My statement to the Members of the Ministerial Panel on the Proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

August 23, 2016

Members of the Ministerial Panel on the Proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion:

My name is Murray Rankin. I am the Member of Parliament for Victoria. Welcome to my constituency.

I understand that we are permitted only 3 to 5 minutes to express our views -- you know it is difficult for any politician to be brief but I will do my best.  

The people I represent resolutely oppose this project. The impact of 34 additional tankers each month off Victoria's coast, the impact on global climate change of millions of barrels of diluted bitumen, and the acknowledged impact upon the southern resident orca whale population are just three reasons for the virtually unanimous opposition that I hear over and over from the community I represent in the Parliament of Canada. 

 

The project would mean going from perhaps 5 tankers a month moving past Victoria to some 35 ships per month. That’s perhaps 360 more departures a year.  And these ships would be carrying a product, diluted bitumen, the characteristics of which are uncertain.  What is certain is the devastation that a spill would cause.  Quite simply, it is lunacy to even contemplate playing Russian roulette with our precious coastline. Risking millions of litres of diluted bitumen spilling in the Salish Sea is just not acceptable  Any sensible risk-benefit analysis could not possibly allow this to happen.

 

The NDP has been very critical of the assignment that you three have agreed to accept  My criticism is certainly not personal in nature: I know two of you personally and know you to be fine and thoughtful individuals. But  both my community and my party will continue to call for Mr.Trudeau to respect his unequivocal promise that this government would re-do the Kinder Morgan process -- not just be content with the add-on process that you are a part of. 

I know you have heard countless people express concerns that the prior NEB review process  chose not to hear input from hundreds of would-be intervenors or to allow oral cross-examination of expert testimony. You've heard that the process fell short in considering marine implications. You've heard that it did not consider pipeline-related impacts on climate change. You also heard that the NEB did not adequately demonstrate its respect for First Nations' rights and title, or to reconcile their legitimate interests. You can't remedy those breaches of fundamental justice with an "add-on" like the process that you are part of. If key evidence was not vigorously challenged at the NEB hearing, how can we be confident that the Panel's recommendations are sound? Our position remains that no pipeline approvals can be granted: there must be a thorough, transparent review process along with a credible plan that will allow Canada to reduce our GHG's in compliance with our international obligations.

Some of my constituents advised me not to attend today, fearing that to participate in this flawed process would only lend it undeserved credibility. In the absence of the renewed process that was promised by Mr. Trudeau, they argued there is no point in me speaking at all. But in the absence of a credible process, in the absence of the renewed process that was promised, I concluded that I still had to speak during this process, because it is the only process available to us. My constituents deserve to be represented here, despite the failings of the process.

 

And on their behalf, I must reiterate that the people of Victoria are utterly opposed to  the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion and the resulting expansion of tanker traffic. I say to you what Mayor Gregor Robertson submitted on behalf of his community, and what Mayor Helps submitted on behalf of Victoria -- the pipeline and the massive increase in tanker traffic are too risky for our city, our region and our country.

Yesterday, you heard the same from local First Nations. You may not be aware that one part of my riding is an Indian reserve, namely the Songhees Nation reserve on Chatham and Discovery Islands off the coast of Oak Bay. Yesterday I met with Chief Ron Sam and he confirmed to me that his people are also firmly opposed to this project.

The National Energy board concluded that the southern resident orca whale population was already seriously impacted by industrial expansion, and that it already faced increased marine traffic in the Salish Sea. Even without the 720 additional oil tanker movements ( 360 arrivals plus 360 departures a year), the whales are threatened. The panel itself acknowledged that the evidence revealed that the additional impacts of the project would be harmful to them.

Secondly, the Panel called for the attendant greenhouse gas emissions to be offset and for the proponent to come up with a specific plan after the construction phase. Last fall at the Paris climate-change conference, the new Liberal government committed our country to a more ambitious program to reduce national (and global) emissions to a level that might limit the world’s temperature increase to 1.5 C. Just how can this project be reconciled with the commitment we made to the world in Paris?

The NEB Panel said there would be increased job creation and that tax revenues for the government. It was called upon to weigh these benefits against the residual costs and risks. It is for the federal cabinet to determine whether this project is in the national interest and whether to order that a certificate of public convenience and necessity be issued to enable this project to proceed.

I fail to understand how any risk-benefit equation could lead to any conclusion but that the Transmountain Expansion be rejected. 

On behalf of Victoria, I call on this ministerial panel to convey the views of my constituency to Ottawa. You can be sure that I will be doing the same as soon as Parliament reconvenes. We do not think that NEB review was procedurally fair, so we're deeply suspicious of the approval by the panel appointed by Mr. Harper's government. It is frankly shocking to us that the Liberal government would simply make you an add-on to that deeply flawed process and expect us to accept the process. You can't just put fresh a coat of red paint on a dilapidated boat and say that it is seaworthy. That boat will still sink. And this project is sunk.

Prime Minister Trudeau talks of the need for projects to have "social license": whatever that means, I assure you that at least in this part of the world, the Kinder Morgan project does not have that social license. 

Thank you for your attention.