B.C. premier in conflict of interest: groups

The British Columbia Supreme Court is being asked to reverse the provincial government’s decision

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia Supreme Court is being asked to reverse the provincial government’s decision to approve a pipeline proposal over an alleged conflict of interest between the premier and the project’s proponents.

Democracy Watch and PIPE UP Network have applied for a judicial review of the environmental assessment certificate granted earlier this year by the province for Kinder Morgan Canada’s $6.8-billion project.

Documents filed Tuesday in court say the approval process is tainted by $560,000 in political donations made over six years to B.C.’s Liberal party by Kinder Morgan and various oil shippers interested in using the pipeline.

The application also points to $300,000 that Premier Christy Clark received while leader of the B.C. Liberals, although the premier announced recently she would no longer take the party’s $50,000 a year stipend.

The advocacy groups say in their petition that any reasonable, informed and thoughtful person could not help but conclude that the government would have at least been subconsciously affected by the financial contributions.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and neither Clark, nor her ministers of environment and natural gas who were named in the lawsuit were immediately available to comment.

The Trans Mountain project would build a second pipeline that runs from near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., and would nearly triple the carrying capacity and increase tanker traffic sevenfold.

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