British Columbia

'Consistent'? Or a 'sham' that 'betrayed British Columbians'? MPs weigh in on Trans Mountain

The NDP's Kennedy Stewart, a long-time opponent of Trans Mountain, says British Columbians have seen "the true face" of Justin Trudeau, but Liberal MP Jonathan Wilkinson says the approval still allows Canada to meet its climate change targets.

NDP, Liberal and Green MPs weigh in on approval of Trans Mountain expansion

Police patrol as a Kinder Morgan employee drills on Burnaby Mountain behind a sign placed by an anti-pipeline protester. In 2014, a long-running protest camp existed on Burnaby Mountain as Kinder Morgan worked at one location where the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline will run. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Burnaby South NDP MP Kennedy Stewart has spent years opposing the Trans Mountain expansion project in his city and says Tuesday's federal approval of it "betrayed British Columbians."

"He doesn't have consent from First Nations, he doesn't have consent from local communities, and now he's going to try and ram this pipeline through our province and put our coast in peril," Stewart said.

"That's not what he said he'd do during the election and I think British Columbians have really seen the face of Mr. Trudeau today. The true face."

Trudeau said during the last federal election the public had lost faith in the National Energy Board and promised a restructuring of the pipeline regulator to "restore a level of independence and intellectual rigor."

But Trans Mountain was allowed to proceed under the old rules with extra scrutiny from an ad hoc three-member panel.

"He used Stephen Harper's non-scientific approach with Stephen Harper's appointees," he said. "Despite his MPs and candidates saying all through the election that they either opposed this pipeline or it would be submitted to a new review ... he sided with Kinder Morgan."

Liberal MP: 'Not going to shut oil and gas and coal overnight'

But Jonathan Wilkinson, Liberal MP from North Vancouver, said the project was subject to a "very rigorous process" that answered all the federal government's concerns.

"In the case of Trans Mountain pipeline, those [issues] related to traffic management in the inlet, how would you handle a spill if in fact one took place, some of the ecosystem issues around killer whales, and of course, how does this fit in the context of climate change ... it actually had answers to all of those questions," he said.

Wilkinson used the word "consistent" to characterize the approval, saying there were both environmental safeguards and the chance at a major boost to the Canadian economy.

Kinder Morgan's $6.8-billion, 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline will move a mix of oil products from Edmonton to a terminal in Burnaby, B.C. near Vancouver, where it will be exported to markets in Asia. (CBC)

He also says the approval fits into Canada's Paris Agreement targets to limit climate change to a rise of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"There will be incremental demand for oil from the developing world and Canada can either participate or simply choose not to and allow Saudi Arabia and Venezuela and Iran and others to do that," he said.

"You're not going to shut oil and gas and coal overnight. There will be a decades-long transition and it will fit in the context of the overall commitments on the part of 195 parties to the Paris Agreement."

May: 'I'm afraid I really believed Justin Trudeau'

Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, dismissed both the economic and environmental cases for Trans Mountain.

"I think it's irresponsible … we are way behind other countries when it comes to cutting greenhouse gases," she said. "Even the Harper target is going to be beyond his reach with approving fossil-fuel, greenhouse gas-producing projects like Petronas, Woodfibre and now Kinder Morgan."

She says exporting diluted bitumen without refining in Canada is costing the country jobs, and the threat of a spill along the B.C. coast imperils jobs in tourism and fishing.

"This process was a fraud, a sham," she said. "I'm afraid I really believed Justin Trudeau when he said there is not any way that the broken process can lead to an approval. And that's where we are: the process wasn't fixed and there's no new magical evidence before us."

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

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