NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks as a woman holds a novelty cheque made out to Kinder Morgan at a rally against the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline project, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks as a woman holds a novelty cheque made out to Kinder Morgan at a rally against the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline project, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Singh sides with B.C. in hornet’s nest of pipeline politics for the NDP

Singh had called for a more thorough environmental review process on the proposal

Jagmeet Singh planted the federal NDP flag firmly on British Columbia’s side of the Trans Mountain dispute Wednesday after months of trying to stay neutral in the bitter feud between his Alberta and B.C. counterparts over energy and environmental policy.

In fact Singh said he hasn’t even had a conversation with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in months — not since Notley called him and his position on the pipeline “irrelevant” last fall, nor since Notley’s description of him last week as “absolutely, fundamentally, incontrovertibly wrong.”

“We’ve not have a chance to speak yet,” Singh told a news conference after his weekly caucus meeting.

Until recently, Singh had called for a more thorough environmental review process on the proposal to twin an existing pipeline that runs between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C. He now says he is 100 per cent opposed, since Ottawa wants to put money on the table to cover any cost overruns caused by political interference — largely from a court challenge by the NDP government in B.C.

“This was a very difficult decision for me,” Singh said. “It wasn’t something I took lightly but leaders have to make tough decisions.”

PHOTOS: Rival protests highlight B.C.’s divide over pipeline project

READ MORE: B.C. sues Alberta over bill that could ‘turn oil taps off’

The NDP’s positioning on the pipeline is a political hornet’s nest. B.C. Premier John Horgan campaigned on a promise to oppose the pipeline and his minority government depends on the support of the B.C. Green party, which requires Horgan to continue to oppose it with “every tool available.”

As the premier of a province where the energy industry accounts for about one-quarter of GDP and one-tenth of the jobs, Rachel Notley’s political survival hinges on the pipeline being built.

Federally, the NDP have but one seat in Alberta compared with 14 in B.C. But Singh’s own designs on a House of Commons seat could also be in play: MP Kennedy Stewart is vacating his Burnaby seat later this summer, creating a tantalizing opportunity for a leader who desperately needs to make his presence felt in the House.

Stewart himself told The Canadian Press this week Burnaby is the NDP’s stomping ground, noting all four provincial seats and the entirety of the city council are NDP members. Singh would ”have a very good chance of winning here” were a byelection to be held, Stewart said.

He also said after the high cost of housing, the pipeline is the biggest concern in the riding.

Singh denied the suggestion that the byelection had anything to do with his position on the pipeline. He said he hasn’t even decided whether to run there, noting only that he won’t make a decision before discussing it with his team and taking their advice.

His position really changed, he said, because the Liberals now want to force Canadians to shoulder not only the environmental risk, but now the financial risk, of the pipeline “to benefit private shareholders of a corporation in Texas.”

The Liberal government’s financial commitment to Trans Mountain is just another subsidy for the fossil fuel industry, something Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to do away with, said Singh, who urged the government to spend its $1.3 billion in grants and tax credits on clean tech instead.

Singh did not take aim at Notley himself Wednesday, instead choosing to praise her for doing what she promised to do to stand up for the people of Alberta. He even called her carbon tax plan the “best climate change plan in the country.”

“If we want to attain our climate change goals, we need a premier like Premier Notley,” he said.

Notley, however, was less gracious.

“The private shareholders that he’s describing happen to be part of a company that will contribute about, I don’t know, roughly $15 billion to the Canadian economy and will contribute to and support over a quarter million jobs in the country of Canada,” she said on CBC’s “Power and Politics.”

“It is a ridiculously naive statement.”

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Visitors to a pop-up temporary aquarium in Prince Rupert will have the chance to see marine ecology from July 21 to Aug. 15, like this viewer watching sea anemones at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert pop-up aquarium will bring sea level to eye level in July

A permanent peak to reef ecology centre is in the planning stages by North Coast Ecology Society

Prince Rupert’s Ellen Wright and Graeme Dickens jam out during filming the two Ring System Studio concerts to be broadcast on television during June. (Photo: supplied, H. Cox)
Ring System Studio sounds on television

Two concerts by the Prince Rupert music school will be broadcast in June

Commerical marijuana grow ops that are budding up in Prince Rupert’s downtown core are legal and out of the city’s jurisdiction, Mayor Lee Brain said, on June 14. (Photo:supplied/K-J Millar)
Prince Rupert downtown’s pretty dope

Marijuana operations grow in the Prince Rupert city core

Unionized longshore and port workers gather along Highway 16 on June 15 not crossing the picket line where Prince Rupert Solidarity Movement group protests the docking and unloading of the JPO Volans, a ship with Israeli designed technology and equipment. (Photo: K-J Millar/the Northern View)
Prince Rupert Solidarity Group pickets at port in protest

Demonstrations against the container ship JPO Volans lead into the second day to dissuade docking

BC Ferries has announced the welcoming back onboard of recreational travellers on June 15 after the provincial travel restrictions were lifted. (Courtesy of BC Ferries)
BC Ferries welcomes back recreational passengers

The ferries corp will relax mask-wearing in outdoor spaces

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read