Terry Beech was one of two Liberal MPs who voted against a motion in support of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain expansion project in the House of Commons this week.
Conservative MP Mark Strahl introduced the motion, which affirmed that the $7.4-billion pipeline expansion project has social licence to proceed, is critical to the economy and the creation of thousands of jobs, is environmentally sound and should go ahead as planned.
It passed by a vote of 252 to 51, with all Liberal MPs backing it except for Beech, the MP for Burnaby North-Seymour, and Hedy Fry, the MP for Vancouver Centre.
“I do understand the government’s position. They’re trying to balance the economy and the environment. ... But at the end of the day, I did promise that I would take my constituents’ voice to Ottawa and not the other way around. I was very vocal about that before the (federal) decision was made, and this is just a matter of me being consistent with my position on that issue,” Beech said of his nay vote.
The local MP has never taken a yes or no stance on the project. Instead, Beech referred the media and constituents to a report he presented to the Trans Mountain ministerial panel last August. The first chapter, on the topic of social licence, states “people of Burnaby North-Seymour on balance stand opposed to this project, and that the community does not grant its permission for this project to proceed.”
“(My vote) is a reflection of the report I wrote,” Beech told the NOW. “The reason I say that is because it’s a very complex issue. I literally spent years reading tens of thousands of pages of reports and talking to thousands of people, and I don’t think this issue is as easy as a yes or no answer. ... We need to look at the whole package of what the government is trying to do (to) balance the economy and the environment.”
Beech pointed to the “unprecedented” and “very progressive” changes that are underway to protect the environment for future generations, including transitioning to a low-carbon economy and restoring protections in the Fisheries Act.
“Every day we’re trying to get that balance right,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his cabinet’s approval of the expansion project last November. In January, Premier Christy Clark said Kinder Morgan had met the province’s five conditions.
When asked if there’s been any backlash from his Liberal colleagues or the prime minister himself as a result of his opposing vote, Beech chose not to comment. He also declined to comment on B.C.’s minority government, and if the B.C. NDP-Green alliance could stop the project, only saying, “it’s an interesting time for provincial politics.”
Twinning the pipeline, which will transport raw bitumen from Edmonton to Burnaby, will triple capacity to 890,000 barrels of oil per day. Tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet is also estimated to increase sevenfold.
Construction is expected to start this September, with a completion date of December 2019.