John HorganBy John Horgan, Leader, B.C. New Democrats

Last week, the federal government ignored the wishes of British Columbians and approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline – a project that will put B.C. jobs and the province’s natural beauty at risk for little benefit.

New Democrats have consistently opposed this plan to ship Alberta bitumen to supertankers on B.C.’s North Coast.

We know that B.C. needs to create more jobs through resource development that benefits our communities and protects our land, air and water. But this high-risk project threatens the jobs we already have and the environment that we depend on, and offers little in return: almost no permanent jobs, and the risk of a spill that could devastate our environment and our economy.

But rather than standing up for our coast, our communities and our jobs, Premier Christy Clark is concealing her government’s support for the project.

On Monday, Clark said the project has not yet met her government’s conditions. But last week her finance minister was telling reporters that Enbridge faces “some hurdles… but I think they can be overcome.” Key Clark advisor Stockwell Day also signed an open letter calling for approval.

The B.C. Liberals effectively gave this project the go-ahead when they gave away project approval to the federal government and failed to insist on shared control of the environmental review.

That failure to take back control has meant that British Columbians were robbed of the chance to have a real say in the process.

And what British Columbians have said, loud and clear, is that this pipeline presents an unacceptable risk. First Nations in B.C. have responded to the proposal with an overwhelming “no,” and people living in communities along the Northern Gateway route, as well as the Union of B.C. Municipalities, have publically rejected it.

A major spill would not only destroy ecosystems on the North Coast, it would also devastate local economies, destroy jobs, and strike a blow to B.C.’s economy.

Putting all of this at risk for the sake of almost no permanent jobs just doesn’t make sense.

What does make sense is developing B.C.’s own, cleaner energy sources for Asian markets.

If managed properly, with protection of our land, air and water, LNG exports will create good new jobs in B.C., respect and include First Nations and benefit B.C. communities.

Unfortunately, what we have seen to date is more mismanagement from the B.C. Liberals.

Although they have been blinkered in their focus on LNG to the detriment of every other sector of the economy, their delays and failures are putting this opportunity at risk. They have jeopardized key partnerships with First Nations and delayed putting a tax framework in place by a year while they negotiate behind the scenes with energy companies.

And they are not working effectively to gain social license for LNG exports, having refused to conduct a scientific review of fracking, lead an honest public discussion about greenhouse gas targets, or take action to mitigate risks to our land, air and water.

Moreover, their failure to stop Enbridge despite overwhelming First Nations and community opposition is causing social unrest that threatens other investment opportunities.

I believe we need to take advantage of opportunities that are right for British Columbia, not chase projects with high risks and low rewards. That means balanced resource development that creates good new B.C. jobs and benefits to B.C. communities, respects and includes First Nations and protects our environment.

The B.C. Liberals failed to act on behalf of British Columbians to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline, and now their failures are putting the LNG opportunity in jeopardy.

These failures are hurting investor, First Nations and public confidence in the economy and harming B.C.’s ability to create more jobs through resource development.


(Note: The Op-ed was provided on June 20)