British Columbia

NDP MPs renew vow to stop Trans Mountain pipeline at Vancouver townhall

NDP MPs in British Columbia are once again vowing to do everything they can to stop the TransMountain pipeline expansion project as the National Energy Board conducts a new environmental assessment.

UBC professor says new consultations and review could bolster Ottawa's case

Jenny Kwan, NDP MP for Vancouver East, speaks to a few dozen people at a townhall in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 28, to address concerns about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

NDP MPs in British Columbia are once again vowing to do everything they can to stop the TransMountain pipeline expansion project as the National Energy Board conducts a new environmental assessment.

On Sunday, MPs Jenny Kwan, Don Davies and Nathan Cullen held a town hall at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre to discuss the project. A few dozen people attended.  

"How do you do proper consultation when you already have a decision?" said Jenny Kwan, NDP MP for Vancouver East. "It's absolutely a farce." 

Last August, the pipeline project was put on hold when the Federal Court of Appeal called out Ottawa on its duty to consult with Indigenous communities along the route from northern Alberta to Metro Vancouver, among other factors. 

The Trudeau government had recently bought the pipeline for $4.5 billion, and says it intends to pursue it because it's in the national interest to do so. 

Kwan and her colleagues said the project is incompatible with Canada's environmental goals and the country's duties for reconciliation with its Indigenous people. 

"Trudeau cannot honestly believe that he can proceed with this project and at the same time claim that he's a climate leader," Kwan said.

A few dozen people attended the townhall, to express their worries about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

New consultations could benefit Ottawa

But Adam Pankratz, an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business, says it's unlikely the project could be stopped for good. 

"The federal government has made quite clear that this project in their view is in the national interest and have repeated that this pipeline will get built," Pankratz said. 

The business professor says the government's renewed consultations with First Nations, and its re-examination of the risks of increased oil tanker traffic on the West Coast, could work in Ottawa's favour. 

"Though it may be a short-term frustration — for investors, for the pipeline company obviously as well, and for the federal government — longterm, this may actually be a good thing," he said. 

'We're not stopping'

Meanwhile in Alberta, Premier Rachel Notley delivered a fiery speech at the Alberta NDP convention, where she mentioned she would continue fighting for the pipeline project to go forward. 

"We're not stopping. I have been from one end of this country to the other pressing the case for pipeline access," Notley said. 

"We have come a long long way since the depths of the worst recession in a generation. That's one of the key reasons that we are fighting to build a new pipeline."

The NEB has until Feb. 22 to finish its new review. 

With files from Joel Ballard


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