Today in the legislature I rose during question period to ask the Premier about his recent meeting in Ottawa with Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta and Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister. I rose third in Question Period between internally inconsistent questions that the BC Liberals also posed to the Premier. It seemed to me that the BC Liberals were more concerned about the interests of Albertans than they were about the protection of the BC economy and environment.
Below I reproduce the video and text of my exchange with the Premier. I was very pleased with his clear responses to my two questions.
A. Weaver: I must admit, it’s galling for me to hear members of the Liberal Party of Alberta opposite wax eloquently about ocean protection — an area that I actually served as an intervenor on. I can assure you that when there’s an ocean protection plan that’s predicated on the existence of 20 hours of sunlight, nobody’s safety is being protected here in the province of British Columbia.
Yesterday the Premier met with the Prime Minister and the Alberta Premier to discuss the manufactured conflict over the Trans Mountain expansion that has the side opposite, the Liberal members from Alberta, all in a tizzy these days.
After the meeting, the Premier stated that he and the Prime Minister agreed to protect our coasts by working together to close gaps in the ocean protection plan. The federal ocean protection plan — let’s be clear, that’s Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific; it’s all three of them — doesn’t address the fundamental and unchanged fact that we cannot protect our coast. We can’t clean up the diluted bitumen if there we’re a spill. You don’t have to believe me, you can believe the Royal Society of Canada or the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S. expert panel reports.
Will the Premier confirm that B.C.’s position is unchanged today and that he will use every tool available to him to stand up for our coast, for science and for our economy in the face of the proposed reckless federal intervention in the Trans Mountain expansion.
Mr. Speaker: Premier, before you answer the question….
Member, if I may ask you to retract your comment about the Liberals from Alberta.
A. Weaver: Sorry, I retract the comment about the Liberals from Alberta. I was trying to suggest that the members opposite are not putting the interests of British Columbians first, and are representing external interests.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Hon. J. Horgan: I thank the member, the Leader of the Third Party, for his question and, particularly, the reference to the Royal Society of Canada and the gaps there are in the science, which, again, brings me back, also, to the question from the previous member.
The government of British Columbia has been meeting regularly with the federal government on the ocean protection plan and discussing the gaps in knowledge, the gaps in science that have been acknowledged by the Royal Society. In fact, that was the foundation of our intervention to go to the public and talk about these issues in January.
I reaffirmed those points, hon. Member, to the Prime Minister and to the leader of the government of Alberta. I said very clearly and without reservation that the province of British Columbia is extremely concerned about the consequences of a catastrophic bitumen spill.
And I’ll remind the member for Skeena, who’s been silent in this House but active outside, of when he said, back in 2013: “There’s no real way to pick this product up out of the marine environment. If they can prove that, then they should show us where it’s being practised around the world. I’m just not willing to actually allow the Haisla people to take a position on that.”
So even some members on that side, hon. Member, agree with us that there is inexact science. We need to do more work on the subject.
A. Weaver: There’s growing evidence to suggest that Kinder Morgan set their outrageous ultimatum as either part of an exit strategy or in order to hand over the financial risk to Canadian taxpayers.
During the NEB hearings on Trans Mountain — I get that the people opposite don’t understand the economics of this — the company brought forward projections that the price of oil in the base-case scenario — if any of them had read the NEB process, they would understand this — would be $100 a barrel. Its best-case scenario saw prices reach $150 a barrel by 2040.
Since then, the development and discovery of new shale oil deposits, as well as OPEC policy changes, mean that oil has been trading at between $40 and $60 a barrel. Even the most optimistic forecast for 2020 is out around $70 a barrel. Despite this new reality, the federal and Alberta governments seem committed to transfer the economic risks onto Canadian taxpayers.
My question is to the Premier. Did he bring up with the Prime Minister the notion that subsidizing this project exposes B.C. taxpayers and Canadian taxpayers to massive risk at a time when there is growing uncertainty about Trans Mountain’s economic benefits, if any, and that it is not in line with the type of economic development needed to position Canada as a leader in the new economy?
Hon. J. Horgan: I thank the member for the question. We did raise, with the federal Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister of Canada, where the economics were in having the government of Canada intervene on behalf of an offshore company to invest B.C. and Canadian tax dollars in a pipeline, when there were other more constructive investments that they could make in the new economy, in the green economy. Or, at a minimum, even if they wanted to invest in diluted bitumen, to work with all parties…. I’m sure members on that side of the House would agree that if we could create more jobs in Canada by adding more value to our raw materials, whether it be diluted bitumen or logs, we should do that.
That was rejected by the government. They chose the course that I believe they’ll be laying out for the people of Canada in the days and weeks ahead, and it’ll be up to the Members of Parliament to debate those mechanisms, those tools, as they come forward. But it will be up to British Columbians and all Canadians to ask themselves if this is an appropriate investment of tax dollars.