KAMLOOPS, B.C. - New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix has stepped into the increasingly-fractious debate over the export of oil through British Columbia, saying he doesn't want to see Vancouver turned into a major oil export port.
While campaigning in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, Dix said the proposed twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline project doesn't fit with the economic and environmental needs of Vancouver.
Although Dix said he would await the results of whatever reviews are held into the project that would see more than 400,000 barrels of oil shipped through Vancouver waters daily.
"We do not expect Vancouver to become a major oil export port as appears to be suggested in what Kinder Morgan is proposing," he said. "I don't think that the port of Vancouver, as busy a port as it is and successful a port as it is, should become a major oil export port."
Dix also repeated what he said would be an NDP government's opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project from northern Alberta to the northwest B.C. port of Kitimat.
Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) plans to build a twin pipeline to send Alberta oil product to Kitimat and place it on supertankers where it will be shipped to Asia.
Dix's announcement was welcomed by environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, ForestEthics Advocacy and the Dogwood Initiative.
“Residents of Victoria and the Gulf Islands are not willing to accept the risks of a new Kinder Morgan pipeline and corresponding surge in oil tanker traffic off our south coast,” said Sarah Cox, B.C.'s Sierra Club spokeswoman in a statement. “The city of Victoria and Union of B.C. Municipalities have passed resolutions opposing the expansion of oil-tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast. Victoria city council has expressed 'unequivocal opposition' to the Kinder Morgan proposal."
Premier Christy Clark said Dix's positions on pipeline projects in B.C. are confusing, prompting her to reissue her challenge for a one-one-one debate with the NDP leader.
"A lot of us are getting frustrated with having to read between the lines of what Adrian Dix actually stands for," she said.
Dix was in Liberal Environment Minister Terry Lake's Kamloops riding on Earth Day to outline an NDP government's proposed environmental plans.
The NDP's green agenda includes dissolving the controversial Pacific Carbon Trust, using carbon tax revenue to invest in public transit and green projects and introducing an expanded ban on the use of cosmetic pesticides in B.C.
Dix said an NDP government will invest $120 million over the next three years to fight climate change in urban and rural communities.
Much of that money will come from the NDP's earlier announcement to shift revenues from the carbon tax.
"In our plan we've laid out over the next three years an investment of $30 million, $40 million and $50 million that will go primarily from the carbon tax ... to support transit around British Columbia and other green initiatives in communities that don't have a transit system," said Dix.
Dix said the NDP will seek to meet legislated targets implemented by the Liberals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one-third by 2020.
The Liberal party issued a statement highly critical of what it called Dix's detail-deficient $120 million announcement.
"Adrian Dix committed another $120 million he doesn't have without saying what, where or how it would be spent. It's a new low." said Environment Minister Terry Lake in a statement.
Dix said schools, hospitals and other public institutions have paid tens of millions of dollars in carbon offset emission levies, while private companies received similar amounts of money for merely listing their inventory of uncut forests or unused gas projects.
"The government's view on carbon neutral government is to take money from cash-starved hospitals and give it to big polluters," he said. "We think that money should be kept to support public institutions."
Dix said the dissolved Pacific Carbon Trust will be placed under the authority of the government's Climate Action Secretariat, which oversees the province's climate change reduction policies.
Under the proposed NDP carbon offsets plan, public institutions will still pay to offset their carbon emissions, but the money will be used to fund public green projects as opposed to giving money to private corporations.
Dix said the cost of the environmental plan is $36 million over this fiscal year, rising to $60 million by 2015-16, pushing the party's total new spending this year to $238-million, and $739-million by 2015-16.
Dix took questions from high school students at Kamloops Westsyde Secondary School.
Students asked about local mining projects, former federal NDP leader Jack Layton and reducing the debt.
Grade 10 student Chanel Aksenchuk asked Dix, "when it comes to teen abortions are you prochoice or prolife?"
Dix said he was prochoice.
"I'm prochoice," he said. "But I should say this that I think we have to do what we can to reduce as much as possible teen pregnancy."
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