British Columbia is just defending its interests on pipeline: B.C. premier

CHILLIWACK, B.C. — B.C. Premier John Horgan accused the federal government of unnecessarily putting taxpayers money at risk on Wednesday by offering financial protection for Kinder Morgan’s investors in the Trans Mountain pipeline dispute.

Horgan said he is trying to protect the province’s interests by joining two legal cases over the project and asking the B.C. Court of Appeal whether the province has the right to preserve its environment through a permitting system for hazardous substances that are transported inside its borders.

“The federal government today is announcing it will spend public dollars to shore up a private company that knew the risks of proceeding with their project when they signed on,” Horgan told a news conference in Chilliwack, B.C., where he was visiting areas affected by flooding.

“I made it abundantly clear that I believe it’s not in our best interest to put at risk our marine economy and marine environment.”

Earlier Wednesday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the federal government is willing to offer an “indemnity” to help ease the political risks for any investors to ensure the pipeline expansion can proceed.

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the $7.4-billion pipeline project that would twin the existing pipeline between Burnaby, B.C., and Edmonton. The company wants assurances it can proceed without delays by May 31.

Horgan said blaming B.C. for the pipeline impasse is focusing on the wrong target.

“The prime minister called me back to Ottawa (last month) and said we were going to do something, and I said, ‘Fair enough, do what you like,’ and today I guess we’re getting the first step of that,” said Horgan. “It seems to me it’s mostly rhetoric and hyperbole instead of substance British Columbians and Canadians can grab on to.”

He challenged Ottawa to act on the pipeline.

“Either you are going to do something federal government or you’re not,” said Horgan. “Wanting to demonize me, that’s fine, that’s politics.”

Earlier in Vancouver, Horgan said his approach on the pipeline reflects what he said he would do during last year’s provincial election campaign.

“I’m defending the interests of British Columbia,” he said. “I’m not causing any risks.”

Horgan said the province asked the federal government to take part in a reference case to Supreme Court of Canada, but it declined so his government went ahead on its own reference case at the B.C. Court of Appeal to determine its jurisdiction.

Asked how Morneau’s statement might impact the future of the pipeline, Horgan replied: “I’m not a seer. I don’t know what the future holds. Mr. Morneau will do what he wants to do.”

B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman said Morneau’s willingness to back the pipeline project was inappropriate and will likely provoke concerns about using tax dollars to support private ventures.

“Mr. Morneau appears more concerned in indemnifying a foreign corporation against risk to its investors than indemnifying British Columbia against the risk to our coast, to our environment, to tens of thousands of jobs,” he said.

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said Horgan’s position on the pipeline is now placing taxpayers’ money at risk through the federal commitment.

“Instead of the private sector paying to build this pipeline, taxpayers will now be responsible for cleaning up Horgan’s mess,” he said in a news release.

— By Dirk Meissner in Victoria and Spencer Harwood in Vancouver

(Companies in this story: TSX:KML)

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Shipping oil by rail questioned

Red Deer-area mayors respond

Country star Gord Bamford and The Reclaws perform free Games concert Friday

Show starts at 6:30 p.m. in heated dome off Celebration Plaza in downtown Red Deer

Survey looks at social isolation among older men

Partnership between Red Deer College and Golden Circle Resource Centre

Peruvian brothers travel nearly 8,000 km to volunteer at Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Italo and Mirko Del Castillo say Canadian warmth contrasts with twinter cold

Pride Days celebrated for first time at Canada Winter Games on Feb. 21 and 28

Pride Days are another first for Red Deer’s 2019 Canada Winter Games.… Continue reading

Gardening: What are you planting in 2019?

What’s new in plants for 2019? Checking catalogues, greenhouses and stores will… Continue reading

Opinion: I spy another energy hypocrite

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. The mittens provided to… Continue reading

Canada’s bobsleigh team races World Cup on Calgary home track facing closure

CALGARY — Canada’s skeleton and bobsled teams will race a World Cup… Continue reading

Italy becomes ninth international football league to join forces with CFL

TORONTO — Add Italy to the growing list of international football federations… Continue reading

Toronto Defiant Overwatch academy team to be known as the Montreal Rebellion

MONTREAL — The Toronto Defiant’s Overwatch academy team will be known as… Continue reading

Canadian fashion and design insiders recall Karl Lagerfeld’s charm, ingenuity

TORONTO — Several Canadian fashion and design experts who knew couture icon… Continue reading

Millennial Money: Make your funds move at the speed of life

Change is constant — especially when you’re young. Chances are you’ll cycle… Continue reading

TSB says improved tankers involved in Manitoba derailment that spilled crude

ST. LAZARE, Man. — Federal investigators say CN rail cars that spilled… Continue reading

Most Read