After the federal government’s announcement on Tuesday that it has agreed to purchase the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project for $4.5 billion, BC Premier John Horgan said the announcement “does not reduce the risk of a diluted bitumen spill and the impact that would have on BC’s economy and its environment.”
Horgan made the comments during a press conference held in response the decision.
“It does not change the course that the Government of British Columbia has been on,” he said. “I will continue to do my best to protect BC’s interests by ensuring that our coast, our water, and our land is kept pristine so that our economy can continue to grow.
Horgan added he will continue to “work for the people of British Columbia with the full force of my efforts within the courts and within the rule of law.”
Despite the federal government’s decision, he said, ” I believe it is appropriate for us to continue down that road.”
Asked about what happens now, in terms of his government’s court challenge, now that the pipeline is under federal jurisdiction, Horgan clarified that his government’s reference case does not “speak to a specific project,” but rather, it speaks to “the transportation of diluted bitumen through BC by rail or pipe.”
Essentially, it deals with “what British Columbia could do to ensure that if there is the transportation of diluted bitumen that we are doing everything in our power to protect our air, water, and land. That will continue.”
As such, Horgan said his government’s reference case remains, and “I said as much to the Prime Minister this morning, and there was no comment from him on that.”
Horgan also spoke to the question of whether or not the pipeline issue is a personal one between him and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying that has never been the case.
“He has responsibilities as the leader of the Government of Canada and I have responsibilities as the leader of the Government of British Columbia.”
In January, he added, “we set out to talk to British Columbians about how a new government could put in place a regulatory framework to protect our interests over the long-term and we’re going to continue to do that.”
Horgan said his government has “not been provocative,” but rather has “looked at the options available to us… to ensure we’re protecting the interests of British Columbia.”
Those options included entering into an existing court case and “we launched a consultation that became a reference case.”
Decision “motivated” by private company
Horgan said the federal government’s decision was “motivated by a private company, who gave a deadline – not to me, and not to the people of British Columbia – but to someone they characterized as stakeholders.”
The federal government, he continued, “has responded and that’s their business.”
With construction slated to take place, Horgan was asked whether there was anything his government could do at this point.
“It’s never been our intention to do anything other than protect BC’s coast, and BC’s interests through the courts,” he responded. “When we were sworn in, we were advised of the circumstances we find ourselves in… and the options we had available to us, and we have exercised those options.”
Asked about what the decision does to Canada’s reputation as a leader on climate change, Horgan said that was a question for the federal government.
“What I know, is that we have a climate action plan that we’re working on… we’ve passed legislation giving specific targets, for greenhouse gas reductions by 2030, and we’re carrying on,” he said.
More to come…