The180·THE 180

Asking pipeline companies for money to gain approval amounts to extortion

Kinder Morgan has agreed to pay the province of B.C. up to one billion dollars over 20 years, for the right to expand its Trans Mountain Pipeline. British Columbian Gordon Gibson is pro-pipeline, but he says the deal violates the spirit of the Constitution, and makes him ashamed of his province.
A sign warning of the subterranean presence of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline outside Kamloops, B C. The company has agreed to pay the province up to one billion dollars over the next 20 years for the right to expand the pipeline. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

If a government demands payment to approve an infrastructure project it has no power to reject, is that extortion? 

Gordon Gibson thinks so, and he says it happened this month in British Columbia. 

Kinder Morgan has agreed to pay the province up to one billion dollars over 20 years, for the right to expand its Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Extortion is never a nice thing to watch, even when it is hypocritically alleged to be for the greater good. And especially when the perpetrator is a provincial premier.- Gordon Gibson

"A fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project" is one of Premier Christy Clark's five conditions for pipeline approval, conditions she says were satisfied once the Kinder Morgan deal was struck

B.C. Premier Christy Clark responds to the federal Trans Mountain approval in November, 2016. She gave her government's nod in January, 2017. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

But Gibson, a former B.C. MLA and freelance columnist, says the deal violates the spirit of the Constitution, and amounts to extortion. A province has no right, he argues, to prevent another province's goods from getting to market.

And he says the "fair share" deal the premier struck makes him ashamed of his province's government. 

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