Langley-East MLA Rich Coleman was doubtful newly-elected Alberta Premier Jason Kenney will turn off the taps of oil coming to B.C., at least right away.
“There’s always elections, there’s always rhetoric,” Coleman said at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.
Coleman, longtime Liberal MLA for northeastern Langley, was part of a panel including Langley Liberal MLA Mary Polak, Cloverdale-Langley City Liberal MP John Aldag, and Township Mayor Jack Froese.
News that Kenny, head of the United Conservative Party (UCP) had unseated NDP Premier Rachel Notley arrived during the question and answer session.
“Nobody should panic here,” Coleman said of the threat Kenney repeated many times during his campaign, to cut off the Alberta oil supply to B.C. over the NDP-Green government’s opposition to expanding the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
Coleman did voice support for pipeline expansion, saying Alberta has just as much right to move their oil as B.C. has to ship its lumber.
“We need to get our resources in Canada to tidewater,” he said.
The main reason for expanding pipelines from the Alberta oilsands has been to reach new markets outside of North America, via shipping. Alberta oil trades a discount right now because there are not enough pipelines to get oil to either the east or west coast ports, though the gap between the price of Alberta oil and the general North American price has narrowed sharply since the start of the year.
The alternative to pipelines is “10 100-car trains a day” Coleman said, saying pipelines are a safer way to move oil.
The Trans Mountain pipeline, originally built in the 1950s, cuts through northern Langley. Local opposition has come from environmentalists and members of the Kwantlen First Nation, whose primary reserve lies near the oil line.
Aldag was also asked about Trans Mountain.
He noted the federal Liberal government’s purchase of the pipeline was a show of faith in the project.
But Aldag also noted that in the long term, there is to be a transition to a “carbon free” economy. The number of clean energy sector workers in Canada now exceeds the number of workers in the oil sands, he said.