Is buying a pipeline good for Canada? Is it good for British Columbia?
“No” and “No” says local MP Richard Cannings.
“They’ve bought a 50-year-old pipeline that leaks,” says the South Okanagan-West Kootenay representative.
“It fails the test of First Nations consultation and it fails the environmental test,” he emphasized.
“Buying this pipeline accomplishes nothing except it puts the taxpayers of Canada at risk.”
The Trail Times called the NDP politician, who is in Ottawa this week, after the federal Liberal government broke the news that it is spending $4.5 billion to buy Trans Mountain and all of Kinder Morgan Canada’s core assets.
Cannings recalls phones lighting up and rooms buzzing in the House of Commons early Tuesday as news reports about the B.C. pipeline flooded in.
“I was in committee all morning,” he explained. “So it was more like a lot of people exclaiming over their phones and pointing at text messages and reports coming out in the background of testimony that was in front of the committee.”
His peers said there was considerable ruckus in the house, where, coincidentally, they were debating an update on the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
“So it’s kind of appropriate that this might come in right now as well as questions about how this is sustainable,” Cannings pointed out.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau presented pipeline options during an early-morning cabinet meeting Tuesday before ministers signed off on the chosen option. The move came just days before Kinder Morgan’s self-imposed May 31 deadline and is still subject to the approval of company shareholders.
Cannings says the fed’s billion-dollar decision was unexpected.
“Of all the options the government was talking about, I thought this was the least likely,” he said. “Because, to me, it makes no sense to put the taxpayers, the citizens of Canada, at a financial risk that no private company wants. Kinder Morgan didn’t want it, and said they are going to sell this stake as soon as they can.”
The purchase will be financed by Export Development Canada. Collectively, it includes the pipeline, pumping stations and rights of way along the route between Edmonton and Vancouver, as well as the marine terminal in Burnaby, where oil is loaded onto tankers for export.
“Kinder Morgan bought the pipeline 10 or-so years ago for one-tenth the price,” Cannings noted. “So it’s just mind boggling how crazy this decision is.”
The pipeline expansion project, which is not included in the $4.5-billion transaction, fails Canadians on two levels, he reiterated.
“First it fails the test of First Nations consultation, rights and title under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the federal government has fully signed on to.”
Secondly, Cannings maintains the proposed expansion does not pass environmental scrutiny.
“You know we have tens of thousands of people who are lining up to fight this through civil disobedience,” he said. “So buying this pipeline accomplishes nothing except it puts taxpayers at risk, and I don’t see where it’s good for anybody.”
What Cannings does predict – is more civil unrest.
“I know there are people in the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding that are mulling over whether they should go down to the coast to fight this. And I think this will motivate them to do that because many are concerned not just about the coastal environment but about Climate Action.”
While he acknowledged that the country will be needing oil for decades to come, he says buying and extending a pipeline flies in the face of what many Canadians are doing every day, which is trying to reduce their carbon footprint.
“So again, it’s not about shutting down the oil industry,” he said. “It’s about what we want to do with it.”
The Liberals campaigned on a promise to eliminate subsidies to the oil industry, Cannings concluded.
“And this is the biggest subsidy there are ever going to get. So they are totally breaking that promise, and it’s just wrong in so many ways.”