Mr. Speaker, I oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion of the TMX pipeline, and I have since 2011. It would boost bitumen oil shipments through the Salish Sea in my riding from once a week to once a day through sensitive ecology that cannot handle a spill. That is all downside and no upside for B.C.'s coast, and it is not in the national interest. Therefore, I and the New Democrats oppose Bill S-245.
Since the Liberals announced that they are buying the TMX pipeline, I have had more input from constituents on this issue than anything else. B.C. people are telling me they feel betrayed by the Prime Minister. They are dismayed the Liberal priorities are so stuck in the past. They are angry that the Prime Minister has bailed out a Texas oil company with a massive payout, to assume onto taxpayers a risk that the corporate interest was unwilling to assume, and dump all the financial and environmental risk onto Canadians. This is all about the future of our country and our environment.
Here is a fast reality check on some of the rationale out there. There is already a pipeline to tidewater. There is no demonstrated market overseas for bitumen and dilbit, and there is no price differential. Even if there was, exporting raw dilbit would be exporting the good jobs that could go with refining and adding value, the jobs the government has said it is trying to protect.
Solid bitumen eliminates the need for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The safest way to ship it is in solid form. No pipeline expansion means no social or first nations impacts, and no need to bail out Kinder Morgan with the $4.5 billion to $12 billion this is estimated to cost. There is certainly no need to buy this aging 65-year old leaky pipeline. All of the savings that could have come from not using taxpayer money that way and all of the benefit that could have come to our country is deeply discouraging. Therefore, I am going to outline the reasons I think it is not in the national interest in the following areas: first nations relationship and our constitutional obligations; endangered species; climate change; oil spill risk; fossil fuel subsidies; and, last, coastal jobs.
Starting with endangered species, the federal government has a clear responsibility to protect species at risk. There was a 2012 court order that told the government it needed to put measures in place to protect the habitat of the orca, which was the number one impact that was identified in the National Energy Board review. As meagre as that review was, it did say that the shipping noise impact was unavoidable and without remediation. The government went ahead and approved the pipeline anyway. The important thing for members to know is that the shipping noise interferes with the orca whales' ability to communicate with each other and to locate the chinook salmon they feed on. Their numbers before the 2012 court ruling were 87 members of the southern resident orca pod, which has now dropped to 75. This summer, international headlines focused the world's attention on the plight of this endangered species. The fact that environmental groups just last week filed another lawsuit against the Liberal government for its failure to protect the orcas shows that its vaunted oceans protection plan is not helping orcas yet.
With respect to the first nations consultations, for the finance minister to say, the very day of the court ruling, that the pipeline will be built and that we will also consult first nations leadership again shows the Liberal government does not get it. It cannot say it is going to consult but it has already decided what it is going to do.
We keep hearing from the government that its most meaningful relationship is with first nations, yet they continue to be pushed to the side. It is particularly coastal first nations that I am talking about here. Certainly, I am reminded by my constituents that this is not all first nations. However, in my own riding, the leadership is extremely concerned and opposed to the approval and expansion of the pipeline because of the oil tanker traffic.
Here is a message that I received this morning by text from my friend, Doug White III. Kwul’a’sul’tun is his Coast Salish name, his Hul’q’umi’num’ name. He is a former chief of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, and he is an elected councillor now. He states that, “Snuneymuxw has been frustrated that while [Kinder Morgan] and the [National Energy Board] said the project ends at the Burnaby terminal, and [Kinder Morgan] has no responsibility beyond that point with respect to tanker shipping of bitumen through the Salish Sea (which represents a total risk of the way of life of the Salish peoples...), they have taken it upon themselves to unilaterally define the project as being in the national interest without ever sitting down with the Snuneymuxw to discuss how the foundational pre-Confederation Treaty of 1854 structures such a decision.”
He goes on to say, “Completely ignoring and effectively denying the Treaty of 1854--particularly its powerful protection of fisheries in the Salish Sea--is the opposite of recognition and reconciliation. Even the colonial government of Vancouver Island in the 1850s knew the basic legal and political reality that they could not extract resources of Vancouver Island without establishing a proper relationship premised on recognition and respect of the continuity of Indigenous control and decision-making about their territories and resources. That is why the Douglas Treaties were established 160 years ago. We have to ask: Is the approach of the current government of Canada less than even a colonial government in the 1850s? The answer is clear.”
That is a condemnation and a huge damage to the national interest, which is of true reconciliation. That is the only way we can move forward.
So much has been said on climate. I am reminded by my constituent David in Nanaimo who wrote to the Prime Minister saying, “Your government says this Texas oil company's pipeline is in the national interest. We believe that having a safe climate is in our national interest, and the two are not compatible.”
I could not say it better myself. The disaster that is climate change barrelling down on us while the government has still failed to do anything stronger than adopt the emission reduction targets of the Harper Conservatives is a deep betrayal. The true national interest would be to truly act strongly and reduce climate change emissions.
On oil tanker safety and protection of the coast, the waters that I represent are one of the four areas in Canada with the highest probability of a large oil spill, according to the 2013 federal tanker safety panel of Transport Canada. It is one of the two areas in Canada with the highest potential impact of a spill.
In 2009, as chair of Islands Trust council, I wrote to the federal government when it was the Conservative government saying, “Please tell us that you are studying the impacts of dilbit, diluted bitumen, in the marine environment.” That evidence was blocked from the National Energy Board. I have been asking repeatedly in question period for the Liberal government to take action, and it has not. We have no demonstrated way to clean up dilbit in the marine environment, especially in a place with the speed of currents and rise and fall of tides that we have.
My constituent Mark wrote to the Prime Minister saying, “Any spill in the oceans surrounding Vancouver Island and the Strait of Georgia would be a national disaster.” I agree with him: not in the national interest but a national disaster.
This also breaks the promise that the Canadian government has made to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. That was a promise made to the G20. It has been repeated again and again. The government has been fighting with the Auditor General these past three years. It will not show the evidence that says it is acting on fossil fuel subsidies. Certainly the purchase of the Kinder Morgan pipeline for $4.5 billion is evidence of further breaking of that fossil fuel subsidy promise. What that money could have been invested in instead, redirecting fossil fuel subsidies into establishing coastal jobs, green, sustainable jobs in renewable industries, would really be keeping all of our promises.
So much is on the line for us on the coast. A UBC study in 2012 said that the potential impacts of a large oil tanker spill could lead to as much as a 43% loss of employment in the province's coastal industries. Twenty thousand people on the Lower Mainland could be affected by a spill, and as much as $687 million in damage to the GDP from a single spill. Again this was identified by UBC.
In closing, I say, again, this is not in the national interest. As a kayak guide, I have had the great privilege of exploring so many of Vancouver Island's and B.C.'s wild places. I am deeply determined, along with my constituents, to stand up and protect the coast. Investing in and accelerating Kinder Morgan's oil tanker traffic is absolutely the opposite of the national interest, and I hope this House will agree.