The Current

LNG decision broke Canada's promise to be climate change world leader, says environmentalist

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau argues his government is striking the right balance between growing economy and protecting the environment with the conditional approval of the LNG pipeline. But some say it's a startling reversal of campaign promises.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna speaks to reporters after the federal government approved the Pacific NorthWest LNG project in B.C. with 190 legally binding conditions, as Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr looks on. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

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On Sept. 27, Canada's Environment Minister Catherine McKenna gave the green light to a controversial liquefied natural gas project in B.C — a move that is being touted as Canada's largest-ever private-sector development.

McKenna says "the environment and the economy must go hand in hand" and believes the government delivered on this promise. The project includes 190 restrictions. 

McKenna on provincial carbon pricing

6 years ago
Duration 0:57
McKenna on provincial carbon pricing

Environmentalist Karen Mahon tells The Current's Friday host Laura Lynch she's disappointed in the Liberals' LNG decision because this sends the wrong message to the rest of the world.

"We have alternatives here in Canada. We are not in desperate economic straights compared to other countries in the world that have to make those same decisions — and they're watching us."

Mahon is the executive director of Stand  — an environmental advocacy group and was at the 2015 Paris conference. She tells Lynch she believed the party was serious about being world leaders on climate change after a treaty was agreed on.

But she says now the LNG decision tells the world that "we are going to call ourselves a climate leader, we are going to say we support this treaty but at home it's business as usual."

Of course, the Trudeau government's decision on Pacific NorthWest LNG was a hotly anticipated one — not only for environmental groups but for the opposition parties in Ottawa as well.   

NDP leader Tom Mulcair called the LNG decision "galling" and "incomprehensible" and Ottawa bureau chief for Postmedia, John Ivison says this approved project gives the NDP a reason for being.

"Their supporters have been drifting towards the Liberals — one in five support the Liberals since the last election. Opinion poll shows that this actually gives us something to look forward to."

Ivison thinks the LNG decision will become symbolic in the way the Keystone Pipeline did and says the NDP stands to benefit politically.

"I think both the Democrats and the Greens are going to look at this... as a flashpoint for people who are concerned about Aboriginal rights or about the future of the planet."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath, John Chipman and Vancouver network producer Anne Penman.