VICTORIA, B.C. — A defiant British Columbia Premier John Horgan said he won’t back down from his government’s opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline project when he meets Sunday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.
Horgan said Thursday he will go to Ottawa to hear what the prime minister and Alberta premier have to say, but if they expect him to drop B.C.’s court actions or its advocacy for protection from oil spills, they are mistaken.
“I will defend to the end the rights of B.C. to stand up and defend our coast,” Horgan said during an outdoor news conference near a legislature flower garden. “This is a serious issue for British Columbians and I’ll do my level best to make sure the premier of Alberta and the prime minister understand that.”
Trudeau summoned Horgan and Notley for the meeting over the escalating dispute. The prime minister is attending the Summit of the Americas in Peru, but will return to Canada for the meeting before heading to Europe on a trade mission.
Kinder Morgan, the pipeline’s operator, turned up the heat last week announcing it is stopping essential spending on the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain expansion because of opposition and delays in B.C. The company established a May 31 deadline for action.
“I’m happy to hear what the prime minister and perhaps Rachel Notley has to say,” Horgan said. “I don’t feel there’s any need for sabre-rattling or provocation, nor for threats.”
Notley said her New Democrat government is preparing to introduce legislation that could reduce the flow of oil to B.C., which is likely to cause gas prices to spike in the Vancouver area, where motorists are already paying more than $1.50 per litre.
On Thursday in Edmonton, Notley didn’t appear to soften her stand ahead of the meeting.
“There is one and only one solution, and that solution is that the pipeline gets built without delay.”
Trudeau was in Vancouver and Victoria last week where he was met by protests, but reiterated the federal government approved the pipeline project in November 2016 and will ensure it is built. The federal cabinet held an emergency meeting this week and has since voiced its support for the project.
Horgan said B.C. intends to pursue court action that involves seeking a constitutional reference case to determine who has the jurisdiction to permit the pipeline to cross B.C.
“We are in court following the rule of law. We’re developing a question with respect to jurisdiction that will be referred to a court in short order and as far as I’m concerned we are issuing (project) permits as requested by the proponent.”
Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said the federal and Alberta governments are missing an opportunity to bring Canada’s economy into the 21st century by supporting the expansion project.
He said Notley and the prime minister should at least consider building more oil refineries in Canada.
Horgan, who has often suggested building more refineries, said he will raise the issue in Sunday’s meeting.
“If they have disposable billions, I would suggest a better course of action would be investing in refining capacity so that we Canadians can benefit from the jobs and we Canadians can benefit from this natural resource rather than sending it in raw form to another jurisdiction,” he said.
By Dirk Meissner
THE CANADIAN PRESS