In the battle over Canadian resource projects, there is no riding that looms larger than Burnaby North-Seymour.
The riding lies on both sides of Metro Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, with the Trans Mountain pipeline’s terminus on the inlet’s Burnaby side.
It’s also a battleground riding.
In the 2015 election, Liberal Terry Beech finished with 36 per cent of the vote, only about 3,000 votes ahead of the NDP candidate and about 4,000 votes ahead of the third-place Conservative candidate.
So, where do the Burnaby North-Seymour candidates in the upcoming federal election stand on the project?
Green Party candidate Amita Kuttner opposes the project, describing it as “absurd.”
“It makes no sense that this project is being pushed forward,” she told Global News. “There are so many things that are honestly abjectly terrifying about it.”
Kuttner said her opposition was driven by concerns of safety and spills at Trans Mountain’s Burnaby tank farm impacting B.C.’s marine environment and also cited First Nations opposition to the pipeline project.
The NDP’s Svend Robinson, who has predicated his political return on environmental issues, is likewise looking for local opposition to the project to help propel him to victory.
Robinson told Global News he’s been hearing a sense of “betrayal” from voters as he campaigns.
“People are really angry. The Liberal government … promised that unless the community agreed, unless Indigenous people agreed, this project would not go ahead,” Robinson said.
“The Tsleil-Waututh, the Squamish are leading the fight in the Federal Court of Appeal. They’re located in this constituency. People in this constituency on both sides of the water, on the North Shore and in Burnaby, are feeling burned and betrayed. We don’t want this project. It’s dangerous for the community. It doesn’t meet our greenhouse gas commitments.”
As for the incumbent Liberal candidate, Beech declined to give a straight yes or no answer to whether he would support the project if re-elected.
Beech has previously expressed his own reservation about the project and produced his own report on the issue, which he presented to the ministerial panel convened by the Trudeau government to re-review the pipeline expansion ahead of its approval in 2016.
However, since the project was approved, Beech has been consistent in his backing of the government.
“If you want to know how I stand on Trans Mountain, you should go to my website … and read my report,” Beech told Global News this weekend.
“Its a very complex issue, and anyone that’s trying to get a simple yes or no answer is not doing this particular issue service.”
Conservative Party of Canada candidate Heather Leung did not respond to Global News’ request for comment or answer the door at her constituency office.
However, the CPC has been clear in its support of the pipeline and has proposed going further to repeal a tanker ban on B.C.’s north coast and the Liberals’ reform of the country’s pipeline approval process.
Global News has also requested comment from People’s Party of Canada candidate Rocky Dong.
Voters go to the polls on Oct. 21.
— With files from Paul Johnson