HASH(0xb4ba50)

B.C. NDP vows to fight Trans Mountain pipeline, but won’t say how

B.C. NDP vows to fight pipeline, but won't say how

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia New Democrat platform promises to use “every tool in the toolbox” to stop Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from going ahead.

But what are those tools? NDP Leader John Horgan isn’t saying.

“I’m going to be discussing those with the prime minister the day after the election,” he said on a campaign stop this week in Kamloops.

Standing on the bank of the South Thompson River, Horgan wasn’t far from where former NDP leader Adrian Dix proclaimed his opposition to Trans Mountain in 2013. Some pundits have declared the moment to be Dix’s fatal mistake in the election that saw Liberal Leader Christy Clark elected premier.

But Horgan faces entirely different circumstances ahead of Tuesday’s election. The federal government has already approved the $7.4-billion project, which would triple the bitumen-carrying capacity of the existing line from the Edmonton area to Burnaby, B.C. So despite his insistence he will fight the pipeline, some observers question whether it’s within his power.

“It’s natural to wonder whether this isn’t just a rhetorical posture,” said Richard Johnston, a political scientist at the University of British Columbia.

Despite its inclusion in the NDP platform, Trans Mountain hasn’t drawn much attention during B.C.’s four-week campaign. When asked about it in Kamloops, Horgan was quick to change the subject, saying there’s a range of issues he wants to raise with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Asked again to clarify what tools he had to stop the project, Horgan pointed out that the Squamish Nation and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in southwest B.C. have filed legal challenges against the federal government.

“There’s a whole host of other legal remedies available to us and we’ll be laying that out,” he said.

But while many voters in the Lower Mainland may oppose the project, workers and First Nations in rural B.C. tend to support it and the jobs it would bring. Speaking in North Vancouver on Wednesday, Horgan said he wasn’t worried that his position would lose him votes in the Interior.

“Not at all. I have a plan to create 96,000 construction jobs in British Columbia,” he said, referring to the NDP promise to create these jobs through building schools, hospitals, roads, housing and public transit.

If Horgan is elected on Tuesday, it will put Alberta and B.C. in the unprecedented position of having neighbouring NDP governments that fundamentally disagree on a major multibillion dollar project.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley declined to endorse Horgan ahead of the B.C. election and warned her staff not to campaign for him because of his opposition to the pipeline, which is seen as crucial to the revitalization of Alberta’s oilsands and to Notley’s political future.

Horgan downplayed the rift when asked about it in Merritt this week.

“Rachel and I had dinner last fall and agreed to disagree. We agree on so many other issues. But on this fundamental question for the people of Alberta, she has her responsibilities as the leader of a government. 

“I have my responsibilities and I believe a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic in our pristine marine environment is a risk too great.”

Johnston said Horgan could attempt to leverage B.C.’s co-operation on federal initiatives, such as the Canada Pension Plan or the carbon tax, to sway Trudeau’s government on Trans Mountain. But that would be a high-stakes game, risking not only relationships with the federal government but with Alberta and other provinces.

“That’s pretty toxic politics,” he said.

Horgan could revoke B.C.’s environmental permit for the project, but interprovincial pipelines fall under federal jurisdiction so the Canadian government’s permit is paramount, said Johnston.

He said it doesn’t seem that Trans Mountain is as much of a ballot box issue as it was in 2013. But the NDP appears focused on swing ridings in the Lower Mainland and must appeal to the environmental faction of its party while fending off challenges from the Greens, he said.

Johnston said he’s unsure if Horgan’s stand will clash with Clark’s emphasis on jobs in the same way that it did when Dix was running for the job. 

“Because … so what if John Horgan opposes it? The deal is done.”

— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An artist’s rendering of the proposed development that would replace the Hiawatha RV Park in Kelowna. (Contributed)
Eviction notice leaves Kelowna trailer park resident fearing homelessness

44 mobile home units at Hiawatha RV Park were served an eviction notice yesterday, making room for new development

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health records third COVID-19 death

A new community outbreak was reported at Okanagan Men’s Centre in Lake Country

(RCMP)
RCMP searching for missing Kelowna man

Nathan David Copp was last seen this morning, Oct. 28

(Kerkhoff Construction)
Large Glenmore rental development given greenlight by Kelowna council

The development will contain 238 rental apartment units across four five-storey buildings

Michael Rodriguez, Kelowna Capital News.
UPDATE: Natural gas leak on KLO Road

KLO Road is down to one lane alternating traffic while emergency crews are on scene

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

In May 2019, Brennan Joel Metlewsky and Jordan Robert Kupser were charged with attempted murder, robbery and aggravated assault stemming from an incident that took place in Vernon in 2017. (Facebook photo)
Attempted murder charges dropped for pair accused in Vernon stabbing

Brennan Metlewsky and Jordan Kupser will appear in Supreme Court to set a new trial date

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Eric Termuende and the Emily Dahl Foundation are presenting a virtual ‘fireside conversation’ on modern happiness from the stage of the Powerhouse Theatre in Vernon Nov. 3, 2020, at 7 p.m. (YouTube)
Mental health advocate joins happiness chat in North Okanagan

Versed public speaker teams up with Emily Dahl Foundation to equip virtual guests with tools to live a happier life

A boat moored at Turtle Bay Marina was reported stolen Oct. 1 and remains under investigation. (Contributed)
North Okanagan crimes remain unsolved

Boat stolen from marina, theft of siding and vehicle break and enter

Most Read