Conservative Member of Parliament Kevin Waugh said more than 30 First Nations in northern British Columbia and Alberta will suffer by a proposed Liberal tanker ban.
Waugh made the comments during a debate in the House of Commons Friday over Bill C-48, a law that would enact a moratorium on oil tankers along B.C.’s northern coast.
“This ban would seriously hurt many, and I say many First Nations groups, which have stood to gain from a pipeline in the area,” Waugh said in the House.
Waugh was referring specifically to a pipeline project proposal called Eagle Spirit.
It would refine tar sands in Alberta and send the product along a newly built pipeline from Bruderheim, Alberta to Grassy Point on the north coast of B.C., south of the city of Prince Rupert.
John Helin, a member of Lax Kw’alaams First Nation in northern B.C., and brother of Eagle Spirit’s CEO is Calvin Helin, was in Ottawa yesterday to stress his opposition to the proposed legislation.
“(The tanker ban) is imposing on us more hardship without any consultation,” he said during a press conference, also attended by Conservative MPs Shannon Stubbs and Cathy McLeod.
Helin also supported the now-canceled Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project. It would have created a large LNG export plant on Lelu Island, again near Prince Rupert.
Bill C-48 is currently going through third reading and the Conservative MPs stressed the loss of jobs and poor economic development if it is passed.
“And let’s not kid ourselves, this isn’t a tanker ban. This is to stop development in the resource sector and shipping products to the west coast, nothing more,” said Conservative MP Randy Hoback.
Meanwhile, the NDP announced their support of C-48 during the debate.
But NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson wondered how the Liberal government could ban tanker traffic in the north while supporting the expansion of it in the south through Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
“So we ask the government if you’re willing to put in strong measures on the north coast, why not for the south coast?” she asked.
The Liberals reiterated that the Kinder Morgan project was in the national interest and it will be built.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Government Leader of the House of Commons Kevin Lamoureux expressed disappointment in the NDP’s approach in terms of the national interest.
“And how they’re prepared to forego that based in terms of what they perceive is just one position of the environment has to be taken into consideration,” he said.
“The true national interest would be for the Liberal government to have kept it’s election promises to redo the Kinder Morgan review,” Malcolmson replied. “But most importantly to truly reconcile with Indigenous people. If you’re going to sign off on UNDRIP, then you cannot ram a pipeline through. And it’s in the national interest to protect the environment and that’s what we’re doing.”