A former British Columbia premier who bowed to global protests over clearcutting on Vancouver Island’s west coast is advising Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to find a “Plan B” for the last few kilometres of Kinder Morgan’s $6.8-billion Trans Mountain pipeline proposal, or face the same scale of resistance.
“I’d tell him that without looking at the alternative, he could be facing a Clayoquot or North Dakota type of insurrection,” Mike Harcourt, who led B.C. from 1991 to 1996, said in an interview reported in the Vancouver Sun. “People are that hot about it, and I think it’s widespread,”
Harcourt didn’t recommend that Trudeau overturn the National Energy Board’s hotly-contested approval of U.S.-owned Kinder Morgan’s plan to triple the capacity of its existing diluted bitumen pipeline from near Edmonton to just outside Vancouver, to nearly 900,000 barrels a day. According to the Sun, the former premier “accepts the arguments of the oil industry and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley that there’s an economic need to get diluted bitumen to the West Coast,” and “also noted that First Nations along the route through Alberta and B.C. all the way to the edge of the Lower Mainland largely support the project.”
However, he urged Trudeau to consider rerouting the last leg of the pipeline so that it no longer ends at a terminal at the extreme inner end of Vancouver’s narrow, congested harbour. Harcourt recommended the last few miles be shifted to “avoid the jurisdictions of key opponents like Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, and the Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish First Nations,” and terminate instead either at Deltaport, a man-made peninsula south of Vancouver that already houses a ferry terminal and a coal-loading facility, “or just across the B.C.-Washington state border [at] the Cherry Point Refinery.”
Harcourt was a largely pro-environment premier who nonetheless faced what has been described as “the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history,” in opposition to private sector plans to clearcut old growth rainforest surrounding Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island.
“The five-month protest led to the conviction of 859 activists,” the Sun recalled, “and included interventions from international figures like future U.S. presidential candidate and later Secretary of State John Kerry.” Harcourt’s government eventually ordered changes in logging practices and joined an agreement protecting large areas of old growth forest.