Is the Northern Gateway pipeline dead?
Monday, October 26, 2015 @ 3:45 AM
By Bill Phillips
My apologies to Todd Doherty.
In my last column, I suggested that he did not have a job to fall back on if he didn’t win the election. In fact, Doherty is a small business owner, so he certainly would have had something to return to.
My apologies and congratulations.
• • •
As the dust continues to settle on the federal election, one of the questions facing northern B.C. is the fate of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline.
Has it sunk like bitumen in a pristine waterway?
Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau stated during the campaign that he does not support the project, which started out as a $6 billion project but is now projected at close to $9 billion. Trudeau told the Vancouver Sun that such a pipeline has no place in the Great Bear Rainforest … so good luck going around it because the rainforest covers most of the B.C. coast.
During the campaign, Cariboo-Prince George Liberal candidate Tracy Calogheros demanded that Enbridge remove her image from a website associated with the pipeline. She obviously wasn’t for the pipeline either, and her photo was used in her capacity as CEO of The Exploration Place.
Trudeau has proposed a moratorium on oil tankers off B.C.’s north coast, which would effectively scuttle the project as well.
There are many who feel that the project was dead long before Monday’s federal election.
One thing is certain, it will have a tougher path now with Trudeau and the Liberals setting federal policy.
However, the Government of Canada has already approved the project, subject to the company meeting 209 conditions imposed by Ottawa.
So what happens if Enbridge rolls up next week and tells Ottawa that it has met those 209 conditions and British Columbia’s five conditions, to boot?
The Conservatives, when they were in power, were criticized for politicizing such decisions. They took the final decision for major projects out of the hands of the Joint Review Panel, which actually holds hearings and investigates projects, and gave it to the minister responsible (which under the Harper government meant the Prime Minister’s Office).
So, will Trudeau use that hammer the opposite way and kibosh the project even if it meets the conditions set out by the federal government?
Should that happen, would Enbridge then be entitled to some compensation? Enbridge would likely feel it is. After all, it has piped (sorry, poor pun) a ton of cash into the project and, should it meet the 209 conditions (granted a pretty tall order), it would have done what is required of it. To still have the rug pulled out after all that for, purely political reasons, would, no doubt, move things into the courtroom.
Trudeau might want to wait and see if the project dies on its own accord. Just saying ‘no’ might be a costly decision.
Bill Phillips is a freelance columnist living in Prince George. He was the winner of the 2009 Best Editorial award at the British Columbia/Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s Ma Murray awards, in 2007 he won the association’s Best Columnist award. In 2004, he placed third in the Canadian Community Newspaper best columnist category and, in 2003, placed second. He can be reached at email@example.com