VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Groups opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion — including First Nations and city leaders — will be holding a new conference at noon today in downtown Vancouver.
It follows a meeting between the fueding premiers of BC and Alberta and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa yesterday, where the PM promised to flex federal muscle and “remove the uncertainty” hanging over the project.
Trudeau was responding to Kinder Morgan’s announcement it was halting non-essential spending on the expansion of its pipeline from Alberta’s oilsands to the BC coast.
The prime minister is traveling in Europe today as MPs return to Ottawa after a two-week break. It is expected the Opposition Conservatives will call for an emergency debate on the Trans Mountain project.
Trudeau says legislation is likely this week that would re-assert federal jurisdiction over energy projects that cross provincial boundaries.
Meanwhile, the outcome of the joint meeting between Trudeau, BC Premier John Horgan and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is being seen as a win by those trying to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
NDP MP for Burnaby South Kennedy Stewart applauds Horgan for standing up for the province. He says the premier is emerging into one of the best leaders BC’s ever had.
“If you think about him, and how he’s led on this file and stood up for British Columbians, even working under the conditions of a minority government, it’s been extraordinary,” Stewart tells NEWS 1130.
He says nothing’s changed following the meeting, and adds it doesn’t matter how much money Trudeau throws at the project as long as consent from communities is lacking. And although the prime minister is adamant that the pipeline will get built, Stewart believes the PM doesn’t have a good track record on delivering his promises.
“You have to remember this is a prime minister who said we will change out electoral system and, we counted it up, it was 1800 times that he said this, and then he dropped it like a hot potato.”
Stewart, along with MP and Green Party leader Elizabeth May are expected in a Vancouver courtroom today where they and other activists arrested at a Kinder Morgan site on Burnaby Mountain are defending against charges of contempt.
Will George with Protect the Inlet is also happy Horgan stood firm.
“Thankful for Horgan standing up for BC, you know, something that Justin Trudeau should be doing.”
Both Stewart and George say Indigenous leaders should have been included in the talks.
“This leadership should have been at the table with Notley, with Horgan, and Trudeau,” says George “They should be at the table with them, absolutely.”
Meanwhile, supporters of the pipeline are happy the prime minister will exert federal jurisdiction over the project.
Chris Gardner with the Independent Contractors of Businesses Association of BC says this move increases the chances the pipeline expansion will happen but adds it’s problematic Trudeau was forced to make the move.
“We’ve got a private sector company, a business that wants to invest $7.4 billion in our economy and because we can’t figure it out, because our governments are fighting, Premier Horgan’s fighting with Alberta, Premier Horgan’s fighting with Ottawa, the federal government is saying they’re prepared to step in,” he says.
He’s criticizing Horgan for having a negative affect on the province’s economy and investor confidence.
“He went to Ottawa, he offered no solution and made a bad situation worse. Moreover, the justification is that, here’s a new government, a new government can change course. And that’s a challenge, and it’s very dangerous… for investors who are seeking stability and certainty.”
Kinder Morgan Canada also issued a statement reiterating the company needs certainty from all three governments involved before it can go forward with the project.
Political leaders weigh in
BC Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson says Horgan has “failed in this critical test of his ability to lead” BC.
In a statement, the official opposition leader adds “British Columbians deserve better”, saying Horgan has been deceiving his people for years.
He described the premier’s actions as cynical political-game playing that will ultimately cost people in this province.
Read Andrew Wilkinson’s full statement
“Today, John Horgan clearly stated what he has denied for months: that he has intentionally created a constitutional crisis and now has nothing to show for it.
“The Premier has been deceiving British Columbians for nearly a year, attempting to convince them he would stop the pipeline even though he has known all along it would never be possible. Despite being invited to Ottawa to collaborate and find a solution, Horgan has come home with nothing for B.C.
“Thanks to the Premier’s cynical political game-playing, British Columbians will likely be paying the price. Horgan is waving empty threats and his actions have resulted in no positive outcome for British Columbians who are looking for an end to this uncertainty.
“The Premier has failed in this critical test of his ability to lead our province. British Columbians deserve better.”
Meantime, BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is critical of the Prime Minister, saying he’s deeply troubled by Trudeau’s consideration to use “public funds to absorb investor risk in this project.”
“Three years into his mandate, it appears the Trudeau Liberals have no actual plan for transitioning to the low-carbon economy,” he says in a release. “This is a massive missed opportunity to make Canada a global leader in climate solutions.”
Weaver applauds Horgan for continuing to stand up for his province and its ability to protect its environment as well as the economy.
Read Andrew Weaver’s full statement
“I am encouraged to see Premier Horgan continue to stand up for B.C.’s right to protect our economy, our environment and our people,” said Weaver.
“It is deeply troubling that the Prime Minister is considering using public funds to absorb investor risk in this project. The message this sends to investors is that if they issue ultimatums for projects based on fundamentally faulty economic rationale, the Prime Minister will put taxpayer dollars on the line to bail them out. Since Kinder Morgan made its case to the NEB predicated on oil prices being at least $100 per barrel, markets have shifted dramatically and oil price projections are between $40-70 per barrel.
“This should concern all Canadians who took the Prime Minister at his word when he said he would build a clean, forward-looking economy. That means providing targeted incentives and support programs for industries who are embracing low-carbon solutions. Instead, the Prime Minister is doubling down on a sunset industry whose expansion puts our climate targets out of reach. We need to be investing in our shared future, not subsidizing the wealth of Texas oil companies.
“Three years into his mandate, it appears the Trudeau Liberals have no actual plan for transitioning to the low-carbon economy. This is a massive missed opportunity to make Canada a global leader in climate solutions. Worse, his insistence in pushing this project through despite significant Indigenous and community opposition risks everything that makes Canada great – our commitment to human rights, our beautiful natural environment and our international reputation as a peaceful nation of hard workers unafraid to tackle the challenges before us.
“B.C.’s world-leading climate policies introduced by Premier Gordon Campbell showed the world that climate action and a thriving economy are compatible. My caucus is working closely with Premier Horgan’s to develop a climate plan that will make B.C. a world leader once again. We will continue to provide this leadership in B.C. because we know it is the only way to secure a bright economic future for our province and for our country.”