Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at the Canadian Coast Guard base in Victoria Thursday afternoon, talking marine safety and spill prevention during his whirlwind tour of western Canada.
He also used the opportunity to confirm what some British Columbians may not want to hear, that Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline is going ahead regardless of the ongoing protests both at the company’s Burnaby terminal or today’s event in Victoria.
“This pipeline is in the national interest, and it will be done,” said Trudeau, during a brief question period with reporters.
Protesters outside the gates of the base demanded a stop to the pipeline expansion. They’ve said the pipeline project, approved by the federal government in 2016, was done without consent from Indigenous and local communities.
Opponents have long argued that Canada will not be able to keep its climate change commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in order to meet 2015 international climate treaty obligations, if the project moves ahead.
“As a government we understand that people have concerns and that’s why we’re moving forward both on protecting the environment and building the economy,” Trudeau added.
“We’re moving forward with a national price on carbon pollution, we’re moving forward with getting our resources safely and sustainably to new markets and we’re moving forward on historic oceans protection that will allow the women and men of the coast guard, and all of its partners around the country to do a better job of preventing marine accidents and responding if ever they occur,” said Trudeau.
Torrance Coste, Wilderness Committee’s Vancouver Island Campaigner, talks about opposition to Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion, ahead of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s arrival. #yyj #bcpoli #cdnpoli #kindermorgan #justintrudeau pic.twitter.com/1XXUsVTDJx
— Victoria News (@VictoriaNews) April 5, 2018
First Nations groups, the City of Vancouver, the City of Burnaby, the B.C. Government, environmental organizations, politicians, and citizens have all protested the project, both in court and on the streets.
The decision turned into a battle between provinces on Feb. 6, when Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced her government’s decision to ban imports of B.C. wine after B.C. Premier John Horgan proposed new restrictions on transporting crude oil at the end of January.
A fresh wave of protests began again last month after a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted Trans Mountain an indefinite injunction against protesters, setting a five-metre minimum distance from two work sites.
Elizabeth May, Federal Green Party leader and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, and New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart were arrested while protesting Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project.
Victoria MP Murray Rankin recently condemned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to champion Kinder Morgan’s project as being in the “national interest”. Bill Nye has asked Trudeau what his rationale is for approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
— Victoria News (@VictoriaNews) April 5, 2018
MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, Randall Garrison, supports evidence that a 15 percent spill recovery and a spill response time of six hours is unacceptable.
“Kinder Morgan should never have been approved,” said Garrison at a recent protest against the pipeline project. “The seven-fold increase in tanker traffic through our waters is not something that we can accept. One spill could destroy traditional food and ceremonial fisheries of four First Nations and tens of thousands of jobs in recreational fishing, tourism, and whale watching that depend on the clean environment.”
The pipeline expansion project also has a large contingent of proponents, who are concerned that the opposition to the project is both hurting business and is an affront to the regulatory process.
An open letter to Premier John Horgan distributed by the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association and co-signed by Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the B.C. Business Council, and the BC Chamber of Commerce, criticized Horgan for letting his personal view affect a federally green-lit project.
The letter cites the “four years of consultation and rigorous regulatory review” the pipeline has already undergone, and the 157 federal and 37 provincial conditions the project must already meet.
“Failing to respect the rule of law and the largely federal jurisdiction over this project is not only deeply unfair to the stakeholders who respected the process, but also represents a fundamental departure from what it means for B.C. to be part of Canada,” the letter stated.
According to the Prime Minister’s itinerary, Trudeau will continue on to Vancouver for a clean-technology roundtable at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, followed by a $1,000-a-plate Liberal party fundraiser in the evening. On Friday, Trudeau is set to visit the Alberta oil sands.