Federal New Democrats have scheduled a town hall meeting in Penticton next Friday evening to get the Okanagan Valley pulse of the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion.
Richard Cannings, the New Democratic MP for the South Okanagan—West Kootenay, and Nathan Cullen, the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, want to talk with constituents about the pipeline expansion.
A federal court ruling recently halted construction on twinning the pipeline, citing serious concerns with the environmental impact of the pipeline and tanker expansion, and a lack of meaningful consultation with affected Indigenous groups.
The Liberal government has already signalled it means to press ahead with the expansion, having just spent $4.5 billion to purchase the existing pipeline from Kinder Morgan.
“In the Northwest, we faced and fought the exact same process with Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and it was clear it gave virtually no consideration of the effect of a pipeline project on the coast and waterways,” said Mr. Cullen, who has taken the reins in the NDP’s fight to keep the pipelines from BC’s coast.
“(Prime Minister) Trudeau made a clear promise to properly review this pipeline and to meaningfully consult Indigenous groups. Instead the Liberals went ahead with the same failed approval process inherited from Stephen Harper.”
Mr. Cannings said he is hoping that by bringing together a broad range of concerns to listen and engage, the town hall will help unite opposition to the expansion and ensure that the Liberal government does not waste even more public money by challenging the court ruling that halted construction.
“I know that for many residents in Penticton and across BC, the prospect of the Liberal government spending over $10 billion of taxpayer’s money to build a pipeline is deeply troubling,” he said. “Imagine what this money could do if it was invested in clean energy sectors.
“Instead of posing a direct threat to the thousands of jobs in the marine and tourism industries here in BC, we could be helping to build a new carbon free economy.”
He noted the expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline is opposed by a broad range of groups, including Indigenous communities concerned with the threat to the water and resources of their traditional land, and environmentalists opposed to government subsidizing fossil fuel industries that make it impossible to meet Canada’s global carbon reduction targets.
“I look forward to hearing from residents, and I hope that by showing up in large numbers we can send a clear signal to Prime Minister Trudeau that British Columbians are united in their opposition to this reckless expansion.
“We want to make it clear that being truly committed to fighting climate change, and reaching reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, is not achieved by spending billions on a pipeline.”
The town hall meeting will be held at the Penticton Public Library Auditorium next Friday beginning at 7 p.m.