VANCOUVER, B.C. – British Columbia’s premier says his government is trying to protect the province, not be provocative, over a proposed ban on an increase of diluted bitumen shipped from the west coast.
John Horgan said Friday that his government’s announcement earlier this week is cautionary and designed to make sure B.C. doesn’t suffer in the event of a catastrophic spill.
“I did not set out to be provocative,” he said at a news conference. “In fact, I would suggest that a press release saying we’re going to have a consultation should not be the foundation of a trade war between good friends.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley suspended talks Thursday on buying B.C. electricity and has described the proposal as an unconstitutional attempt to stop Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.
The expansion project would triple capacity along the pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C., and increase tanker traffic off the coast sevenfold.
Ottawa has already approved the expansion and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised again on Friday that Trans Mountain will go ahead, saying it’s an important part of Canada’s energy plans.
Horgan said he’s spoken with both Trudeau and Notley in recent days to reiterate his government’s position that expanding the pipeline would pose a significant threat to B.C.’s economy and environment.
The province is already challenging the project in Federal Court, arguing that B.C. was not adequately consulted.
The government has sought legal advice on the new proposed regulations, but that advice is confidential, Horgan said.
Talking to residents is well within the province’s rights, he added.
“We are not putting in place regulations today, we are not putting in regulations at the end of the month. We are putting in place a consultation and an intentions paper so that the public has an understanding of the potential impact of a catastrophic spill within British Columbia.”
B.C. is not trying to take on the rest of the country with the proposed rules, Horgan said but does want to be an equal partner in the federation.
He noted that there are many other issues where he agrees with Notley and Trudeau and hopes they can move forward on those.
“I think there’s great potential for positive working relationships on a number of fronts and I prefer to focus on those,” he said.
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