BE CAREFUL what you wish for, lest it come true.
That may sum up the quandary that Premier John Horgan and the BC NDP are in. Horgan and his party have consistently stated they wanted more assurance on spill response to Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline and increased oil tanker traffic. Horgan has stated again and again that the risks to the B.C. coast are too high for B.C. to sit idly by.
Up for debate is whether current spill technology can handle the diluted bitumen that would be pumped by Kinder Morgan. Horgan is justified in asking that question. It is the role of government to protect our environment.
The BC NDP is justified in pushing for stricter environmental criteria. And as much as they might not want to, corporations deal with stricter environmental requirements on an ongoing basis. Stricter environmental requirements, tied with enforcement, protects the environment.
Horgan and the BC NDP are doing what governments should do.
But, be careful what you wish for, because now Kinder Morgan has put a halt to all non-essential work. Meanwhile,sh the Province of Alberta and the federal government are rattling their sabres trying to get B.C. to budge on their position.
If it was just B.C., Alberta, Ottawa and Kinder Morgan involved, then everyone involved would eventually come to the negotiating table, or have their day in court. If it was only B.C., Alberta, Ottawa and Kinder Morgan at the table, then a deal could be found.
But, be careful what you wish for, because by justifiably pushing for more regulations, the BC NDP may now no longer wield the balance of power.
Rather than the provinces, federal, government, and corporations brokering a deal, it is First Nations and environmental groups who hold the reins.
Kinder Morgan has worked hard to sign agreements with 41 First Nations in B.C. Locally, Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and Whispering Pines have signed agreements. But others including Coldwater Indian Band near Merritt, Tsleil-Waututh Nation on Burrard Inlet, and Squamish Nation have not signed agreements and are opposed to the pipeline expansion.
At the same time, numerous environmental groups such as Wilderness Committee, The Council of Canadians, and Greenpeace Canada have opposed the expansion of the pipeline for years. In recent weeks, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart have been arrested at Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby site. In all, 170 people have been arrested opposing Kinder Morgan in recent weeks.
Now, Kinder Morgan has halted pipeline expansion.
While the BC NDP government is fighting for improved spill responses, First Nations and environmental groups have run an end game around everyone. The BC NDP’s concerns have been superseded by concerns such as First Nations sovereignty, stopping Oil Sands expansion and climate change.
If the BC NDP wanted to kill Kinder Morgan, then they could have come right out and said it long ago.
But, since they haven’t said that so far, they must want a deal as much as Alberta, Ottawa and Kinder Morgan.
The BC NDP wished for stronger environmental controls. Their wishes helped embolden First Nations and environmental groups.
Now, BC NDP and Premier John Horgan need to start sitting down with all the parties, one-by-one, and hash things out. And, they need to start with the First Nations and the environmental groups.
Nancy Bepple is a former city councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.