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Kinder Morgan pipeline & LNG industry pivotal issues as Greens hold balance of power in B.C.

Environmental activist David Suzuki endorsed the B.C. Green Party during this provincial election. Andrew Weaver, the former climate scientist who leads the Green Party, could be instrumental in determining the next provincial government.

The outcome of last night’s election in British Columbia is uncertain. The final results may not be finalized until May 24. Two likely scenarios though include an NDP-Green coalition government or a Liberal minority government backed by the Greens. In either situation, the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline and the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector face new challenges.

The headlines tell the story of uncertainty:

Vancouver Sun – Christy Clark to try to govern with minority

CTV – Greens hold power balance in minority

CBC – B.C. Liberals hang on to win minority government

The Globe and Mail – BC Liberals cut to minority with Greens holding balance of power

The Canadian Press reports, “Christy Clark’s Liberals won 43 seats, the NDP under John Horgan got 41 and the Greens led by Andrew Weaver achieved a major breakthrough by picking up three seats. The NDP won one riding [Courtenay-Comox] by only nine votes, making a recount a certainty that will determine the difference between a minority and an ultra-thin majority if it were to flip to the Liberals.”

The Vancouver Sun adds, “Many of the ridings could face shifting outcomes as absentee ballots, and advanced ballots cast outside a person’s riding, are counted during Elections B.C.’s final count process, which begins May 22 and runs to May 24.”

With respect to the popular vote, the Liberals were at 40.84 per cent, the NDP at 39.86, and the Green Party at 16.75 per cent.

Prior to last night’s election (and the addition of two new seats to the Legislature), the seat count was Liberals 47 seats (meaning they are now down 4 seats), NDP 35 seats (they gained 6 seats), and 3 Independents, including Green party leader Weaver (meaning the Greens gained 2 seats).

CBC explains there are at least two different scenarios that could emerge in a minority government situation: “The first … involves one party fully in control of cabinet and the executive branch of government, but regularly negotiating with other parties in order to get enough votes to pass legislation. The second approach is a coalition government where a formal agreement is made between multiple parties, usually involving the sharing of cabinet posts, along with guarantees on certain pieces of legislation and how decisions will be made. Much would depend on who the Green Party would pledge to support and under what conditions it would be offered.”

It’s unclear which party the Greens will support.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Mr. Weaver twice voted in favour of Liberal budgets. But on other issues, particularly around resource development and climate action, Mr. Weaver has been an outspoken critic of the Liberals. He has denounced the government’s pursuit of a liquefied natural gas sector, for example, and is opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Both the Greens and the NDP have committed to a new relationship with B.C.’s indigenous people that conflicts with the Liberals.”

That article adds, “[Weaver] told the crowd the party’s first priority is banning corporate and union donations, later telling reporters he expects the legislature to introduce a measure banning big money as soon as it sits. Asked about other barriers toward cooperating with the Liberals or NDP, he said supporting LNG is a nonstarter.”

With both the LNG industry and the Kinder Morgan pipeline key aspects of the Liberal platform, it’s difficult to imagine Green Party cooperation with the Liberals on those two issues.

During this provincial election, five Council of Canadians chapters – Comox Valley, Chilliwack, Williams Lake, Cowichan Valley, Delta-Richmond – held events with all candidates. The Vancouver-Burnaby chapter distributed 1100 leaflets on key election issues and the Victoria chapter endorsed the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs’ ‘Vote Anyone But Clark’ online campaign. Furthermore, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow did a five community speaking tour that highlighted water protection issues that reached 1140 people, and Vancouver-based water campaigner Emma Lui developed a social media campaign with infographics opposed to fracking.