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The sixth condition for resource development

Kinder Morgan has met, or is meeting, all five of British Columbia’s conditions for resource development.

The feds have announced a $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan, which will meet the condition of a world-leading marine spill prevention. Following up on Ottawa’s environmental approval before Christmas, the province yesterday gave the project its environmental blessing, meeting the requirement of passing regulatory hurdles.

Premier Christy Clark said the condition requiring world-leading, land-based spill response is addressed through provincial legislation passed last year, which kind of leaves one wondering why it was a condition if the province could just legislate it so. To me, a condition is something someone else has to meet.

She also said the condition of requiring opportunities for First Nations as well as addressing legal and treaty rights is being addressed by both the federal government and the company.

Which brings us to the biggie … British Columbia getting its fair share.

B.C. has reached an agreement with Kinder Morgan to receive its “fair share.” The company will pay the province between $25 million and $50 million annually for 20 years. There seems to be some leeway there. It could be worth $1 billion to the province, beams the province’s press release … that would be at $50 million for 20 years. I hate to be the negative Nelly who points out reality, but it could $25 million for 20 years or $500 million. The province doesn’t exactly explain how that will be worked out, but at least it’s something. But hey, what’s half a billion between friends?

Come to think of it, though, when the proponents of these big project do their consulting with First Nations, they often come armed with a cheque-book, so why should the province be any different?

Then there’s the sixth condition for major resource project approval. It doesn’t show up in the government press releases … bringing that big fat cheque-book to the Liberal party.

According to the Dogwood Initiative, Kinder Morgan, its oil patch backers and industry associations had already donated at least $718,918 to the BC Liberals by March 2016. (Amounts since then haven’t been released yet.)

The donations, according to the Dogwood Initiative included:

  • $33,188 directly from Kinder Morgan and Trans Mountain;
  • $20,950 from the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, most of it while Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson was CEPA chair;
  • $112,795 from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers;
  • $551,985 from oil sands producers with shipping contracts on the new Trans Mountain pipeline, including Nexen, Cenovus, Devon, Imperial Oil, Suncor and CNRL.

This tally does not include affiliated lobbying and law firms, or contributions by corporate officers through other accounts and companies. Total donations from Alberta’s oil and gas sector to the BC Liberals are estimated at more than $3 million since annual disclosure laws took effect in 2005, according to the Dogwood Initiative, which also points out the province formally opposed the Trans Mountain project at the National Energy Board hearings last January. (Gee, maybe the NDP could may some hay with that if they really want to get elected in May.)

The Liberals, who have steadfastly opposed tightening up regulations over corporate and union donations to political parties, will, of course, will say donations to the party don’t influence government decisions.

And that may be true.

However, the perception is certainly there.

It’s another example of why corporate and union donations to political parties should be removed from our landscape.

Approving the Kinder Morgan project might be in the best interests of the province. However, we would have more confidence in that decision if the party wheels weren’t (forgive the pun) getting greased.

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