Tensions have risen to the next level on both sides of the British Columbia and Alberta border after Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced Bill 12 on Monday, which could restrict the flow of oil to B.C. from its closest neighbour.
This could result in gas prices spiking in B.C. and the province has responded quickly with a threat to sue Alberta.
Meanwhile, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe joined the fight on Tuesday by saying that he would also table legislation to restrict energy shipments to B.C.
As leaders weigh in from the federal to provincial level from across the country, BNN spoke to people on the ground in B.C. to get their take on whether the political wrangling is having an impact on their business or daily life.
Here’s a look at what various business and environmental groups in B.C. had to say about the Trans Mountain debate.
B.C. ‘STAND DOWN’
Iain Black, CEO of Greater Vancouver Board of Trade said the matter has gone well beyond the merits of the Trans Mountain project and the uncertainty it has created needs to end.
“This is about more than a pipeline. This is about our national economy, the cohesiveness of our country, and the ability for us to think — and act — in the best interest of all Canadians. That’s why we are calling on the B.C. government to ‘stand down’ on its tactics to further delay this project, and calling on the Canadian government to ‘stand up,’ to assert that this project is in the national interest, and put a halt to the uncertainty that threatens to undermine our federation. The rest of the world is watching.”
‘COMPLEXITY AND CONFUSION’
Susan Yurkovich, CEO of Council of Forest Industries said big and small businesses are losing confidence in Canada’s regulatory process over the handling of this project.
“Cost, complexity and confusion are more and more defining the investment climate in B.C. and in Canada. Without confidence in Canada’s regulatory processes – whether seeking a permit to start a small business, harvest a stand of trees or advance a large capital project - we need to have faith in the processes set out by our governments. Without that faith, there can be no confidence in Canada for business operators big or small.”
Chris Gardner, president of Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) said the actions of Premier Horgan has started a trade war with its closest neighbour and is setting a very dangerous precedent.
“Effectively, Premier Horgan is saying that permits and approvals lawfully granted by governments for projects large and small can by pulled any time a new government is elected. That’s not fair, that’s not right, that’s not legal and that’s now how we do business in Canada… It is hard to imagine that Alberta has drawn up legislation to limit the shipment of oil and gas to B.C. and that they are considering stopping B.C. goods at the Alberta border. How is it that we arrived at this point?”
‘WALK AWAY’ FROM PIPELINE
Peter McCartney, climate campaigner at Wilderness Committee said when federal officials talk about removing risk from the pipeline, they actually mean putting that risk on the public.
“All the business owners we hear from join us in our opposition to the proposal. We hear from sports fishers, kayak guide operators and other businesses who rely on B.C.'s pristine waters that a spill from the pipeline or one of its tankers would devastate their livelihoods. From tourism to real estate, our economy relies on the thriving ecosystems that surround us and Alberta is asking us to risk this sustainable economy for a few more years of tar sands extraction.”
JOBS AND PROSPERITY
Laura Jones, executive vice president of Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said small businesses are concerned about this project going forward.
“The majority of small businesses agree with the prime minster in believing that economic development and environmental protection are not enemies, but allies. The majority support projects with appropriate environmental protections in place and the majority support this project. Middle class jobs and prosperity depends on a healthy resource sector.”
‘VITAL’ FOR FUTURE
Rob Fraser, mayor of District of Taylor in northeastern B.C. said the current stance of the B.C. government seems to be driven by “political ideology” and he encourages them to support the project.
“Business owners are consistently telling me the Trans Mountain expansion project is vital to the future of their businesses and the economy of the northeastern part of British Columbia. Business leaders in the north all understand that our economy is being buoyed by the condensate flowing in these pipelines. Liquid condensate is produced from many wells in Northeast B.C. This condensate is used to dilute the heavy crude oil so it can flow in the pipe… I cannot speak for all communities in the north, but many of them are encouraging the B.C. government to continue their advocacy for the rule of law in resource development projects and actively support the Trans Mountain expansion.”