Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to bridge the divide between Alberta and British Columbia on Friday with a vow that climate change and spill protection programs won't go ahead unless the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion is built.
Trudeau, speaking with On the Island host Gregor Craigie ahead of the last stop on his cross-country town hall tour in Nanaimo, reiterated the assurance he made on his stop the day before in Edmonton that the Trans Mountain project will go ahead.
But he added that the pipeline expansion and the two key environmental programs sought by B.C. are a package deal.
"The only way we can get any of those things is if we do all three of those things together," Trudeau said.
"As I've said for a long time, we need to make sure we're both protecting the environment and growing the economy at the same time."
Alberta's NDP Premier Rachel Notley has threatened a constitutional battle and suspension of negotiations with B.C. over electricity sales in retaliation for the B.C. government's plans to temporarily restrict the shipment of diluted bitumen.
B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman announced the proposed ban on increased bitumin shipments Tuesday.
He said the purpose was to allow wide consultation on environmental risks and response in the event of a large spill of diluted bitumen from the impending twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C., and the expected increase in tanker traffic that would follow.
"The issue we have is, if we don't move forward in getting our resources over to markets overseas in safe and secure ways, the rest of the plan no longer holds," Trudeau said.
"We won't get the Oceans Protection Plan investments. We won't get a national price on carbon and we would never meet our Paris targets [on reducing carbon emissions]."
Defends NEB review process
Amid reports that the prime minister in the coming days is set to announce changes to how energy projects are approved through the National Energy Board, Trudeau insisted the NEB review for the Trans Mountain pipeline twinning was thorough.
"The decision we took was based on science and evidence on extensive consultation with communities," he said, adding that dozens of First Nations have given support to the project, though others have not.
"As I've said many times: communities grant permission, it's not just governments that grant permits."
On the Island political panellist Martyn Brown, who was chief of staff to former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, called the prime minister's handling of the B.C. pipeline decision "duplicitous and disingenuous from the outset."
"The prime minister ran on the promise that the Kinder Morgan project was subject to a National Energy Board process that was faulty and flawed," Brown said. "He never acted to correct that fundamentally."
He said is it outrageous that Trudeau insists the pipeline project will go ahead despite the pending court challenge by B.C. First Nations and others.
With files from CBC Radio On the Island