Political arithmetic of pipeline, dam and Ajax worrisome

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
August 11, 2017 - 4:54am

KAMLOOPS — Is anyone else feeling a little nervous about a possible unfortunate connection between the Trans Mountain pipeline, Site C dam and Ajax copper mine projects?

The provincial government announced yesterday it has hired Tom Berger as external counsel in a legal action on the pipeline.

"We are committed to fighting for B.C.'s interests and it is government's desire to seek intervenor status in legal challenges to federal approval of the pipeline expansion and increased oil tanker traffic off B.C.'s coast," said Attorney General David Eby.

"Mr. Berger will provide legal advice to government on the options for participation in legal challenges, and those hearings are scheduled to begin in federal court later this fall."

The government also said work on the project can’t proceed on public lands until meaningful consultation with Indigenous people has been properly completed. Kinder Morgan had planned to have shovels in the ground next month.

Peter Milobar, the BC Liberals’ environment critic (this appointment, by the way, is one of the more baffling ones for the Liberals in their new role as opposition, for nothing in Milobar’s background suggests environment as a particular interest or skill set of his) issued the expected response that the NDP government’s actions will drive away investment. “One has to question, what project is next?” he asked as quoted in a CFJC Today story. He mentioned Site C, adding, “One has to wonder where in the Interior of B.C. the NDP are talking about all of these jobs that they’re planning on creating. So far, all they keep announcing are ways to slow down and hinder the economy, not expand and grow it.”

Milobar may have put his finger on a political conundrum facing the New Democrats.

One has to wonder, if the John Horgan government is successful in stopping both Trans Mountain and Site C, whether it will be looking around for something to approve. A three-up three-down record on major industrial projects might not be the kind of thing the new government wants to wear.

So, giving the green light to Ajax would allow it to say, “See, we aren’t against all industry, just some.”

Which, of course, would be a terrible result for Kamloops. The Ajax decision simply must be made independent of the outcomes on Trans Mountain and Site C, but the arithmetic is worrisome.