Burnaby councillor Sav Dhaliwal is disappointed with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
According to the soft-spoken civic official, Trudeau broke a promise.
As Dhaliwal recalled, the then-future prime minister pledged in the election campaign that if he and the Liberal Party win, he’ll press the reset button on proposed oil pipelines.
But despite two letters from the City of Burnaby to suspend the National Energy Board (NEB) review on the planned expansion by Kinder Morgan of its Trans Mountain Pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, Dhaliwal said Trudeau did nothing.
Oral arguments for the project that will triple the pipeline’s capacity 890,000 barrels per day began Tuesday (January 19) at the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre, continuing until January 29.
After a second phase of oral arguments next month in Calgary, the NEB expects to make a recommendation to the federal government in May 2016.
“I’m disappointed in what has transpired so far,” Dhaliwal told the Straight in a phone interview, “because we were quite encouraged by the prime minister’s words during the campaign. He … spoke like a very informed person about the concerns British Columbians had on the … Kinder Morgan pipeline. And he was very clear on basically stating that … he would pause everything because he recognize that the [NEB review] process has been politicized. The [former] Harper government politicized the process.”
Dhaliwal also said: “I believe a lot of British Columbians took him on his words.”
In a January 11, 2016 letter to Trudeau, Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan recalled that the prime minister’s statement in May last year on the campaign trail was clear that if he and his party form government, the NEB process will be overhauled.
“It’s obvious the Harper government’s politicization of the National Energy Board, the process around approval for projects like this, is not working, and if there’s any hope for projects like this and others to go forward there needs to be a restoration of public trust. That’s why we’ve announced were going to engage in a new open process for all pipelines,” Corrigan quoted then-candidate Trudeau.
The Liberal election platform stated that the party will “immediately review Canada’s environmental assessment processes and introduce new, fair processes”.
“Canadians must be able to trust that government will engage in appropriate regulatory oversight, including credible environmental assessments, and that it will respect the rights of those most affected, such as Indigenous communities,” the platform noted. “While governments grant permits for resource development, only communities can grant permission.”
In the interview, Dhaliwal recalled that Trudeau’s platform also promised to modernize the NEB, ensuring that its composition reflects regional views and has expertise on environmental science, community development, and indigenous knowledge.
“Those were very clear commitments,” Dhaliwal said, “and you know, if you recognize the process is not working, if you recognize that the process has been politicized, if you recognize the NEB … has been politicized, then why would you want to proceed with one more pipeline under that broken process?”