An exchange during Question Period on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 between Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond and Environment Minister George Heyman:
S. Bond: We’ve been urging the Premier for weeks to end his reckless handling of the already-approved Trans Mountain expansion, but this Premier’s blunders and incompetence have escalated this issue into a crisis. It is nothing short of an embarrassment.
The Premier finally acknowledged this is a crisis after denying it daily in question period: “I do not believe the crisis that has emerged here should be trivialized.” Will the government finally admit that they are responsible for the embarrassing mess that has been created and tell British Columbians how they intend to fix it?
Hon. G. Heyman: What I wish I could tell all British Columbians is that every member of this Legislature, sent to this place from all over the province, were willing to stand together to defend British Columbians against unlawful and extreme actions from our neighbours to the east and to take the side of British Columbians who are worried about a massive spill of oil — whether it’s from rail or from tanker or from pipeline — and the threats to tens of thousands of jobs in British Columbia and billions of dollars in economic activity.
Sadly, I can’t do that today, because members on the opposite side seem to think it’s more important to lend their voices to the hysteria that’s enveloping a very real issue about provincial rights.
Mr. Speaker: Prince George–Valemount on a supplemental.
S. Bond: I think that British Columbians, thousands of British Columbians, will be very interested in hearing this minister call their legitimate concerns “hysteria.” This minister and the Premier continue, as we’ve just seen, to deny and dismiss the fact that British Columbians will face consequences of their blunders and incompetence.
Day after day, the Premier and this minister are hearing from tens of thousands of B.C. job creators: from 33 B.C. First Nations who support the project — perhaps the minister would like to tell those First Nations that their concerns are simply hysteria — and from residents in communities large and small, across this province, who are concerned about the increase in their gas prices and increased shipments of oil by rail.
British Columbians will be hurt by this government’s deliberate and reckless actions, and yet they continue to ignore the voices of thousands of British Columbians who want them to fix this mess. Will the minister, the Deputy Premier — someone — stand up today and take responsibility for the crisis they have created and end their efforts to stop the Trans Mountain project?
Hon. G. Heyman: Perhaps the members opposite have generated so much unnecessary noise around this topic that the member for Prince George–Valemount didn’t realize that the hysteria I was referring to was that generated by the members opposite.
I would never, ever trivialize the concerns of British Columbians. I would never, ever trivialize the concerns of voices of Indigenous people across this province. But let me be clear. We have been measured. We have said we are going to do everything we can to defend British Columbians’ interests, our economy, tens of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in GDP. That’s important. That’s the future of the British Columbian economy.
We need to defend our environment. We need to defend our coastline. And we need to ensure that we do what we were elected to do — that is, stand up for British Columbia and assert every inch of British Columbia’s jurisdiction under the constitution. That’s exactly what we’re doing. That’s exactly why we’re referring disputes to the courts instead of making threats across borders.
Mr. Speaker: Member for Prince George–Valemount on a second supplemental.
S. Bond: As much as the minister would like to stand in this House and try to pretend that his views represent all British Columbians, that’s simply not true. Hiring more lawyers will not address fuel shortages that will drive up gas prices. Hiring more lawyers will not address the concerns of B.C. First Nations who support the project or deal with the fears of British Columbians who don’t want to see more oil on railcars.
Perhaps the minister needs to be reminded about the comments of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business who represent….
S. Bond: And the minister laughs while he stands in this House and says he’s prepared to listen.
This organization represents 10,000 B.C. businesses. It’s now one of 78 organizations that are demanding that this government fix this mess. In fact, let’s listen to the voices of those British Columbians. Here’s what they said: “This is immature behaviour. It is incredibly destructive” — not my words, but the words of business creators and job creators in British Columbia.
What is this government’s plan to deal with the repercussions of the Premier’s incredibly destructive behaviour? Will the government finally listen to the voices of thousands of British Columbians who are demanding they fix their mess?
Hon. G. Heyman: We’re listening to the voices of thousands of British Columbians. We’re listening to the voices of 133,000 British Columbians who work for 19,000 tourism businesses, whose businesses and jobs are at threat of a catastrophic spill of diluted bitumen should we allow it to happen without taking every step possible to minimize the risk of the occurrence and be in a position to respond if it happens.
We’re speaking for the many thousands of people — 14,000 people employed in our coastal seafood industry that generates $400 million in wages. I take the concerns of all British Columbians seriously, but we are not going to simply stand back — having once said, as the opposition did when they were in government, that they were concerned about the inability to address the consequences of a spill of diluted bitumen and then simply rolled over and now would have us do the bidding of those in a boardroom in Texas. We won’t do that.
We’ll go to the courts to settle differences, and we’ll listen to the words of the Premier of Alberta when she said she’s bringing legislation — she has no intention of enacting it — and when others say very clearly, they have no constitutional authority to limit the flow of energy to this or any other province.
Source: BC Hansard.