Will British Columbia’s Trans Mountain Pipeline ballot be a vote against it?

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The ruling BC NDP government has refused to block the $7.4bn expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline

A possible B.C. province-wide ballot to protest the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion could be a vote against the anti-pipeline party, says a leading B.C. politician.

Jagmeet Singh is leading the provincial NDP in its effort to win seats in British Columbia’s 2019 provincial election.

The party rules out blocking the $7.4bn project but the Green Party’s Andrew Weaver has said he will block it.

He has also warned that “We need to say no to Enbridge and Kinder Morgan” if they want to build pipelines.

The Trans Mountain expansion had been slated to begin next year but British Columbia’s Liberal government opposed it and opposed the Trans Mountain appeals.

On Monday the company had a court order ordered to stop construction of the line, but it was not clear whether that would force the company to stop work.

The company is considering suspending construction.

On Tuesday Brampton’s Bram Mason tweeted out the Trans Mountain ballot and urged people to vote “NO” if their MP were to bring forward a proposed amendment to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that would prevent Kinder Morgan from proceeding.

“If my MP does that, we have to shut them down,” he said.

“If you think they should have a go at it, please boycott the parties.”

On Tuesday Jagmeet Singh, who represents the federal New Democratic Party in the House of Commons and is leading the provincial race, said the ball was in British Columbia’s court.

“The tar sands pipeline expansion is not in the interest of Canadians,” he told CBC News.

“We need to say no to Enbridge and Kinder Morgan,” he added.

But Mr Singh said a government vote on whether or not to keep opposing the project was not the government’s business.

“This is not a decision for the provincial government or the federal government.”


By BBC News, Washington DC

The implications of this ballot initiative are serious.

It means that a vote against the pipeline means a vote against the BC NDP, which is likely to be punished by the public when elections come around in June 2019.

To the extent that there is public anger about the pipeline, voters do not seem to be politically motivated.

The recent march on the provincial legislature of hundreds of thousands of activists show that.

While polls suggest the future of the project in British Columbia is tenuous, most voters in the province seem to remain onside.

The worst-case scenario for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would be the BC NDP, which he handed power to in 2017, taking a possible electoral beating for its obstinacy on the pipeline, and failing to win back seats it lost last year.

Read our fuller coverage here

The result of the ballot, if passed, could leave Mr Trudeau with few choice but to decide that the pipeline should proceed in order to prevent a split in his coalition government and an election defeat for the Liberals that could destroy the relationship with the NDP for good.

Mr Trudeau would not say outright that he would order Trans Mountain expanded after a vote rejected the expansion.

Canadian Electoral Code v SEC Regulation

I am signing in at the town hall at the Westminster Community Centre. There are currently 175 people in the room. There is a sign up sheet that you can fill out once you arrive. You can register here. @CBCBCTV pic.twitter.com/EOnFj0jFid — Antonio Arnoult (@AntonioArnoult) February 20, 2018

Speaking to the Vancouver Sun, Mr Weaver said the BC Greens were “for a level playing field” and would seek to “ensure that investors get value for their investment”.

But he also said “the courts are the most appropriate avenue, as well as using constitutional rights”.

According to Mr Weaver, a government vote on whether to block the pipeline would be an “abuse of the democratic process”.

“If the BC Liberal and NDP continue to block the project, their actions are serious threats to democracy,” he told the Vancouver Sun.

“And if that’s the case, then democracy has to be protected at all costs.”

If the Liberals win a majority of seats in the elections in June, Mr Trudeau has indicated he will stick to his promise to have the pipeline expansion built.

But a vote against the pipeline could unseat the Liberals if they did not win a majority in the legislature.

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