B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman (Hansard TV)

B.C. fires back in escalating Trans Mountain pipeline battle

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The federal government’s move to protect the Trans Mountain pipeline project from delays caused by B.C. is “inappropriate,” B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman says.

Heyman responded Wednesday to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s announcement that Ottawa will provide financial backing for the $7.4 billion pipeline twinning from Alberta to Burnaby to cover any delays caused by B.C.’s efforts to delay it.

“Mr. Morneau appears more concerned about indemnifying a foreign corporation against risk to its investors than indemnifying British Columbians against risk to our coast, to our environment, to tens of thousands of jobs and all of the economic activity in B.C.,” Heyman told reporters. “I think it’s inappropriate. We’ll leave it to other Canadians to voice their concern about that expenditure of taxpayer money.”

RELATED: Morneau says pipeline proceeding, with or without Kinder Morgan

Heyman also responded to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s comments that her government is prepared to “turn off the taps” for fuel shipments to B.C., which is already facing historically high gasoline prices. Notley said in Edmonton Wednesday she is proceeding with its own legislation to regulate fuel shipments.

“We’ve informed the government of Alberta that if they act to implement that bill, we’ll take legal action, and if we have to we’ll seek damages on behalf of British Columbians,” Heyman said. “This is unacceptable. We urge them to refer their bill to the courts just as we have done.”

Premier John Horgan was asked about the escalating situation in Chilliwack, where he was touring flood preparations with B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson.

Wilkinson said he was “taken aback” by aggressive response of the federal and Alberta governments, and suggested that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are “out to teach British Columbia a lesson.”

Horgan agreed that Alberta and the federal government are being “provocative,” especially Alberta’s threat to cut off fuel shipments to B.C.

“If Alberta chooses to proclaim their legislation, we will act to strike it down,” Horgan said.

Wilkinson said Horgan needs to stop launching court actions, “eat a bit of humble pie and realize this pipeline is going ahead.

“Are they going to watch pump prices go through the roof for three years while we go through the courts?” Wilkinson asked.

Horgan reiterated his view that record gasoline prices are a result of a lack of refining capacity, and prices are high across the country.

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