British Columbia

B.C. stakeholders, experts respond to Kinder Morgan's deadline ultimatum for Trans Mountain pipeline

Kinder Morgan announced Sunday that it is suspending "non-essential activities" and related spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project, citing ongoing opposition from the B.C. government.

Company has given government until May 31 to come up with a clear plan

Kinder Morgan's confidence in the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline project is uncertain, and the company has given the Canadian government until May 31 to provide a clear path forward. (Trans Mountain)

Kinder Morgan announced Sunday that it is suspending "non-essential activities" and related spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project, citing ongoing opposition from the B.C. government.

The decision was largely based on the B.C. government's legal challenges to the pipeline and the need to protect its shareholders, Kinder Morgan's representatives said.

B.C. Premier John Horgan is pursuing a reference case in the courts to determine if his government can control the shipment of oil through the province on environmental grounds, which is now preventing the project from moving forward.

The company said it will consult with stakeholders in an effort to reach agreements before their deadline of May 31 to allow the project to proceed.

Since the announcement, stakeholders in B.C. have come forward with their opinions on the cross-government battle that is shaking investor confidence.

Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Liberal leader:

Andrew Wilkinson thinks the B.C. NDP leadership is buying time and calls Premier John Horgan's latest move to further examine the province's right to control the shipment of oil through its ports a "stalling tactic." (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

"It's clear that Kinder Morgan has come to the conclusion that B.C. is not a place where they can predictably do business."

He said he views the NDP's resistance to the project as a "stalling tactic" and said the provincial leadership is "sending the message to investors that B.C. is an erratic and unpredictable place to do business, whether you're from B.C. or from elsewhere."

B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman 

George Heyman says the project needs to have more concrete solutions for spill response in place before decisions on the pipeline move forward. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

Heyman said that he wants more concrete solutions in response to the potential environmental impacts that this project would pose and pointed to a national report which exposed large gaps in knowledge about how diluted bitumen behaves in water.

"We think those are the kinds of questions that should be answered, so that measures can be taken to protect the environment and the economy before the oil is transported," he said.

"We're going to take measures within our jurisdiction through regulation to protect our environment and economy."

Jocelyn Stacey, assistant professor, UBC Allard School of Law

Jocelyn Stacey is an assistant professor at the UBC Allard School of Law teaching environmental law. (Jocelyn Stacey/Facebook)

Stacey, who specializes in environmental law, said she fails to see how a deadline will affect the court's timeline to make a decision.

"There are so many different issues on the table at this point that the idea that somehow we're going to have those all figured out by May 31 is really unlikely."

She disagrees with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley's statement calling this situation a "constitutional crisis" and said that "the constitutional law that's underpinning the pipeline is ...  well established and longstanding."

"If there's a conflict between federal law and provincial ... law, federal law prevails. This is actually constitutional law operating the way it ought to when we're dealing with issues that engage multiple levels of government," she said.

Stewart Muir executive director Resource Works Society

Stewart Muir works for the non-profit Resource Works Society and sees Canada's reputation with international investors being affected by the delays in the Trans Mountain pipeline project. (Stewart Muir/Facebook)

Muir's company is a non-profit organization focused on the value of responsible resource development in the province and said the delays in this project are casting an unfavourable light on Canada as a trade partner.

"The reputation of Canada is not doing well, and I think this is another strike against our reputation as a country that is serious about the kind of investments that build prosperity, that can be done right and protect the environment at the same time."

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal MP North Vancouver

Jonathan Wilkinson says the way Premier Horgan is confronting the issue of the Trans Mountain pipeline is irresponsible and is eroding investor confidence. (Jonathan Wilkinson)

Wilkinson's riding is one of the closest constituencies to where the pipeline ends and tanker traffic begins. He's disappointed with how the provincial NDP leadership has confronted the issue of the pipeline saying it has badly shaken investor confidence.

"The provincial government of B.C. is essentially overturning decisions that were already taken."

"At the end of the day, the provincial government is playing a game of time. Everybody recognizes that this falls within federal jurisdiction, and so the province is simply trying to create sufficient uncertainty to cause the proponent problems before you get to a court decision." 

With files from On The Coast, The Early Edition