ELECTION 2015: Fleshing out implications of pipeline expansion

Candidates were asked if they were in favour of the KM pipeline expansion, and what they would do as MP to protect Chilliwack

Where the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline crosses the Vedder River.

Where the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline crosses the Vedder River.

The topic of Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline expansion has been a hot topic in Chilliwack-Hope for months, especially since the proposed route passes through Chilliwack, and that raises concern about potential contamination the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer.

The Progress continues its ELECTION 2015 series, zeroing in on questions that matter to local voters.

All five candidates were asked if they were in favour of the pipeline expansion, and what they would do as MP to ensure that Chilliwack is protected from a major spill.

Here is the full text of their answers:


Green Party candidate Thomas Cheney:

I am greatly concerned about the shipment of diluted bitumen or dilbit by pipeline through our community. Unlike the conventional crude and other light hydrocarbons that have been shipped on the Transmountain pipeline for decades, diluted bitumen poses unique risks for both human health and the environment. When diluted bitumen spills, it releases toxic gases threatening human health, a fact known all too well by residents of the Kalmazoo, Michigan where Enbridge has left a toxic mess in their local river.

In terms of health, a study by the Sierra club found that a dilbit spill in Burrard Inlet would create an acute health risk for hundreds of thousands people. Because of the expansion of the oil sands and Kinder-Morgan’s emphasis on bitumen exports, local refineries now have to ship oil by rail, creating the risk of a Lac-Megantic type incident in our community. If I were MP, I would oppose the expansion of the Kinder-Morgan Transmountain Pipeline to protect our community and coastline from spills.  While the NDP and Liberals have called for the responsible development of bitumen, the simple fact of the matter is that 85% of the oil sands need to be left in the ground to prevent severe climate change. We need to begin the exciting work of moving from a polluting, unstable fossil fuel-based economy to a clean, prosperous renewable energy future.


Liberal candidate Louis De Jaeger:

Canadians should not have to choose between a strong economy and a healthy environment. Canadians deserve both and it is the government’s responsibility to deliver prosperity with a shrinking environmental footprint.

The economic benefits generated by Canada’s energy sector are not in question. However, we need an environmental review process that is objective and fair to all; it must be credible, scientific, and achievable. Pipeline companies such as Kinder Morgan must understand and respect the fact that they need a social license from all aspects of the communities that are impacted by their work and this must include all First Nations.

The National Energy Board is no longer viewed as the gate keeper meant to protect our environment from unfettered energy development. Their independence has been compromised by the Harper government; a Liberal government will restore the NEB’s credibility and regain public confidence.  A Liberal government will develop a long-term strategy that will sustain economic growth while respecting the environment.

Governments may grant permits but only communities can grant permission.


Conservative candidate Mark Strahl:

As someone who was born, raised and is raising a family here, I understand the concerns regarding new pipelines in our community. We all want to see our precious water, air and land resources protected. Our Conservative government will continue to protect the environment and our economy, including the tens of thousands of family supporting jobs in our natural resource sector across the country and in our community.Through our Responsible Resource Development plan, our Conservative government is ensuring that we have the best standards for pipeline and marine tanker safety in the world.We have increased the number of independent annual pipeline inspections by 50 per cent; and have doubled the number of comprehensive pipeline safety audits in order to identify issues before they occur. We have also changed the law so that polluting companies – not taxpayers – are 100 per cent responsible for all cleanup costs in the unlikely event of an incident. As MP, I have always stated that the proposed TransMountain pipeline expansion must be subjected to a rigorous, scientific review by the independent National Energy Board, and should only proceed if it can be shown to be safe for the people of our community, and safe for our environment.


Libertarian Party candidate Alexander Johnson:

The Libertarian Party believes in people’s right to their property, above and below the soil. We would make environmental issues able to go through the judicial system in the event someone or a group of people damages another person’s property. We would not protect corporations or take private land for public interest.

However, this is a Provincial and Municipal issue and the Federal Government should not be involved in making this decision. I will always maintain that the city or town and Province are better able to make an educated decision than a small group of Politicians in Ottawa.


NDP Candidate Seonaigh MacPherson:

I believe a strong economy and a healthy environment must go hand in hand. We must use our natural resources and bring Canadian goods to world markets in a way that protects our land, water and air while earning the support of affected communities and First Nations.

After a decade of Stephen Harper gutting our environmental assessment process, the current Kinder Morgan pipeline application cannot proceed. Any confidence Canadians had left in environmental assessments under the Conservatives was destroyed when Stephen Harper appointed a former Kinder Morgan consultant to the National Energy Board.

The proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline passes under my own neighbourhood, a local elementary school, and the Vedder River. Leaks could contaminate aquifers that provide our local drinking and agriculture water. As I knock on doors in Chilliwack, I hear people’s concerns and I share them. For this reason, the first event we organized as a campaign was a townhall on “Protecting our Waterways,” which we held at the Sto:lo Centre and co-hosted with Pipe-Up Network.

Tom Mulcair and the NDP will deliver a vigorous environmental assessment process that is based on science that provides for meaningful participation from local communities and earns the support of First Nations.