VICTORIA – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley showed courage visiting British Columbia to voice her support for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Premier Christy Clark said Wednesday.
Clark said Notley bravely came to B.C. to make her province’s case in favour of the $6.8 billion oil pipeline project.
“I think Rachel Notley did the right thing,” Clark said in a conference call with reporters. “I know it takes courage to come to a place where people may not be happy with the decision.”
Notley was in Vancouver this week meeting with various media outlets, but did not hold any public events. She also met with B.C.’s Opposition New Democrat Leader John Horgan, who opposes the pipeline project.
The expansion would triple the capacity of the existing pipeline, which runs from near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., and increase tanker traffic seven-fold. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced federal approval of the pipeline project, saying it was in the national interest.
Clark said the federal and Alberta governments have the most to gain from the Kinder Morgan project.
A Conference Board of Canada report earlier this year pegged the project’s economic benefits to the provincial and federal governments at $18.5 billion in revenues over the pipeline’s first 20 years of operations.
The premier said the five conditions B.C. set for approving the project are close to being met.
Clark said her government is still working with Ottawa on spill response and is preparing to negotiate an economic benefits package with Kinder Morgan that reflects B.C.’s risks associated with the pipeline and increased tanker traffic.
She also repeated her suggestion that Trudeau come to B.C. to publicly detail his government’s support for the pipeline expansion.
The premiers are meeting with the prime minister in Ottawa Friday where the issue will likely come up for discussion along with environmental and health-care issues, Clark said.
Notley said Wednesday in Edmonton that her trip to B.C. helped give Alberta’s side of the debate.
“I was pretty pleased with the degree to which we were able to inject some of the other facts and maybe bring down the intensity (of the debate) a little bit,” she said.
Notley said she didn’t expect to change Horgan’s mind on his opposition to the project.
“There is more that unites us than divides us (between BC and Alberta NDP), but this is an issue on which we are currently divided,” she said.
With files from Dean Bennett in Edmonton.