BURNABY, B.C. — British Columbia’s Liberal leader says she would take steps to ban thermal coal shipments through the province if the federal government doesn’t act during a fight over softwood lumber tariffs imposed by the United States.
Christy Clark said Friday that Ottawa has not yet responded to a letter she sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week asking for a stop to American thermal coal passing through B.C. ports, which are under federal jurisdiction.
“If it had been within our jurisdiction we would have just done it by now,” Clark said on the election trail ahead of the provincial election on May 9.
Clark said she expects Ottawa will act to keep U.S. coal from reaching China in accordance with its climate-change agenda.
“Sending filthy American coal to China doesn’t help advance that one bit.”
She said the province would go it alone if Ottawa doesn’t act by taking measures such as imposing a heavy tax on coal shipments in an effort to stop them.
“It’s not my preferred way of doing it but we’ve been thinking hard about this for the last few months. That’s the difference between a reckless, temperamental approach to these things and a leader that’s going to plan and fight hard but fight smart when it comes to protecting B.C. jobs.”
Clark has accused her main rival, NDP Leader John Horgan, of staying mostly silent on the contentious softwood lumber issue until this week when the United States imposed an average tariff of 20 per cent on Canadian softwood lumber, impacting forestry-dependent B.C.
Horgan has said that as premier, Clark should have gone to Washington to address the softwood lumber dispute after President Donald Trump took office, as did the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan on their various trade matters.