Vancouver, B.C. – Today British Columbians called on B.C. Premier Christy Clark to reveal her position on increased tanker traffic off B.C.’s coast at tonight’s televised debate.

Both the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipeline proposals would lead to dramatic increases in oil tanker traffic off of B.C.’s north and south coasts.

“B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix, B.C. Green Party leader Jane Sterk and B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins have all made clear where they stand on increased oil tanker traffic. Tonight is Clark’s last chance to reveal her position in front of all British Columbians,” said Eric Swanson, Campaign Director for Dogwood Initiative.

“Clark’s five conditions avoid the real decision,” Swanson added. “The basic question here is obvious: does British Columbia fundamentally want to entertain the risk of heavy oil spills from dramatic expansions in tanker traffic, or not? By now, Clark has all the information she needs to provide British Columbians her answer.”

Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation said: “Clearly Premier Clark’s five conditions have already not been met given the First Nations rejection of these dangerous pipeline projects and associated tanker traffic. It’s time for her to come clean and tell us all where she stands.”

“Voters need to know where each leader stands on this important issue,” said George Hoberg, a political scientist and professor in the Faculty of Forestry at UBC. “Standing up against new oilsands pipelines and tankers would protect our salmon rivers and coast from increased risk of oil spills and would show B.C. is serious about fighting climate change. The carbon pollution from Kinder Morgan’s proposal alone would be one and a half times what B.C. currently produces.”


Eric Swanson

George Hoberg

Chief Ian Campbell


In party platform materials and in public statements B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix and B.C. Green Party leader Jane Sterk have stated they don’t support a dramatic expansion in oil tanker traffic, such as that proposed by Enbridge and Kinder Morgan. B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins has clearly stated he is in favour of these proposals. B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark is the only party leader not to take a clear position on the proposals.

Before the writ dropped senior government staff presented Clark with options for the B.C. government’s final submission at the final regulatory hearings, which take place days after the election. Clark failed to provide staff any direction on what p osition to take, effectively ignoring the most pressing environmental and economic decision facing her government in the lead up to the election.

Governments often decide against categories of industrial activities that present socially intolerable risks in advance of full technical reviews. This provides certainty for both proponents and the public. For example, previous B.C. governments of all political parties have announced clear policy against nuclear power, uranium mining and coastal drilling.

Rather than making a decision, the B.C. Liberal government under Gordon Campbell signed an “equivalency agreement” with Ottawa giving the federal government’s regulatory review the power to stand in for a B.C. review. Federal cabinet has final authority under this mechanism. Under Christy Clark, the B.C. government continued to avoid taking a firm position one way or the other, instead announcing five conditions upon which to further consider propo sals to move more heavy oil the B.C.’s coast. The condition that received the most attention was the last one, which suggested B.C. might accept these projects if it could negotiate further financial benefit.