April 12, 2018 3:59 pm
Updated: April 12, 2018 4:31 pm

‘A crisis of confidence’: B.C. businesses want Trudeau to stand firm on Kinder Morgan pipeline

B.C. supporters of the Trans Mountain pipeline are joining forces today, demanding work resume on the expansion. Jordan Armstrong reports from downtown Vancouver where the business and community groups are speaking out.

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More than 70 business, industry and community groups have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking for the uncertainty around the Trans Mountain pipeline to end.

Groups like the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of British Columbia say business confidence is being shaken because of rising tensions on either side of the Rocky Mountains.

“We’re here today because the organizations and individuals in communities and businesses across this country believe we are at a point or crisis of confidence in Canada. A crisis that needs leadership and immediate attention to resolve,” says Greg D’Avignon, the president and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia.

WATCH:  At a press conference Thursday, members of the B.C. business community call on the government to end the uncertainty surrounding the Kinder Morgan pipeline.


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“Over the last 48 hours, we have experienced an unprecedented flood of concern and countrywide activism born by the continued actions of the province of B.C. with regard to the recent announcement to suspend all non-essential spending on the federally and provincially-approved Trans Mountain pipeline project. This is no longer about a pipeline, but a referendum to see if you can rely on government process, regulations and the rule of law with any degree of confidence if you choose to invest, create jobs and prosperity in British Columbia and our country.”

“This can have lasting consequences to our reputation and for our country if not resolved.”

READ MORE: ‘Major pipeline projects can be done safely’: Justin Trudeau tweets video in support

D’Avignon says some will say this issue is an economy versus the environment debate or as businesses opposing activist governments but he says both are wrong.

“This is about leadership in the face of difficult circumstances but clear choices. It’s about stability, our faith in democracy, the rule of law and confidence in our country.”

He adds the leaders need to act to restore B.C.’s reputation as a welcoming place to do business.

“The stakes are high right now.”

President and CEO Val Litwin says this has ramifications beyond the oil sector.

“We just heard from the clean tech industry here this morning. There are a lot of businesses and organizations out there in B.C. and across Canada that are worried that climate agenda will be challenged with this,” he says. “So we understand that we have to move forward. Again, the federal government has said yes and we have to honour that commitment.”

Tensions between Alberta and B.C. have escalated dramatically over the last several weeks following a decision this past weekend by Kinder Morgan to suspend all non-essential spending on its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Kinder Morgan also issued a deadline of May 31 for the government to provide a clear guarantee that it will be able to ultimately complete the project once it ramps up the next phase of investment and construction.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: the Kinder Morgan pipeline row is about to get real

Trudeau has always pledged support for the pipeline and is flying back to Canada from Peru this weekend for a joint meeting with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan over the dispute.

Trudeau is set to put pressure on British Columbia’s provincial government to drop its resistance to the pipeline project, but will try to avoid tougher measures that might alienate voters who helped his Liberals win power, a source close to the matter said on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Escalating Kinder Morgan dispute prompts Trudeau to call joint meeting with Notley, Horgan

“In the coming years, if this corrosive, self-interested behaviour we are witnessing persist, the confidence in our reputation in the world as a place to live, work and invest will be gone,” says D’Avignon.

He adds they want to see the federal government “use every tool necessary,” including the expansion of the $1.5-billion Ocean Protection Plan to provide the “leadership necessary to establish our confidence in Canada.”

Premiers John Horgan and Rachel Notley also received the letter.

Both will meet with the prime minister on Sunday.

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