The provincial government is confusing activism with governing in its opposition to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project, says Skeena BC Liberal MLA Ellis Ross.
With the NDP continuing its pursuit in federal court of a ruling backing its position that it can control the amount of oil that can be transported through a pipeline, it’s taking on a specific political agenda, he said.
“That kind of activism has always been there — coming out against Kinder Morgan, LNG, fish farms. What it should be doing is governing,” Ross said of the New Democrats’ philosophy.
“You’ll remember they said they would use every tool in their toolbox to stop Kinder Morgan but now the truth is in the facts. Even their own environment minister said in the legislature [last week] they had a legal opinion that they couldn’t stop the project. They got that [opinion] right when they became government.”
“They knew that eight months ago they didn’t have jurisdiction and they just ignored it,” continued Ross, who is the BC Liberal critic for petroleum and natural gas.
He also called the NDP opposition to Trans Mountain hypocritical when “tankers of American oil ply the waters off of B.C.’s coast.”
“Those tankers of Alaskan oil come right down the coast, past Stewart, Hartley Bay, Haida Gwaii. If there was so much concern about a spill, what about that? To say nothing about that is hypocrisy,” he said.
Just as damning and hypocritical is Washington governor Jay Inslee’s opposition to Kinder Morgan given the number of pipelines and refineries in that state, Ross continued.
Ross also pointed to situations within First Nations, saying tactics by those opposed to Trans Mountain prevent other aboriginal people from speaking out in favour.
“There are First Nations who are in support, but they fear the backlash, even within their own community and their own people. The first thing is they’d be called is an apple. And you know what that is — red on the outside and white on the inside,” said Ross.
“These leaders just won’t come out in public. It’s a very sad situation,” he added.
While opposition to Kinder Morgan is centred geographically on the coast where the Trans Mountain pipeline would end at a shipping terminal, the company says 41 B.C. First Nations are among 51 who have signed benefit agreements.
Ross himself when chief councilor of the Haisla Nation opposed another oil pipeline, the Northern Gateway project headed by Enbridge, saying at the time the company had failed in its due diligence toward consultation with aboriginal people. A Federal Court of Appeal decision subsequently determined the federal government had also failed in its own requirement to properly address aboriginal issues and concerns.
But even though opposed and with a potential flashpoint because the Northern Gateway hearings opened in Kitamaat Village, Ross said he made public statements and went door-to-door in the community, counselling against breaking the law.
“This was not an issue to break the law about. I had to talk people out of what would have been terrorism. I said ‘let the process play out,’” said Ross. To the Haislas’ credit, while there were protests outside the hearing venue, there were none inside, he said.