Premier John Horgan takes questions outside his office at the B.C. legislature Thursday, April 12, 2018. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

John Horgan braces for Ottawa meeting with Rachel Notley

Invest in refineries, not Trans Mountain pipeline, B.C. Premier says

As he prepares to fly to Ottawa for a meeting on the escalating pipeline dispute, B.C. Premier John Horgan has some advice for Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I’ve heard speculation that the federal government and the provincial government in Alberta may invest in the pipeline,” Horgan said Thursday. “If they have disposable billions, I would suggest a better course of action would be to invest in refining capacity so that we Canadians can benefit from the jobs, and we Canadians can benefit from this natural resource, rather than sending it in raw form to another jurisdiction.”

Infuriated over Horgan’s efforts to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion despite approval by both B.C. and Ottawa, Notley has said her government would invest in the twinning project or even take it over to make sure it gets built.

Trudeau has invited both premiers to Ottawa on Sunday, interrupting his tour of South America and Europe to try to resolve the bitter dispute between two NDP provincial governments.

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Horgan said Thursday he intends to continue preparing a reference case for court on whether B.C. has jurisdiction to influence the pipeline project. He stuck to that position after B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman admitted in the legislature earlier this week that the government’s legal advice is B.C. has no jurisdiction.

Tim McMillan, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said in an interview Thursday that he has no particular problem with governments investing in oil and gas projects. But the problem here is B.C.’s obstruction of a duly approved project, he said.

I think Premier Horgan is setting up a false question when he raises things of that nature,” he said. “We refine more product than we use, so we are a net exporter of refined product. Could we refine more, sure. But I think we have to make sure the economics work for that.”

McMillan noted that the presidents of the ScotiaBank and the Royal Bank have spoken out in recent days, warning that continued disruption of pipeline investments is causing investment loss from Canada.

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McMillan joined representatives of the mining, forest and other industries in Vancouver Thursday to call for urgent federal action to get the Trans Mountain project moving.

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