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Responding to government spill response measures

Today the BC Government announced its second phase of regulations to improve preparedness, response and recovery from potential spills. As part of this announcement, restrictions have been put in place to ensure that there will be no increased transport of diluted bitumen (dilbit) in British Columbia until the fate and behaviour of a dilbit spill is better understood scientifically and there is adequate ability to clean up such a spill.

My colleagues and I are very pleased with this announcement. Those who have been following developments on this file will know that I spent an enormous amount of time serving as an intervenor as part of the National Energy Board hearings on the Transmountain pipeline expansion. In fact, in December 2013, we called on the then BC Liberal government to impose a moratorium on dilbit transport on our coast due to the inadequacy of British Coumbia’s spill response and uncertainty in the scientific understanding of fate and behaviour of a dilbit spill. This was further emphasized in my final argument, oral testimony and open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau.

Below I reproduce the press release that we issued in support of the government’s announcement.

Media Release

Weaver responds to government spill response measures
For immediate release
January 30, 2018

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, responded today to Minister George Heyman’s announcement that the government is proposing additional measures to protect our environment and coastal waters from heavy oil spills.

“I am pleased to see Minister Heyman putting evidence and science front and centre in government decision-making where it belongs,” said Weaver.

“In particular, I welcome the independent scientific advisory panel that will be established to assess whether regulations can mitigate the impact of heavy oil spills in our precious coastal waters. Our coastal waters provide significant economic activity for our province and the entire country, be it from tourism, fishing or real estate, and are of great cultural significance to First Nations. It is essential that they be adequately protected.

“For several years my office participated extensively in the NEB hearing process for the TransMountain pipeline. We presented evidence from two independent expert assessments that validated our evidence by making it abundantly clear that we simply to not know enough to properly assess the risk and potential damages associated with a diluted bitumen spill in the Salish Sea.

“I look forward to the new panel providing complete, robust and accurate information on this matter to the Minister that reinforces what which we already know – that there is no way currently to adequately respond to a spill of diluted bitumen.

“Furthermore, I am pleased that the government will examine important issues like response times, geographically-specific response needs for our diverse province and compensation for loss of public and cultural use of land, resources or public amenities. B.C. has a rich history of sustainable natural resource development, but it must be done in a way that benefits British Columbians. We must ensure that we are not putting our economy and our communities at risk.”

Weaver was the only MLA to intervene as an individual in the National Energy Board hearings on the TransMountain pipeline expansion. His office was an active participant in the NEB hearing process and submitted a comprehensive report outlining major issues with the spill response regime. Adam Olsen, now Green Party MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, also intervened as a member of the Tsartlip First Nation.



The reports referenced above are:

  1. The Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel Report entitled: The Behaviour and Environmental Impact of Crude Oil Released in Aqueous Environments;
  2. The US National Academy of Science’s report entitled: Spills of Diluted Bitumen from Pipelines: A Comparative Study of Environmental Fate, Effects, and Response.

Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Statement on today’s announcement on Trans Mountain expansion project

Today my colleague Adam Olsen and I released a statement on the Government’s announcement regarding steps that they were going to take to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project from going ahead. As you will see from the statement I reproduce below, we applaud Premier Horgan’s strong leadership on this issue and his government’s demonstration that it intends to make good on this crucial promise.

Media Statement

Weaver and Olsen statements on government action on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion
August 10, 2017
For Immediate Release

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver and Adam Olsen responded to the NDP minority government’s announcement that it is taking action to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from proceeding.

“I am very pleased by the government’s announcement today,” said Weaver. “Employing every tool available to the new government to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline is a key commitment in our Confidence and Supply Agreement. I applaud Premier Horgan’s strong leadership on this issue and his government’s demonstration that it intends to make good on this crucial promise.

“In the B.C. Green caucus’ view the National Energy Board process that led to this project’s approval was profoundly flawed. Numerous questions remain unanswered or were simply dismissed. To cite one example, the entire marine spill response was predicated on the existence of 20 hours of sunlight. There is no place south of Tuktoyaktuk that has that much sunlight on any day of the year.

“Government has a responsibility to base major decisions affecting the lives and livelihood of so many people on sound evidence, and in the case of TransMountain that standard was not met. In fact, expert panels from both the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada have highlighted the fact that there would be be little ability to clean up a diluted bitumen spill in the coastal environment.

“B.C.’s future lies in innovative growth areas like clean tech and the value-added resource sector, not the sunset fossil fuel industry of the last century. B.C. has everything it needs to be a leader in these areas – it is simply a matter of priorities. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the house to develop good public policy that will ensure B.C.’s prosperity for generations to come.”

Weaver was the only MLA in the B.C. Legislature that acted as an intervenor in the National Energy Board hearings on the TransMountain pipeline expansion project. Adam Olsen, now MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, was also an intervenor.

“It is time to change the relationship with First Nations in British Columbia and this new minority government has a chance to do things differently when it comes to working with First Nations on projects that impact their communities,” said Olsen, who is a member of the Tsartlip First Nation.

“A foundational piece of the agreement between our two caucuses is our mutual support of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls-to-action and the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court Decision. Indigenous rights and interests are clearly an important part of the Provincial and National interest and I am proud that our Provincial government is recognizing that. Together we can build a province where the government is finally accountable to all of the people it serves.”


Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Statements on Pacific Northwest LNG & Trans Mountain Expansion Projects

Yesterday I issued a statement in response to Petronas’s announcement that it will not be proceeding with its Pacific Northwest LNG project. As I mentioned more than four years ago, global market conditions were never going to support an LNG industry in British Columbia on the scale the BC Liberals promised. This decision by Petronas was not unexpected.  I reproduce my statement below.

In addition, a number of media outlets asked me to comment on the Attorney General’s remarks regarding the Trans Mountain permitting process as well as subtle changes in the language used in the Minister of Environment’s mandate letter. That letter stated that the Premier expects the Minister of Environment to make “substantive progress” on a number of priorities. These include:

Employ every tool available to defend B.C.’s interests in the face of the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and the threat of a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic on our coast.

Recall that the Confidence and Supply Agreement, ratified by both the BC NDP and BC Green Caucuses, specifically states that an NDP government will:

Immediately employ every tool available to the new government to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the seven-fold increase in tanker traffic on our coast, and the transportation of raw bitumen through our province.

This language was based on similar language in the BC NDP 2017 election platform as well as long-standing BC Green opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline. The BC NDP election platform specifically said:

The Kinder Morgan pipeline is not in BC’s interest. It means a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic. It doesn’t, and won’t, meet the necessary conditions of providing benefits to British Columbia without putting our environment and our economy at unreasonable risk. We will use every tool in our toolbox to stop the project from going ahead.

My comments, reproduced in Huffington Post and Canadian Press articles, point out that:

As an opposition party, we will remain steadfast in calling on the NDP government to use every legally available tool to stop the pipeline from going ahead

Statement on Petronas Announcement

For immediate release
July 25, 2017
Andrew Weaver statement on Pacific Northwest LNG

– Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green caucus, issued the following statement in response to Petronas’s announcement that it will not be proceeding with its Pacific Northwest LNG project.

“Since the beginning it has been clear that the global marketplace does not support the LNG industry that the BC Liberals promised in their 2013 election campaign,” said Weaver.

“Rather than doing the hard work​ required to strengthen and secure the economic opportunities already available in other sectors, the BC Liberals recklessly went all in on a single industry. They let opportunities for innovation and economic development in clean technology, the resource sector, and other major BC industries fall by the wayside.

“BC’s future does not lie in chasing yesterday’s fossil fuel economy; it lies in taking advantage of opportunities in the emerging economy in order to create economic prosperity in BC. These opportunities must be available to people in all regions of our province.

“The BC Green caucus is committed to developing these opportunities in the emerging economy that all British Columbians can access. This is the vision we ran on.”


Media contact
Sarah Miller, Acting Press Secretary
+1 250-858-9891 | sarah.miller@leg.bc.ca

Question Period: The influence of lobbying and corporate donations

Today in the Legislature I was up in Question Period. I questioned the Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton, about the lobbying and donation practices of the fossil fuel industry and the effect on government decision-making. I also asked about reforms needed to regulate the lobbying industry in BC and bring it in line with federal standards.

My question follows reports in the media over this week that lobbyists are engaging in illegal donation practices on behalf of their clients, as well as a recent analysis that maps the influence of the fossil fuel industry in BC politics, highlighting extensive lobbying practices and vast amounts of political donations. Both reports can be found at the end of this article.

Below are the text and video of the exchange. I was disappointed with the Minister’s answers. She merely restated that we have a registry of lobbyists in BC. We do have a registry, but its usefulness as a tool of transparency is severely limited, since lobbyists are not required to report the meetings they hold with public office holders. Moreover, we have no code of conduct for lobbyists to regulate practices such as gift-giving to public office holders. The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists recommended both of these measures, back in 2013, as important ways to make lobbying practices more transparent in BC. Yet the government has ignored these recommendations and the Minister of Justice was unwilling to engage on this serious issue.


A. Weaver: Vast amounts of money are flowing from fossil fuel companies to both the B.C. Liberals and — to a much lesser extent, mind you — the B.C. NDP.

Between 2008 and 2015, 48 fossil fuel companies and industry groups donated $5.2 million to the government and official opposition and reported more than 22,000 lobbying contacts with public officials between 2010-2016. With seven of the top donors also ranking among the most active lobbyists, there is a substantial overlap between those who give money and those who get meetings.

To further that, 28 percent of lobbying by the top-ten most active lobbyists has been directly with cabinet ministers — an unrivaled level of access — and the Minister of Natural Gas Development is the most targeted member in the entire Legislature.

In light of this, my question to the Minister of Justice is this. How does the government expect the public to trust that their interests are being protected and that these practices are not buying lobbyists and their clients special treatment?


Hon. S. Anton: It may be that the member was not here yesterday to know that we actually established the first-ever lobbyist registry in 2002 to establish transparency so British Columbians could see who is doing the lobbying. There never was a registry before that. After some years of experience with that registry, we updated it in 2009, creating one of the strongest regimes for lobbyist registration in Canada.

The updates increased the registrar’s powers and duties so the lobbyist registrar now has the power to conduct investigations, to compel testimony and to compel documents. In other words, the lobbyist registrar has the tools that he or she needs in order to make sure that the registry is conducted properly and that the lobbyists are conducting themselves in accordance with the rules, which is what I expect, which is what we expect as a government.

Supplemental Question

A. Weaver: I’m glad the minister talked about the lobbying registry, because frankly, we are one of the weaker in the country of Canada. B.C. lacks rules to regulate lobbying practices and ensure transparency.

We know that extensive lobbying is ongoing in B.C., but we have no code of conduct for lobbyists. Moreover, we have no requirement in B.C. for lobbyists to register actual meetings with public office holders. All they have to do is register who they plan to lobby. Other jurisdictions in Canada have much stricter standards.

It’s clear to me that with our rampant cash-for-access system and allegations that lobbyists are engaging in illegal donation practices on behalf of their clients — largely to the B.C. Liberals but also to the B.C. NDP — that we need much more stringent rules. We need standards against which the public can hold lobbyists and their contacts in the government to account.

My question to the Minister of Justice is: will the minister commit to transparency on lobbying practices, including requiring lobbyists to report on actual meetings held with government officials and creating a code of conduct for lobbyists?


Hon. S. Anton: The matter that the member referred to about contributions is very clearly, if that were to happen, a breach not of the lobbyists act but of the Election Act. The Election Act in section 186(2)(b) says that “an individual may make a political contribution with the money of another individual, but must disclose to the individual required to record the contribution under section 190….”

In other words, you can make a payment on behalf of a third party, but the third party must be disclosed. It must be very clear that it is that third party’s money which has gone to the payment. That is a breach of the Election Act. It is very clearly a breach if that is conducted. I think that that’s the conduct the member is referring to.

In fact, to the lobbying act itself, the 2009 updates to the act put very strict and significant penalties into that act for breaches of the act.

Video from Question Period



Mapping Political Influence: Political donations and lobbying by the fossil fuel industry in BC, Corporate Mapping Project, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Available at: http://www.corporatemapping.ca/bc-influence/.

Lobbying in British Columbia: The Way Forward: Report on Province-Wide Consultations and Recommendations for Reform, Elizabeth Denham, Registrar of Lobbyists. Available at: https://www.lobbyistsregistrar.bc.ca/handlers/DocumentHandler.ashx?ID=447.

‘Fairly limited’ transparency rules for lobbyists in B.C., deputy registrar says,  Liam Britten, CBC News. Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/lobbying-lobbyists-b-c-1.4014551.

British Columbia: The ‘wild west’ of fundraising, Kathy Tomlinson, CBC News. Available at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/investigations/wild-west-bc-lobbyists-breaking-one-of-provinces-few-political-donationrules/article34207677/.

Statement on BC Government’s Approval of Kinder Morgan Pipeline

Statement on BC Government’s Approval of Kinder Morgan Pipeline
For immediate release
January 11, 2017

VICTORIA B.C. – BC Green Party Leader, Andrew Weaver, and BC Green Candidate for Saanich North and the Islands, Adam Olsen, have issued the following statement in response to the BC Government’s approval of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline.

“Only the BC Liberals would suggest the approval of a heavy oil pipeline that puts our communities and coastline at risk was done to advance our healthy environment,” said Andrew Weaver. “I reviewed the exact same material as the BC Government as an official intervenor and I can tell you unequivocally, the evidence does not support this decision. The evidence does not support their assurances that we can adequately respond to a heavy oil spill, nor does it backup the government’s misleading claims about the economic effects this pipeline will have.”

“You’d think that, at the very least, Kinder Morgan would have been expected to show that they can clean up a dilbit spill to get approval. But they haven’t – because they can’t,” said Adam Olsen. “To make the situation even more absurd, the government is responding to evidence that says we are unable to remove spilled dilbit from a marine environment by saying ‘don’t worry about it, Kinder Morgan will figure it out.’”

“This is the result of a ‘get to yes, no matter the costs’ approach to economic policy. We have a project being approved that most British Columbians are against. We have a process that actively excluded communities. Now the government is arbitrarily suggesting that its conditions have been met, while the evidence shows that’s impossible.”

Both Andrew Weaver and Adam Olsen were interveners in the Kinder Morgan Hearing process, submitting hundreds of questions and reviewing thousands of pages of documentation from Kinder Morgan.

– 30 –

Media contact
Mat Wright, Press Secretary, Office of Andrew Weaver, MLA
+1 250-216-3382 | mat.wright@bcgreens.ca