An open letter from Don and his BC colleagues to Justin Trudeau re: Kinder Morgan pipeline decision

During last year’s election campaign, you made a solemn promise to British Columbians that the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline project would not be approved following the Conservatives’ broken environmental review process. You told us it would be “redone” and that First Nations would be respected by enhanced consultation.

Many voters believed you and B.C. Liberal candidates, like Terry Beech and Jonathan Wilkinson, who also promised that a Liberal government would ensure that a new, more rigorous review process would be implemented for Kinder Morgan. These voters were misled.

On Nov. 29, when you personally approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline, you broke that solemn promise, ignored widespread concerns about the environmental impact of the project, and betrayed the trust of British Columbians and Indigenous peoples.

Even your government’s hand-picked ministerial panel admitted that this project faces vigorous opposition from First Nations communities and an enormous number of British Columbians. This panel concluded you had failed to give them the mandate to address serious gaps in the Harper government’s National Energy Board review.

Your careless decision will see seven times as many large tankers, loaded with bitumen, in the Burrard Inlet and the Salish Sea. The recent Bella Bella oil spill reminded us that the B.C. coast is ill-prepared for this dramatic increase in tanker traffic, and experts are concerned that increased tanker traffic alone could bring the endangered population of southern resident orcas to extinction.

Your decision also demonstrates that you have ignored the wishes of the vast majority of British Columbians who have told you in the clearest terms that Kinder Morgan’s pipeline and tanker project does not have the social licence that you told us would be required. Even the Liberal platform clearly stated that “while governments grant permits for resource development, only communities can grant permission.” The communities most directly affected by the decision, including the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby, and many First Nations, did not grant permission.

As you know, New Democrats have insisted that for any development projects to move forward, there must be a thorough, credible environmental review process. As well, it needs to strictly respect the constitutional rights of First Nations. During the campaign you echoed these views, but since the election we have come to understand that these were just empty words. It is now clear that you were simply saying what you needed to say to win the hearts and minds of British Columbians. 

Honourable prime minister, British Columbians will not sit idly by and let you gamble with our coastline, our regional economies and our shared future.

We will stand with those who fight for a sustainable future for our beautiful province.

B.C. NDP Members of Parliament Kennedy Stewart, Rachel Blaney, Richard Cannings, Nathan Cullen, Don Davies, Fin Donnelly, Randall Garrison, Gord Johns, Peter Julian, Jenny Kwan, Alistair MacGregor, Sheila Malcolmson, Murray Rankin and Wayne Stetski.

This article was originally published in the Vancouver Sun on December 12, 2016. Click here to see the original version.

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