Small business, forestry, mining and other business leaders spoke in Vancouver Thursday to urge the federal government to save the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
The group is laying out a strategy to mobilize public support for the project, concerned about Canada’s reputation as a safe place to invest.
Participants include Greg D’Avignon, president of the B.C. Business Council, Susan Yurkovich, president of the Council of Forest Industries, Bryan Cox, president of the Mining association of B.C., Laura Jones, vice president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and Tim McMillan, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
D’Avignon said there has been a wave of concern since Kinder Morgan Canada announced Sunday it was suspending non-essential spending on twinning the Trans Mountain pipeline, which has carried crude oil and refined fuels to the B.C. coast and Washington state since the 1950s.
He said the discussion is more than an argument about the environment versus the economy, as “corrosive and self-serving behaviour” by the B.C. government threatens the national economy.
“It is a moment in time that the global and local business investors are watching,” D’Avignon said. “It’s about stability, faith in democracy, the rule of law and confidence in our country.”
The event comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has arranged a meeting in Ottawa Sunday with B.C. Premier John Horgan and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. Trudeau and federal ministers have repeatedly said B.C. has no grounds to continue opposition to the project, a fact confirmed in the B.C. legislature this week by Environment Minister George Heyman.
Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun represents the municipality with the longest section of the pipeline running through it. He said the protests against the project are not the path to a better regulatory system in Canada.
Yurkovich said the forest industry represents one in 17 B.C. jobs, in an industry that depends on investor certainty to develop technology and international trade.
“We believe the impasse over the Trans Mountain project has shaken this faith,” Yurkovich said.
“What Premier Horgan is effectively doing is ripping up a contract,” said Chris Gardner, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association. “The energy sector in this country is on its knees.”
After the cancellation of the Northern Gateway and Energy East pipeline projects, Gardner noted that the CEO of the Royal Bank has warned that investment is fleeing Canada.