Trans Mountain pipeline approval a ‘betrayal’ of British Columbia: Critics
Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian leads a chorus of criticism against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to approve Kinder Morgan’s project.
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British Columbians have been betrayed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, critics seethe.
Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian called Tuesday’s decision by the federal government a broken Liberal election promise to fix the way energy projects are evaluated and to get social license before approving pipelines.
“He’s pushing through a pipeline with no social license. I think most British Columbians, particularly those who voted Liberal believing Mr. Trudeau’s promises, will feel a profound sense of betrayal today,” said the New Democratic Party representative. “Having come to B.C., having made commitments that he just so clearly broke … to First Nations, to the people of the Lower Mainland, to municipalities … I think his own credibility is in tatters.”
In approving the $6.8 billion pipeline expansion from Edmonton to Burnaby – which will increase oil tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet by seven times – Trudeau risks soiling his relationship with First Nations and political leaders in British Columbia.
“Vancouver’s work with the federal government on transit, housing, welcoming refugees and other shared priorities has been overwhelming positive, but approving Kinder Morgan’s heavy oil pipeline expansion is a big step backwards for Canada’s environment and the economy,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson, who has enjoyed a friendly relationship with Trudeau, in a statement. “I – along with tens of thousands of residents, local First nations, and other Metro Vancouver cities who told the federal government a resounding ‘no’ to this project – will keep speaking out against this pipeline expansion.”
Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Philip also called the decision a betrayal.
“We are outraged with Prime Minister Trudeau’s cavalier ‘50/50’ announcement, and with the sheer audacity of his refusal to acknowledge the serious erosion of Indigenous rights and the extreme impacts on climate change that will certainly result from [Trans Mountain],” he said.
The provincial government took a more neutral tone.
“In anticipation of a federal decision, our government has been consistent in fighting for British Columbia with the five conditions for any new or expanded heavy-oil pipeline,” said B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak. “That remains the case today, and we will work to ensure each of our conditions are met.”
Trudeau accepted his announcement to approve the Trans Mountain expansion – while also rejecting the Enbridge Northern Gateway project once and for all, and keeping a moratorium on tanker traffic off the north coast of B.C. in place permanently – would be hard to swallow for some, especially in B.C.
“We respect that and we respect their right to hold and voice their beliefs,” Trudeau said of opposition to the project. “If I thought this project was unsafe for the B.C. coast, I would reject it. This is a decision based on rigorous debate, on science and on evidence. We have not been and will not be swayed by political arguments, be they local, regional or national.”
Trudeau said the Kinder Morgan approval, which includes 157 binding conditions set out by the National Energy Board, would create 15,000 new middle-class jobs.
“And as long as Kinder Morgan respects the stringent conditions put forward by the National Energy Board, this project will get built - because it's in the national interest of Canadians, because we need to get our resources to market in safe, responsible ways, and that is exactly what we're going to do,” he said.
-with files from the Canadian Press
More B.C. reaction to Kinder Morgan's approval
“This is not the end all to this pipeline issue. It’s unfortunately the beginning of a long road. It doesn’t change our opposition whatsoever.” -Charlene Aleck, Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative
“The federal government is doubling down on continued reliance, and indeed expansion, of Canada’s oil industry. It’s pretty much a sure thing that there will first be lots of litigation and I expect we will see a lot of protests in the streets.” - Kathryn Harrison, UBC climate policy expert
“Approving this project flies in the face of both provincial and federal commitments to reconcile with Indigenous British Columbians and First Nations communities. It undermines our climate change goals, and threatens our endangered resident orca population.” – John Horgan, BC NDP
“[The project] will provide a $6.8-billion injection into Canada’s economy, including federal, provincial and municipal tax revenue that will help pay for the public services that we all rely on. Here in Greater Vancouver, the project will generate more than a billion dollars in construction spending, create thousands of high-paying jobs, and help attract new investment to our region.” – Iain Black, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade
“Rejecting Enbridge does nothing to reduce the risks associated with Kinder Morgan’s pipeline and tankers. Community opposition to the project has never been stronger, and as we’ve seen with Northern Gateway, that’s what will prevent this pipeline from ever being built.” – Jessica Clogg, West Coast Environment Law