The western Canadian province of British Columbia (B.C.), once a bastien of free enterprise and resource development could soon be home to an environmentally-extreme government. When the government Liberals failed to secure a majority in the recent election, the second-place quasi-socialist New Democratic Party (NDP) and third-place Green Party began negotiating to join forces.
On Monday, the leaders of both parities announced that they found enough common ground to form a coalition government. On Tuesday, the negotiators expect to release the details of the temporary political merger. Although Premier Christy Clark is still the premier of the province, the pressure for her to step aside could become overwhelming.
That means that three Green Party Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) will hold the balance of power as they pursue an agenda that is largely opposed to most oil exploration and the pipelines needed to move that oil to refineries.
Green Party leader Andrew Weaver told reporters on Monday that the deal will have a calming affect on a province that is deeply divided over environmental policy.
“The reason we are standing here today instead of waiting for a throne speech to be put forward is precisely to give British Columbians certainty,” Green Leader Andrew Weaver told reporters.
The government could become the most environmentally extreme jurisdiction in North America and make the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appear moderate by comparison.
Both Weaver and NDP Leader John Horgan are against the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline that runs from Vancouver to Edmonton, Alberta. The potential coalition comes just as the company was prepared to invite the public t invest in the $7.4 billion project by purchasing shares.
Despite Trudeau’s fierce defense of the Paris climate accord and insistence that the war on climate change supersedes the real battle with ISIS, he approved both the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Keystone XL project — angering his environmental base, who are many of the same people who voted for the NDP and Greens in the B.C. election.
“The decision we took on the Trans Mountain pipeline was based on facts [and] evidence, on what is in the best interest of Canadians,” Trudeau said Tuesday from Rome, as he co-hosted a media conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
“Regardless of a change in government, in British Columbia or anywhere, the facts and evidence do not change,” Trudeau said.
“We understand that growing a strong economy for the future requires taking leadership on the environment. We have to do those two things together,” he said. “That is what drives us in the choices we make, and we stand by those choices.”
He will be in for a fight now — as will the entire energy sector in B.C.
The Greens could demand an increase in the carbon tax that B.C. motorists already pay at the pump, further restrictions on fossil fuel exploration and an insistence on “green energy” like solar power and windmills that, on average, provide less than one percent of a province’s energy needs.