NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says the premiers of Alberta and British Columbia are each fulfilling their promises to constituents on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, in spite of the fact that they now find themselves in direct conflict.
“Premier (Rachel) Notley is doing exactly what she promised she would do for the people of Alberta: defend the economy. Premier (John) Horgan is doing what he promised to do for B.C.: defend the environment and the coastline,” Singh told host Eric Sorensen during this weekend’s edition of The West Block.
“This is exactly why we have a federal government, and really the responsibility lies on the prime minister and the federal government.”
Trans Mountain pipeline fight causing heated debates across Canada
The Liberals have promised that they will, if needed, step in to ensure the Trans Mountain expansion goes ahead. It was given the green light by Ottawa in 2016, but B.C.’s Horgan now says his province wants to restrict any increase in diluted bitumen shipments until it can study how best to respond to spills.
Notley has argued that the future of the pipeline rests solely with Ottawa, and that B.C. has no right to intervene.
Asked if he, like many members of the New Democratic Party, comes down on Horgan’s side, Singh said he believes the basic process for approving a project like Trans Mountain needs an overhaul.
“(The process) should be modernized and it should be such that the project is re-put to this new process, evaluated with science and evidence and ensure that the decision is independent and gives people confidence,” he said. “And then we can move forward.”
The Liberals did recently announce a major overhaul of the assessment and approvals process, something that Singh said shows they are responding to pressure from his party and environmental groups. But it still seems too political, he added, leaving the door open to final ministerial vetos or approvals.
Singh said he remains on the side of Canadians who believe in a sustainable future but “never forget that we need to take care of workers.”
Singh, whose party is meeting in Ottawa this weekend for its national convention, also addressed recent harassment allegations against current NDP MP Erin Weir (now suspended from his duties) and former NDP MP Peter Stoffer.
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Stoffer has denied any wrongdoing, and Weir has said he wasn’t even given a chance to respond to the claims before the NDP took action.
“I think that fairness is really important,” Singh said in response.
“And this is a difficult time because we have an opportunity to grow … I owed it to my staff to take a step when there was an allegation that was raised. But it has to be a fair process.”
He added that difficult decisions are “a part of the journey.”
Watch the full interview with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh above.