to keep protesters from further stalling the project, pointing to a claim Carr has made in the past.
“[The] natural resources minister has already said he will use the military or police forces to push this pipeline through municipalities, through reserves. I think that is an unconscionable thing to say and so, I’ve been pressing him here in the House of Commons. When directly asked, he would not say this was not an option.”
“We should be very concerned. In March, there are mass protests that are being planned and that is going to be the first time we’ll see where the Liberals truly stand on this pipeline,” he adds.
NEWS 1130’s Parliament Hill Reporter, Cormac MacSweeney spoke to Carr today, asking for clarification
Reporter: Would the government, at all, consider using the military or police forces to ensure that the Trans Mountain pipeline gets built?
Carr: I have said all along that we live in a country that enjoys all of the freedoms to protest. Civil disobedience is part of who we are, as a nation. And it’s a very important value. That’s all I’ll say.
Reporter: But the NDP asked you earlier today in debate whether the military could be a possible option or tool and they say that you haven’t exactly clarified whether that will or will not be an option for your government.
Carr: We make the point that peaceful protest is a part of who we are. It’s an essential fabric of who we are, as Canadians. We celebrate that freedom. Thank you.
Stewart is expecting a vote on the issue in the House of Commons this week.
Conservative natural resources critic Shannon Stubbs, however, says the government has been all talk and no action to this point and fears the government is happy to let the project die.
Kinder Morgan’s proposal to triple the capacity of the Alberta-BC pipeline hit a new snag last month when the BC government suggested it planned to restrict the flow of additional oil while it studies its oil-spill readiness.
Carr says all BC has done thus far is announce a plan to consult its residents about whether more research is needed, and that nothing has been done that should stop the construction of the $7.4-billion pipeline expansion.
Alberta not taking further retaliatory actions “for now”
Meanwhile, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says her province will not be taking any more retaliatory actions while the feds continue to speak with our provincial leaders.
But Notley but wants BC to acknowledge it “overstepped its authority.”
“They can drop point 5, follow the law, and halt their campaign of harassment of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Or they can dig in their heels and pretend they are a separate country with powers to make whatever laws they want, with no regard for the constitution or the views and rights of other Canadians.”
“We don’t seek an escalation. But if BC continues to insist that they have rights to attack Alberta’s economy that they don’t have, we will have no choice [but] to respond,” she adds.
Notley says she does not want a trade war. “But the government of British Columbia must understand that unconstitutional attacks on the jobs and economic security of their fellow citizens in a neighbouring province are simply not on. If they didn’t get it a week ago, I certainly hope that they get it now.”
“My understanding is that the federal government is talking with BC. As we end the second week of this dispute, for the time being, I am willing to let those talks continue without further retaliatory action,” says Notley.