Debate in the Legislature during Question Period, Thursday, April 12, 2018, between Environment Minister George Heyman and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar.
P. Milobar: According to this government’s own Environment Minister, the Premier has known for eight months that he doesn’t have the authority to stop the Trans Mountain project.
Today we’ve learned that since at least January 8, the Premier has known and acknowledged that there is nothing he can do to limit oil by rail through British Columbia on federally regulated rail lines.
How long is the Premier going to persist in his charade of sham consultations? Will the Deputy Premier confirm that the Premier knows he can’t legally stop the pipeline or the transportation of oil by rail?
Hon. G. Heyman: Apparently, after several days of estimates, the member for Kamloops–North Thompson still doesn’t understand exactly what we’re proposing to do. So let me perhaps help the member understand what British Columbians expect us to do.
British Columbians expect us to regulate to protect our environment from harm. And when we protect our environment from harm, we protect tens of thousands of jobs that are at risk from a spill. Whether it’s by rail, whether it’s by tanker, whether it’s through a pipeline, tens of thousands of British Columbians who have jobs today, good jobs today, see their jobs at risk.
We are asserting our jurisdiction where that has been contested by Alberta and the federal government. We’re doing exactly what responsible people should do. We have referred it to the courts.
A month ago the Premier of Alberta said that was a good thing, that the courts were the place to settle the dispute. The only thing that’s changed is a decision by a company based in Texas to question whether they’ll proceed with a project.
We will continue to assert our jurisdiction, and we’ll let the courts define the limits of that when it’s contested. What we won’t do is threaten, coerce or attempt to intimidate any government or any individual into doing anything other than asserting their rights in the courts.
Mr. Speaker: Kamloops–North Thompson on a supplemental.
P. Milobar: I’m starting to think this time in the day should be renamed to “deflection period.” The government needs to acknowledge some facts here.
Mr. Speaker: Members, we shall hear the question.
P. Milobar: Energy production in Alberta is going up, and oil shipments are increasing. The increase is coming by rail or it’s coming by pipeline, both of which are exclusively federally regulated activities. When will the minister just admit there isn’t a thing he can do to limit the volume of oil travelling on federally regulated lines?
Hon. G. Heyman: Once again, we believe that there is much that we can do to protect B.C.’s environment and our economy, and we are testing anything that’s contested in the courts, which is the reasonable and responsible thing to do. But we also are concerned about jobs in British Columbia, so let’s talk for a minute about some of those jobs.
So 19,000 tourism businesses in British Columbia employing 133,000 people here in B.C. and generating $17 billion each year — $17 billion. And 895,000 people are expected to pass through Vancouver on cruise ships. Vancouver is the portal for tourism businesses in the rest of the province.
When the President of the United States entertained and announced discriminatory, punitive, unlawful sanctions against B.C.’s lumber industry, the Leader of the Official Opposition stood up, as did his entire caucus, to urge us to stand with British Columbians.
Today I urge the opposition to stand with British Columbians, stand with us to defend the jobs of working people in British Columbia that would be destroyed by a spill and help us protect against that eventuality.
Source: BC Hansard.