SURREY, B.C. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’ll work with British Columbia and Alberta to move ahead with his government’s agenda of creating jobs while moving toward a lower-carbon economy.
Trudeau was asked on Friday about the possibility that B.C. could wind up with a government that opposes the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. He suggested that the province’s NDP and Greens, who oppose the project, are “wrong” in their position.
“Canadians understand that we need to both protect the environment and build a better economy at the same time. Anyone proposing a false choice around that is wrong,” he said at an event in Surrey.
The final count from the recent provincial election, including absentee ballots, will be completed next week and the Greens are poised to hold the balance of power if a minority government is confirmed.
After general and advance votes were tallied May 9, the pro-pipeline Liberals held 43 seats, short of the 44 needed for a majority, while the NDP won 41 seats and the Greens took three. But there are a handful of ridings that were decided by fewer than 300 votes and there are 176,000 absentee ballots still to be counted.
NDP Leader John Horgan has vowed to use “every tool in the toolbox” to stop the project, but he hasn’t been specific about what those tools are.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said that no province has the power to stop Kinder Morgan Canada’s expansion of the pipeline that runs from the Edmonton area to Burnaby and which her government staunchly supports.
Trudeau did not directly answer a question about whether her statement was true, but he said he has a very positive relationship with the provinces and will work constructively with them.
The federal government approved the expansion late last year.
Alberta has obtained intervener status in court challenges of the project filed by municipalities and First Nations in southwest B.C.
Political scientist Richard Johnston of the University of British Columbia has said interprovincial pipelines fall under federal jurisdiction, so there is little that B.C. could do to stop the project.
Trudeau was at a Surrey recreation centre to promote his government’s Canada Child Benefit. He met with parents and played with a large rainbow parachute with a group of rambunctious children.
He then met with supporters inside a Filipino restaurant in Surrey before visiting Abbotsford’s Gur Sikh Temple, which was founded in 1912.
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Laura Kane, The Canadian Press