BAT­TLE OF THE PIPE­LINE BE­GINS

NDP and Greens vow to stop Trans Moun­tain

National Post (Latest Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Mia Rabson and Dirk Meiss ner

B. C. Premier Christy Clark ad­mit­ted Tues­day that her Lib­er­als looked doomed, but the ques­tion now is whether her fall will also kill off the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line project.

B. C. NDP Leader John Hor­gan and Green Party Leader An­drew Weaver on Tues­day vowed to use “ev­ery tool avail­able” to stop the ex­pan­sion of the pipe­line as they an­nounced a deal agree­ing to unite to form a mi­nor­ity govern­ment.

Hor­gan said they had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to “de­fend” the coast­line of Bri­tish Columbia against a pipe­line that would in­crease tanker traf­fic sev­en­fold off B.C.’s coast.

“The chal­lenge here is to demon­strate to Bri­tish Columbians, as we are to­day, that peo­ple from dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sions can come to­gether in the in­ter­est of Bri­tish Columbians so peo­ple don’t fear mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ments, in fact, they em­brace them,” Hor­gan said.

But the is­sue has all the hall­marks of a po­lit­i­cal bat­tle royal, both provin­cially and fed­er­ally.

Both Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and Al­berta Premier Rachel Not­ley de­fended the pipe­line ex­pan­sion on Tues­day, say­ing it was in the best in­ter­ests of all of Canada.

“We will con­tinue to ad­vo­cate on be­half of all Al­ber­tans and quite frankly all Cana­di­ans’ eco­nomic in­ter­ests to get that pipe­line done. And mark my words: that pipe­line will be built,” Not­ley said.

Trudeau also stood by the project.

“Re­gard­less of a change in govern­ment in Bri­tish Columbia or any­where, the facts and ev­i­dence do not change,” he told re­porters in Italy dur­ing an of­fi­cial visit.

The con­sti­tu­tion al­lows Trudeau in the­ory to de­clare the project to be for “the gen­eral ad­van­tage of Canada,” which would let Ot­tawa take con­trol. That could trig­ger po­lit­i­cal out­rage among pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments.

Fed­eral Con­ser­va­tives al­ready smell blood.

Newly-minted Leader An­drew Scheer said there were “forces unit­ing” to kill the Trans Moun­tain project and Trudeau did not have the po­lit­i­cal stamina to stand up to them.

“The Prime Min­is­ter per­son­ally ap­proved this pipe­line,” Scheer said in the House of Com­mons.

“He said that it was a fun­da­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity to get Cana­dian en­ergy to mar­ket. Will the Prime Min­is­ter fi­nally stand up to the forces that are seek­ing to kill these jobs, or will he fold like a card­board cutout?”

Greg MacEach­ern, a former Lib­eral strate­gist who is now a vice- pres­i­dent at En­vi­ron­ics, said what­ever hap­pened in the B.C. leg­is­la­ture there would be ar­eas of com- mon ground and room for ne­go­ti­a­tion.

“If there is a new NDP/ Green govern­ment they are also go­ing to have de­mands,” he said. “What this likely will come down to is the econ­omy.”

But fed­eral Green Party Leader El­iz­a­beth May said Tues­day she thought Trans Moun­tain was “dead.”

Both Hor­gan and Weaver cam­paigned against Trans Moun­tain, a fac­tor Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia pro­fes­sor Ge­orge Hoberg said was cer­tainly part of the elec­tion re­sult and a sign that a ma­jor­ity of Bri­tish Columbians did not want the pipe­line to be twinned.

“A l ot has c hanged,” said Hoberg, of the pol­i­tics around Trans Moun­tain.

While in­ter­provin­cial pipe­lines re­main the ju­ris­dic­tion of Ot­tawa, he said a province could put up road blocks, such as re­fus­ing log­ging per­mits for con­struc­tion or in­sist­ing on a pro­vin­cial en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment.

“If it does ei­ther of those things the fed­eral govern­ment would have to go to court to force B.C. to stand down and re­spect fed­eral ju­ris­dic­tion,” said Hoberg. “They would prob­a­bly win. That would take a cou­ple of years.”

He said any de­lays could fur­ther erode the con­fi­dence of investors, who were al­ready show­ing some skit­tish­ness about the project dur­ing Kinder Morgan’s ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing Tues­day.

Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia law pro­fes­sor Jo­ce­lyn Stacey agreed, say­ing, “There’s lots of room for the province to sort of com­pli­cate things, to drag things out.”

A source in the fed­eral govern­ment ac­knowl­edged events in B. C. had made peo­ple in Ot­tawa ner­vous. The pipe­line had al­ready caused strife for the rul­ing party among sup­port­ers and even within the cau­cus with sev­eral B.C. Lib­eral MPs op­pos­ing it.

The project would in­crease Pa­cific ex­ports of Canada’s land­locked crude, a move that would help the coun­try’s large oil in­dus­try. It has met op­po­si­tion from en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and abo­rig­i­nal groups in Bri­tish Columbia who are wor­ried about oil spills from the in­crease in tanker traf­fic it would cause.

Clark’s Lib­er­als won 43 seats in the May 9 elec­tion, but to­gether the Greens and NDP have 44.

Clark said she was not ready to walk away from of­fice be­fore re­call­ing the leg­is­la­ture to see if she could get sup­port to con­tinue gov­ern­ing.

But Clark ap­peared re­signed to los­ing a con­fi­dence mo­tion, open­ing the way for the sec­ond- place NDP to be given a chance to form a govern­ment by Lt.- Gov. Ju­dith Gui­chon.

Ul­ti­mately, Clark said, it would be up to the lieu­tenant- gover­nor to de­cide whether the NDP got the green light or whether a new elec­tion was called.

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