Burnaby MP Terry Beech is sponsoring an e-petition against the Kinder Morgan pipeline, but it’s not clear if that means he’s choosing sides on the issue.
The petition calls “upon the House of Commons to do all it can to prevent the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline, and support the municipal and provincial governments by rejecting the proposal for the expansion project.”
Harrison Phillips of Vancouver is listed as the proponent, and Beech is the sponsoring MP. Under the new e-petition rules, anyone hoping to present an electronic petition must find a member of Parliament to sponsor it. So far the petition has 31 signatures. A minimum of 500 signatures will trigger a response from government.
The NOW reached out to Beech for comment on Tuesday morning, but he was unavailable for an interview. The multibillion dollar Kinder Morgan expansion is in Beech’s riding, and his party’s cabinet has the final say on whether the project moves forward.
Burnaby South MP Kennedy Stewart, who brought e-petitions to the House of Commons with a backbenchers’ bill, said he was surprised to see Beech sponsor the petition because it suggests endorsement.
“That’s really how they are being interpreted. If an MP sponsors a petition, you’re actually in favour of what’s being asked,” he said.
Beech recently held a town hall meeting on the Kinder Morgan pipeline and climate change, but at no point did he come out for or against the pipeline.
Kai Nagata, spokesperson for the Dogwood Initiative, is campaigning against the pipeline project.
“Whether it’s gun laws or pipelines, I don’t think there are a lot of examples of MPs that are sponsoring petitions that they disagree with, so I think it’s a good sign,” he said. “In the riding where he lives, opposition to the pipeline is pretty unequivocal.”
The NOW requested an interview with Beech to ask where, exactly, he stands on the pipeline issue, but he was unavailable. Instead, his office forwarded an emailed statement saying the sponsorship isn't an official endorsement, and that the petition came from a high school student.
"Terry started his first election campaign for city council when he was only 17 and was elected when he was 18, so he understands the significant contribution young people make to our community. He has been actively reaching out to students at our local high schools, elementary schools, universities, and colleges to encourage increasing levels of youth engagement and community contribution. This includes attending local assemblies, organizing student club days, lunchtime democracy chats, classroom visits, and the revision of the MP certificate program for new graduates," the statement reads. "While the sponsoring of a petition is not an official endorsement, Terry supports and applauds the student's initiative and looks forward to seeing the results of the student's work. He also encourages the student to get involved with the formal town halls, coffee meetings, and public hearings that are currently underway in the riding and throughout British Columbia."