Allowing the twinning of the Kinder-Morgan pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby was a tough decision for the Liberal government, but it’s one that Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge Liberal MP Dan Ruimy supports.
“At the end of the day, the government has to make the big decisions. That’s what they were elected for,” Ruimy said.
“It’s a decision that, I think, was the right direction to be going in.”
Jobs are one benefit to the decision to allow the twinning of the 60-year-old pipeline so that Alberta oils sands products can be shipped down the U.S. coast or to Asia.
“The Kinder Morgan was passed, but the Northern Gateway was not. And by far, the Northern Gateway [from Edmonton to Kitimat] was the bigger issue out there when people spoke to me,” said Ruimy.
“I’m very happy that we did not pass Northern Gateway and that we formalized the moratorium [on shipping oil] on the coast. That was extremely important.
“You can’t debate the jobs part of it.”
The Northern Gateway would have seen oil tankers loading up in Kitimat, off B.C’s northern coastline.
Natural Resources Canada said Tuesday that the $6.8-billion Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project will create 15,000 jobs during construction. It’s subject to 157 conditions and expected to rake in $4.5 billion in federal and provincial revenues.
Ruimy said he respected that people oppose the twinning of the pipeline and that they’ll demonstrate against it. That’s part of the democratic process, he added.
And he’s OK if he gets voted out next election as a result of his position.
“I have a job to do. If I’ve done my job right, then I’ll get re-elected.”
Ruimy said pipelines aren’t the only issue in the riding, and that people are concerned about lakes and streams and the Fisheries Act review that’s ongoing and restoring salmon habitat.
The government had to make a decision on the pipeline twinning and Ruimy believed in the consultation process undertaken through the ministerial panel, which heard about 35,000 submissions. The process was complementary to the one by the National Energy Board.
But only a fifth of those who put in submissions to the ministerial panel opposed the Kinder Morgan pipeline, he noted.
Ruimy said he supported the previously announced Ocean Protection Plan to improve shipping safety.
He said many people told him it wasn’t the pipeline they were worried about. More were concerned about oil shipments by rail.
People were thinking that if there’s no pipeline, there’s reduced need for oil, but that’s not true because it’s still an oil-based economy, he added.
Ruimy hasn’t heard much public feedback about the pipeline announcements.
He said knows that there will be some who don’t like the decision.
“I know it’s difficult. It’s a difficult decision.”
Mike Murray, the Conservative candidate from the 2015 election, also supports the pipeline.
“I think we’ve got to get our resources to market, obviously to Asia.”
Murray said the government approved the pipeline under the NEB process that was in force when the Conservatives were in office.
“The reality is the NEB process hasn’t changed,” Murray added.
The Liberals, during the 2015 election, said they would modernize the National Energy Board.
Some may have voted for Ruimy during the last election based on the issue, Murray said.
Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline replacement program, from Alberta to Manitoba, was also approved.
Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said on Facebook that she found the decision to approve the Kinder Morgan pipeline “very disappointing.”
“I believe our prime minister has underestimated the resolve of British Columbians on this issue,” Read said.
Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton said his B.C. Liberal government is prepared to move ahead with the pipeline providing the 157 conditions are met.
“We want to make sure that the environmental issues are being addressed.”
In 2012, the B.C. government has also set five conditions before a pipeline was to be built. They were for the completion of the environmental review process, a world-leading oil spill response for the coast and for pipelines, addressing First Nations treaty rights and for B.C. to get its share of the economic benefits.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark said Wednesday that progress is being made on meeting those conditions. She wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to come to B.C. to argue for the pipeline.
Dalton said the NDP seems to be confused on the issue but Bob D’Eith, who’s seeking the NDP nomination in Maple Ridge-Mission, said his party is opposed to the pipeline.
“The mayor (Gregor Robertson) of Vancouver is completely opposed to it because it’s seven times the increase in tanker traffic,” D’Eith added.
D’Eith said that Clark is hedging on the issue and not taking a stand. “It is an election issue at this point,” said D’Eith.
He said the NDP supports more progressive projects than the fossil fuel industry and that an oil spill would hurt B.C.’s economy. “The risk … for B.C.er’s is way higher than the return.”
TransMountain says the project construction and operation over 20 years, will produce about $47 billion in provincial and federal government royalties.