Debate in the B.C . Legislature on Wednesday, April 11 on the Trans Mountain pipeline, between Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone and Premier John Horgan.
T. Stone: Well, let’s try this one more time with the Premier again. This is a specific quote from his Minister of Environment in the Environment estimates on Monday of this week. The legal advice was that “stopping the project was beyond the jurisdiction of British Columbia, and to talk about it or frame our actions around doing that…would be inappropriate and unlawful.” But this is what the Premier has said: “We’re still committed to doing everything we can to stop the project.”
Can the Premier explain why he continues to talk about stopping this project when he has received explicit legal advice that it would be inappropriate and unlawful to do so?
Hon. J. Horgan: I will just refer the members on that side of the House to our interventions in the Federal Court, led by Chief Justice Berger — I think someone who has the highest degree of respect right across the country. He is taking our case to the court to determine whether it is inappropriate that British Columbians absorb the risk of this project. That’s what we’re in court defending — the rights of British Columbians, the rights to make sure that the government of B.C. can stand up for the people of this province. I don’t understand why the people on that side of the House don’t get it.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Kamloops–South Thompson on a supplemental.
T. Stone: Well, that wasn’t the question at all. The Premier did not listen to legal advice that he was provided. This wasn’t political advice. This wasn’t advice from caucus colleagues. This wasn’t advice from environmental activists. This was legal advice that was provided to him by the professional civil service. The advice was to no longer talk about stopping this project.
He didn’t even listen to his own Environment Minister, who said earlier this week: “When receiving legal advice about what we can do and what we can’t do, to act on things in any other manner…would be a demonstration of bias.” The Premier’s rash actions have landed his government and British Columbians into a big mess.
Will he admit his mistake and fix it?
Hon. J. Horgan: Well, the legal advice pertained to the issuance of permits. I’ll remind members, if they don’t recall, when the member from Langley was the Minister of Environment, she said she had the obligation and responsibility to withhold permits if she, as a statutory officer, felt that there was some inappropriate behaviour behind those permits. That was the advice we got. And if you talk to anyone from Kinder Morgan they will tell you that we have been diligently issuing permits as they’ve been requested.
But the principle about protecting and defending our coast is in court right now. I invite members to go and read the transcripts. Read the presentation by Justice Berger, a prominent jurist, not giving political advice — in fact, standing up for British Columbians and taking our case to the federal court to defend our coast. That’s what he’s doing. That’s what we asked him to do. We’re issuing permits. We’re not harassing the company. We are demonstrating no bias when it comes to activities with the company. And we’re in court to try and stop it. What’s the problem with that? What don’t you get about that?
Source: BC Hansard.