VANCOUVER — Justin Trudeau has renewed his party’s opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline, pledged support for the Keystone XL project, but is withholding judgment on a third, controversial pipe to ship oil through Eastern Canada.
Trudeau said that a Liberal government would formalize a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic through B.C.’s northern coast to protect sensitive areas from the impacts of a spill.
That effectively rules out the Northern Gateway pipeline, a project meant to deliver Alberta oilsands crude to the B.C. coast, where it would be loaded on board tankers.
“Anyone who has been to the Great Bear rainforest knows that that’s not a place for a crude oil pipeline,” Trudeau said, referring to the sensitive ecological areas along the northern B.C. coast.
The Liberal leader said that as a resource nation, Canada has always needed to get products such as grain, lumber, minerals and oil to market.
“But in the 21st century, it means doing it right,” Trudeau said during a campaign stop here.
“We know as an alternative to pipelines, we’ve seen oil by rail spike over the last few years with, in some cases, disastrous and even deadly consequences,” he said.
“We need to ensure we are getting our resources to market in responsible, safe ways,” Trudeau said.
There are several pipeline proposals on the books to move Alberta oil to global markets.
Trudeau said the Liberals have been supportive of the Keystone XL pipeline. This project would carry oil from Alberta to refineries on the U.S. gulf coast. However, approval for the pipeline is tied up in the U.S. administration.
Energy East is a 4,600-kilometre pipeline to ship 1.1 million barrels of oil a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries and port terminals in Eastern Canada.
During a campaign stop in Fredericton this week, Trudeau was met by protesters who called on him to oppose the project. But asked about his stance on Energy East on Thursday, Trudeau would only say, “we have a process to go through.”
He said government needs to establish a “responsible” process that allows communities to be heard and citizens “reassured” that the science, oversight and regulation of pipeline projects is robust.
Trudeau reiterated his party’s opposition to Northern Gateway as part of a broader campaign announcement on measures to protect Canada’s ocean environment.
As part of the announcement, the Liberals say they would increase the amount of protected marine and coastal areas to 5 per cent by 2017 and 10 per cent by 2020, up from 1.3 per cent now.
Trudeau said his party would also reinstate the $40-million cut from the government’s ocean science and monitoring programs and restore scientific capabilities within the department of fisheries and oceans.
Trudeau said that despite almost a decade in power, Harper’s Conservatives have failed to deliver a “sensible, credible approach to the environment and the economy.”
“We cannot afford to let this inaction continue. The cost is too high,” said Trudeau, who made the announcement on a beach in North Vancouver, on the scenic shores of English Bay.