Vaughn Palmer: NDP’s diluted promises likely to test public’s patience

VICTORIA — Not until the last few paragraphs of the throne speech did the NDP government get around to mentioning its intentions regarding the increased transport of Alberta heavy oil through this province.

“The government is considering new protections that would improve our ability to prepare for, and respond to bitumen spills. Government will consult with industry, local government, the public and First Nations on the path forward.”

Considering. Consult with. No mention of the tacit threat at the end of the Jan. 30 news release where Environment Minister George Heyman set out his more detailed intentions on this file.

“The province will create an independent scientific advisory panel to help addressed the scientific uncertainties,” it read in part. “In order to protect B.C.’s environmental and economic interests while the advisory panel is proceeding, the province is proposing regulatory restrictions to be placed on the increase of diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) transportation.”

It was that passage, with its clear statement of B.C.’s intentions to regulate increased transport of Alberta oil while a scientific advisory panel does its work, that triggered the trade war with Alberta.

So what did it mean that B.C. was dropping the threat in outlining its legislative agenda for the year?

“It is our intention to lower the temperature so that we can have a more reasonable discussion,” explained Premier John Horgan during the media conference following the throne speech.

For the rest, he said it was still the government’s intention to consult British Columbians.

But in the interim, while the consultations proceed, would he be temporarily seeking to restrict the movement of bitumen through the province?

“No,” he replied. “It’s never been my intention.” Meaning not during the consultations.

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Source:: Vancouver Sun

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