Statement on the Trans Mountain Expansion
July 7, 2017
“It is my goal to develop a strong relationship with our community based on trust. It is my opinion that Members of Parliament who can develop these kinds of relationships in their community have the ability to be among the most effective community advocates within the House of Commons.
In that vein, I thought it was important to share with the community the work that we’ve being doing with regards to the Trans Mountain project.”
Full Transcript Below
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY.
Hi everyone, I’d like to speak with you today about the decision to approve the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Both Burnaby and North Vancouver each have a significant stake in this decision. Indeed, our community is arguably the most impacted community in Canada.
This has been demonstrated by how vigorously many of our neighbours have engaged in the decision making process period over the last number of years. When I first ran for office I promised to be a strong voice for our community in Ottawa and to bring innovative and entrepreneurial thinking to the decision making process in Ottawa.
With this in mind I’d like to share with you how we have organized our time and resources over the last year in order to make sure we deliver on that promise.
To determine how we prioritize our time, we developed 4 non-policy and 4 policy priorities.
The 4 non-policy priorities include: my wife, staying healthy, learning French and the 4th was to be a strong constituency MP who was a strong voice for our community in Ottawa.
Based on 50,000 door knocks and 25,000 phone calls. We picked our policy priorities for the first year:
- Strong advocacy on behalf of the community on the trans mountain pipeline.
- Working to address issues surrounding Housing Affordability
- Finding solutions for the traffic congestion on the North Shore
- Utilizing my role as Parliamentary Secretary for Science to help use innovation to grow the economy and solve important problems in fields like the environment or health.
Overarching all of these priorities, it is my goal to develop a strong relationship with our community that is based on trust, because I believe that Members of Parliament who develop trusting relationships with their community are the most effective advocates for them in the House of Commons.
In that vein, I thought it was important to share with the community the work that we’ve been doing with regards to the Trans Mountain project. I decided early on that the best way to be a strong advocate was to deeply understand the issue and I first have to acknowledge that I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help of so many dedicated members of our community.
I want to thank you for all of your work over the last number of years. I’ve read through your reports, listened to your concerns at townhalls and on the doorstep, and drilled into your research. Your passion and hard work was crucial to my ability to strongly advocate on your behalf.
For a number of individuals and organizations (and you know who you are) who helped me articulate a position on behalf of the residents of Burnaby and North Vancouver, I’d like to share with you that our work was considered, acknowledged and acted upon by our Pacific Caucus, our Cabinet and our Prime Minister.
If you have not yet read our report, I would suggest that you download a copy at our website terrybeech-parl.ca. It is my best effort to be a substantial and articulate the voice for our community on this issue. In fact, the Prime Minister acknowledged this in his statement during the announcement.
“We understand and share the deep and abiding sense of responsibility British Columbians feel for our spectacular West Coast.”
“Indeed, one of its most articulate and substantive critics is a caucus colleague, Terry Beech.”
I believe that the quality of any decision is determined by the quality of the debate; and I am proud to be a part of a government who shares this belief. Our cabinet is accessible and open to considering the concerns of local communities and works hard to balance the real economic, political and environmental constraints that any government must operate under.
We also have a Prime Minister who encourages his MPs to speak truth to power and advocate ferociously on behalf of our communities. I am especially proud of this because I don’t believe that I would have been given this same opportunity to voice our community’s concerns under the previous government.
I’d like to take some time to share with you some of the details of how we worked to understand our community’s view and advocate on our community’s behalf. After having done so much research on the issue, I was devastated when I first read the NEB report that was published May 2015. I didn’t understand how so many of our community’s concerns could be absent from this report.
Fortunately Minister Carr had already announced the interim principles for National Energy Projects which meant that cabinet would not just consider the NEB report but three other documents as well:
- A report by a special Ministerial panel who would travel the entire route of the pipeline and the tanker route.
- A review of the project’s impact on Greenhouse Gas emissions; and
- A Joint Federal and Provincial Consultation and accommodation report addressing our constitutional duty to consult Aboriginal groups
Knowing that the Ministerial panel’s report would be reviewed by cabinet, I decided that I should make a presentation, and did the following:
To prepare for this I conducted exhaustive primary and secondary research.
- I read every report
- Did significant comparative economic analysis
- Put together a report on political support for every community and every level of government that is along the pipeline route or a tanker route
- Ravi and I packed up the truck and drove along the route all the way to Alberta
- I attended 6 of the Ministerial panel sessions; 5 in the lower mainland and one in Kamloops
Worked closely with my colleagues in Pacific Caucus
- Held multiple townhalls, coffee meetings and open houses, and kept knocking on doors after the election, bringing our total to over 58,000 doors in the community to date.
- Met with Local councillors and Mayors throughout the Lower Mainland, Representatives Tseil-Waututh, Musqueam and Squamish First Nations, The Premier, the Prime Minister and thousands of local members from our community.
- People took us into their homes and organized get togethers with their friends and neighbours.
All of which informed the final version of our community’s report
On August 19, 2016 I made a 30 minute presentation and submitted an 18-page report that I felt summed up the top ten issues that were communicated to me during all of our public consultations. As well as balance the relevant economic and environmental arguments that I thought would be the most additive and impactful ideas to share with the panel. 9 out of the 10 concerns that I raised were featured prominently in the Ministerial Panel’s report as well.
We then sent out 44,000 surveys throughout the riding, then used your feedback as well as the thousands of emails, letters and phone calls we received to update the report into its final draft form. If you contacted us and we had your home address, you should have received a letter from me, and a full copy of this report. If not, you can download a full copy of the report from our website.
On September 19th, the day the fall session of parliament commenced, I submitted my final version of the report to the panel and turned our attention to advocating on your behalf in Ottawa. Again, a full copy of this report is available for download at Terrybeech-parl.ca We sent a copy of this report to every Member of Parliament, along with an invite to meet every member one-on-one to discuss the importance of this issue to our community.
At the end of the day, I was able to communicate our community’s concerns to the vast majority of the Liberal caucus, including Members of Cabinet and the Prime Minister. I also worked closely with members of Pacific Caucus, which is a group exclusively made up of the 17 Liberal Members of Parliament from British Columbia. While the details of this work is conducted under caucus privilege, it is a working group that dedicated extensive time to advocating on BC’s behalf.
As an example, I would bring your attention to the work of my colleague, Jonathan Wilkinson, who is our neighbour and the Member of Parliament for North Vancouver and also the Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Climate Change. He recently published a nine-page open letter which outlines many of the considerations that must be taken into account with regards to this project. You can find a copy of his letter on our website as well.
My office took a Plan A and Plan B approach with regards to this project. With Plan A, we tried to advocate positions that were most supported by our community. Primarily by looking at ways of capturing much of the economic benefits of the project while minimizing the environmental risks. This included exploring the economics of finding an alternative route that didn’t include the Burrard Inlet and the possibility of refining the product in Alberta.
There is a tendency when discussing these issues to try and talk about mitigating factors, but we specifically avoided those discussions because there is a risk that by working on plan B, you might actually be facilitating the project. That being said, I did add my voice to specific projects that were good on their own merits. For example:
On the Ocean’s protection plan. I pushed hard to ensure that the plan didn’t just talk about preserving the habitat that we already have, because I wanted to make sure we were, for the first time, investing in restoring our coastline after decades of neglect.
I also wanted to make sure the plan involved the leadership and partnership of our local First Nations communities. The relationships I have started to build with these communities – especially with the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation – have been among the most fulfilling of my first year in office. I was giving Chief Maureen Thomas and some Tsleil-Waututh youth a tour of Parliament the day before the decision was announced and I reinforced then my desire to continue to build our relationship regardless of the outcome of this decision.
From Lock up to Open House:
As fate would have it, I was advised the very next day, on the day of the announcement, that I would be attending a closed briefing with Pacific Caucus, where no electronic transmitting devices are allowed. We were briefed on cabinet’s decision shortly before the announcement and then watched the announcement together live on a TV in the room.
By the time I exited the briefing and got my phone back, I had five outstanding media requests. At the time of recording this message I have more than forty. But I decided that it would be best to reserve comment on the decision initially and return to the riding. After all, it was constituents’ input that provided so much of the substance of my report, it seemed only right that I would consult with the community prior to responding to it.
My staff and I made plans immediately to hold an open house in the riding that Saturday to discuss the decision. We posted the event online and started contacting the constituents and community groups we have been working closely with for over a year on this issue to let them know.
The open house was well attended. In about eight hours, I was able to meet with over 90 people in small groups and we booked follow up meetings for many others. We also received and responded to a large number of your telephone calls and messages.
While a few people expressed their support of the project, something that has happened throughout this process and something that I don’t want to discount, the vast majority of individuals raised concerns:
- Worried about how this decision affects our climate change targets
- How we are working to prevent a potential oil spill
- A number of health and safety concerns around diluted bitumen and the Burnaby Mountain Storage Facility.
These are valid concerns and now that the broad strokes of our government’s policy to balance economic growth with protection and restoration of the environment are starting to solidify, I believe it is my job to determine how to best continue to advocate on behalf our community within these policies.
Many have also asked me about the possibility of legal action or protests. Canada is a governed by the rule of law. and the right to peaceful protest is protected by our Charter. I fully support an individual fully exercising their democratic rights.
In the same way that it is my responsibility to attend a chamber of commerce meeting to hear concerns about growth of the economy, or a trade union meeting to hear concerns about job creation, I believe it is also my job to hear about environmental concerns. This is why I have not been shy about attending events where groups criticize government decisions. It is my job to be there, to understand your concerns and share those concerns with Ottawa.
On Climate Change for example, I dedicated an entire chapter in my report to this subject. I share the government’s belief that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing contemporary society. It is my understanding, as a person trained in developmental economics, that putting a price on carbon pollution is the best chance we have at preventing the devastating impacts of a greater than 2 degree increase in global temperature.
It is also my experience that successful precedent is the greatest facilitator of progressive public policy. The speed at which the tide of public opinion turned on women’s suffrage, prohibition and same-sex marriage are all examples of a long held policy status quo hitting a tipping point and the change then spreading at an astonishing pace.
British Columbians should be proud that we set that precedent for pricing carbon pollution. Instituted in 2008, revenue-neutral carbon pricing reduced per-person fuel consumption in BC by 18% while it INCREASED by 3% in the rest of Canada. This happened while BC was building one of the country’s fastest growing economies. The province’s leadership is an undeniable success story that will now facilitate the implementation of a federal price on carbon pollution.
In addition, Pricing Carbon Pollution speeds up the timeline under which sustainable forms of energy are cost efficient. This will give us a competitive advantage in building a clean energy sector that can establish a leadership position in the world, create new green jobs and create a trade surplus of green technology.
We must demonstrate to the world that this type of policy can work while growing the economy. Only then can we export this policy throughout North America and Europe and begin to discuss the subject with emerging economies like India and China. As I stated in my report, this is a global optimization problem that deserves the full attention of government and must take into account the various stages of development and kinds of government that exist among our International partners.
In addition to expanding BC’s leadership on Pricing Carbon Pollution to a national scale we are currently pursuing the following Environmental and Economic Policies, many of which would have seemed impossible to accomplish only a year and a half ago:
- We’re investing $20B into green infrastructure.
- A Pan Canadian Climate Framework that includes:
- Alberta’s imposing a hard greenhouse gas emissions cap on the oil sands
- Commitments to reduce our emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030
- Implementing an Oceans Protection Plan that will begin to reverse years of neglect on our coast and for the first time restore our marine ecosystems.
- Early phase out of coal fired electricity
- An international agreement to eliminate harmful Hydrofluorocarbons or (HFCs)
- A comprehensive plan that will articulate how we intend to meet our 2030 commitments and transition to a low carbon economy.
- And my personal commitment to hold everyone’s feet to the fire and ensure that all 157 conditions are met or exceeded with regards to this project.
As I stated in my report, taking care of this planet is a global optimization problem that must consider other national governments, whose plans are currently at various stages of development. This is a problem and an opportunity that deserves the full attention of government.
And I would suggest that it is fair to say that this country has never had an environmental champion as strong as the current government.
In the words of our Prime Minister:
“Canadians want us to build an economy that works for the middle class and protects our environment so we can leave a better, cleaner country to our kids. Voters rejected the old thinking that what is good for the economy is bad for the environment. They embraced the idea that we need strong environmental policies if we expect to develop our natural resources and get them to international markets. And Canadians know that strong action on the environment is good for the economy. It makes us more competitive by fostering innovation and reducing pollution. Canadians value clean air and water, beautiful coasts and wilderness, and refuse to accept that they must be compromised in order to create growth.”
I couldn’t agree more, and believe it is my responsibility to ensure that our government delivers on this commitment. I will always be a strong advocate for our community and work to leave a cleaner, more prosperous country to our kids than the one we inherited from our parents.
I invite everyone in our community to reach out to my office and to meet with me personally to discuss any further concerns or questions that you might have.
Thank you for your time, your support, and your good wishes.