In-depth: the B.C. Liberals position on oil tankers on B.C.’s coast

There have been so many twists and turns in the B.C. Liberals position on oil tanker and pipeline proposals that it would be understandable if some people have lost track. Truth is, for all the huffing and puffing, not a whole lot has changed: the B.C. Liberals are the only party that hasn’t taken a position one way or the other.

For starters, the B.C. Liberals signed away B.C.’s power to conduct its own environmental assessments to the federal government. Then they tried deflecting questions to the federal review and by emphasizing the role of science in assessing the project.

Around the time Enbridge was called out for gross incompetence in handling their oil spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the B.C. Liberals announced a series of conditions upon which to base further consideration of heavy oil proposals by Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and others.

Next, Premier Christy Clark instigated a public conflict with Alberta Premier Alison Redford in what was widely interpreted as an attempt to look tough without actually making a decision.

In the fall of 2012, the B.C. Liberal government sent representatives to the Enbridge Joint Review Panel hearings and asked some good, tough questions of the company. Afterward, Environment Minister Terry Lake was critical of Enbridge’s response and went so far as to state that Enbridge was not meeting the government’s conditions. Simultaneously, the government launched a process to come up with a better land-based oil spill response regime.

However, with the final phase of the Enbridge hearings coming to a close just after the election, including final arguments made by the B.C. government, Clark still has not announced a clear stance on either major project. In March, she also stated support for David Black’s refinery proposal for Kitimat. The B.C. Liberals could be avoiding taking a position because they fear if they oppose these projects, they risk upsetting certain factions of conservative voters, the Prime Minister and the federal Conservative Party (whose staffers and organizing muscle may be important to the B.C. Liberals), as well as certain business interests, which perennially finance the party.

If they take a position in favour of these oil tanker plans, they would risk alienating a majority of B.C. voters. So it seems, instead of making a decision, they’ve decided to waffle on the second most important issue for most voters heading into this May’s election.

You can read the B.C. Liberals’ position straight from the horse’s mouth in their platform.

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