Horgan Heads to Ottawa Summit Still Fighting Pipeline

Province’s position unchanged in advance of Sunday meeting with Trudeau, Notley.

By Andrew MacLeod 13 Apr 2018 |

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

Premier John Horgan gave no signs of softening his position on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline Thursday as he prepared to leave Victoria for a weekend meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

“We’re heading to Ottawa at the request of the prime minister to talk about the status of the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” Horgan told reporters Thursday. “I have nothing more to add to that really.”

Trudeau is returning from Peru, where he is attending the Summit of the Americas, for the Sunday meeting with Horgan and Notley. He is delaying a scheduled trip to France and the United Kingdom.

B.C.’s position that the government has the constitutional right to protect the province’s interests has been clear, Horgan said. “We are in court following the rule of law. We’re developing a question with respect to jurisdiction that will be referred to a court in short order.” The province has been issuing permits as they’ve been requested, he said.

“I don’t feel there’s any need for sabre rattling, for provocation or for threats, but we are where we are and I’m happy to hear what the prime minister and perhaps Rachel Notley have to say,” Horgan said.

Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. announced Sunday that it is suspending all non-essential activity and spending on the pipeline, in part due to “the continued actions in opposition to the project by the Province of British Columbia.”

The company said it would consult with stakeholders before May 31 in hopes of protecting shareholders and gaining clarity on its ability to construct the pipeline through B.C.

Notley has said Alberta would consider taking an ownership stake in the pipeline and has been pressing the federal government to ensure B.C. co-operates in getting it built. The federal government approved Trans Mountain in 2016 and it was supported by the former BC Liberal government.

During last year’s B.C. election campaign, the NDP promised it would use “every tool in the toolbox” to stop the pipeline. The agreement the party reached with the BC Green Party to form government includes a clause promising the government would oppose the project.

Horgan said the best way forward is for Alberta and the federal government to join the planned court reference to determine B.C.’s jurisdiction.

“What we’re doing is articulating the concerns in court of British Columbians who do not want to see their environment or their economy devastated by the potential consequences of a diluted bitumen spill in our coast, in our lands, in our waters,” Horgan said.

“I will defend to the end the rights of British Columbia to stand up and defend our coast,” he said.

Federal spending on spill response should continue regardless of whether or not the pipeline proceeds, Horgan said. There are serious risks of spills every day on the coast, he said. “I think we need to be prepared. I’m not convinced we’re prepared today.”

Horgan said he’s open minded about the meeting. “I’m optimistic by nature. It’s always a good idea to talk,” he said. “I believe the interests of Canada have to be front and centre, but we have different views of what those interests are, and that’s the beauty of our co-operative federation.”

The $7.4-billion Trans Mountain project would expand the existing pipeline’s capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000, according to Kinder Morgan. The pipeline carries oil and petroleum products from Alberta to the coast, and supporters argue expanding it is necessary to get Canadian oil to international markets.

Some 200 people have been arrested while protesting the project, including federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Burnaby South NDP MP Kennedy Stewart. Opponents of the project include several environmental groups and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Environment

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