VICTORIA – British Columbia’s three Green members will use their increased political clout to fight Kinder Morgan’s $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, party leader Andrew Weaver says.
Weaver reaffirmed the Greens’ election campaign promises Wednesday to oppose the pipeline and the B.C. government’s $8.8-billion Site C hydroelectric dam as the party enters high-stakes political negotiations with the New Democrats and Liberals over Green support.
The final results of last week’s B.C. election remain inconclusive after Christy Clark’s Liberals and John Horgan’s New Democrats failed to win a majority in the 87-seat legislature. The current standings have 43 Liberals, 41 New Democrats and three Greens.
Elections BC, the agency that administers provincial elections, reports that almost 180,000 absentee ballots remain to be counted. The final tally, including recounts in two ridings, Vancouver-False Creek and Courtenay-Comox, is expected to be announced next week.
Weaver said his members believe it’s their responsibility to stop the federally-approved Kinder Morgan project.
“We believe we need to support the First Nations in B.C. who are in court now,” he said.
Weaver said the Greens will seek intervener status to support a pending legal challenge by First Nations and municipalities opposed to the project.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Tuesday her province had been given intervener status in the same legal action. One province or region can’t hold hostage the economy of another province, she said.
The Federal Court of Appeal application, launched by several First Nations, environmental groups and the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver, seeks to have the approval of the pipeline expansion project by the National Energy Board thrown out.
The Kinder Morgan project would double the pipeline and triple the available capacity between Alberta and B.C., allowing for up to 890,000 barrels of crude to be shipped every day.
Weaver said the Greens strongly reject the B.C. Liberal government’s support for the project.
“The fact we’re being told to ship diluted bitumen in our coastal waters is just reckless,” he said. “The government is reckless for agreeing to it.”
Clark said Tuesday that B.C. negotiated $1.5 billion worth of environmental protections and services with the federal government in exchange for provincial support for the pipeline project. The Liberals also negotiated a 20-year revenue-sharing agreement worth about $1 billion with Kinder Morgan.
Weaver said the National Energy Board approval process for the pipeline was flawed and Clark’s demand that five conditions be met before her government approved the expansion was “pure political spin.”
Clark said she is willing to collaborate with the Greens and the New Democrats to ensure a working government.
The NDP leader has said his party won’t work with the Liberals, but he believes the New Democrats and Greens share many common positions, including halting the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Weaver said he is prepared to enter face-to-face negotiations with both parties.
He suggested the Greens and NDP appear more aligned on issues surrounding the environment and electoral and campaign-finance reforms.
Weaver, who said he negotiated faculty contracts at the University of Victoria, said he will head up the four-person Green negotiating team. Norman Spector, a chief aide to both former prime minister Brian Mulroney and former B.C. premier Bill Bennett, was recruited to provide political advice to the Green negotiators.