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BC government not backing away from Kinder Morgan fight

Last Updated Feb 1, 2018 at 6:40 am PDT

A chain link fence with razor wire floating in Burrard Inlet, surrounding Kinder Morgan's oil tanker terminal. (Source: Twitter @BCSeaWolves)

'My job at the federal level is to always stand up for the interests of all Canadians': Justin Trudeau

'Our job is to protect BC's coastline and our environmental interests': BC Environment Minister

VANCOUVER – BC’s government is defending proposed policies that could create further uncertainty for oil shipments from Alberta to the West Coast.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says there will be consequences if BC goes ahead with the proposals.

But BC’s Environment Minister George Heyman says he’s just doing his job.

“Premier Notley and the Government of Alberta and my government simply agree to disagree to disagree on this issue. Our job is to use our laws, in this case, the Environmental Management Act, to protect BC’s coastline and our environmental interests.”

He says the government will continue to work with the Albertan government.

“I think it’s important in Canada that we move forward and find ways to protect our environments and our economies through co-operation. That’s always my goal.”

BC announced plans yesterday to ban increased shipments of diluted bitumen off its coast until it can determine that shippers are prepared and able to properly clean up a spill.

Trudeau weighs in

It didn’t take long for the Alberta/British Columbia dispute to find its way to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Winnipeg town hall.

The prime minister was asked a question by a member of the Manitoba First Nations.

Clayton Thomas-Muller began his question by telling him he supported the announcement of the British Columbia to place a new moratorium on “tar sands” shipments to the coast.

“I support it because I believe in climate action, clean water and in respecting Indigenous rights,” he said. “You said yourself, only communities grant permission for massive pipelines, now it’s time for you to live up to your word. We already know that First Nation municipalities and people all across BC do not consent to Kinder Morgan. Now the BC government has made its position clear as well by blocking new tar sands shipments. Will you support the actions of First Nations, the BC government, and their citizens or will you stand behind big oil and tear our country apart by going against the BC government on the Kinder Morgan pipeline?”

Trudeau rejected the premise of the ultimatum in his question and began by telling the room, provinces often have disagreements with one another on policy and programs.

“My job at the federal level is to always stand up for the interests of all Canadians, that’s why we put in place a process understanding that you can’t make a choice between what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy, you have to make sure you’re taking care of both of them fully at the same time,” he replied.

According to the prime minister, that’s why they went through the consultation process and added there have been voices both against and in favour of the pipeline in British Columbia.

“We made a determination on Kinder Morgan as being in the national interest, now let me tell you something, I grew up spending my summers in BC, my mom’s family is from BC, I grew up on that coast. If I thought there was a danger to beautiful British Columbia’s coast we would not have approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline.”

Trudeau says they moved forward on that pipeline while making historic investments into ocean protection. They also moved forward on the national carbon pricing plan that almost every province in the country has agreed to put on a national price on carbon.

“Reducing our emission is essential,” he said. “Now there are folks out there who still think it’s a choice, protect the environment or grow the economy but what Canadians now, what I know and even what you know sir I’m sure is we need to both create a better future for Canadians and protect our environment at the same time.”

The website reverential ecology refers to Thomas-Muller as an activist for Indigenous self-determination and environmental justice.