Sheila Malcolmson, NDP MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, held an emergency Facebook Live town hall Thursday, connecting with constituents remotely from Ottawa. (FACEBOOK image)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP holds emergency town hall on pipeline purchase

Sheila Malcolmson says there were already environmental risks, now there are more economic risks

Nanaimo’s member of Parliament sees more risks for Canadians after the federal government’s announcement last week that it will be purchasing the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

Sheila Malcolmson, NDP MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, held an emergency Facebook Live town hall Thursday, connecting with constituents remotely from Ottawa.

“Far from home, I really wanted to get a sense of how people were reacting, find out what kind of questions that they had, what’s the mood of people on the ground, people whose livelihoods could be affected, people whose pensions might be affected depending how this gets financed,” she said.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr announced on Tuesday the purchase agreement, which will see the Government of Canada buy Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion project and related pipeline and terminal assets for $4.5 billion.

“Our government believes that the commercial agreement we have reached with Kinder Morgan is the best way to protect thousands of good, well-paying jobs while delivering a solid return on investment for Canadians. This is an investment in Canada’s future,” said Morneau in a press release, with Carr adding that the deal “will help advance Canada as an energy leader, as a place where good projects get built.”

But Malcolmson called the agreement a “lose-lose proposition” for Canadians.

“It’s both economic risk for the taxpayers – not for the shareholders of Kinder Morgan – as well as the environmental risks…” she said. “People are really alarmed.”

RELATED: Prime minister left himself no choice on pipeline

RELATED: Trans Mountain pipeline and the economics of oil

She has concerns about investing in the fossil fuel industry and depending on job creation in the oil sands, and added that “the world is awash in cheaper, better-refinded sources of fuel.”

“It’s not clear at all that if we go ahead and subject now the taxpayer to the risk of spending $10 billion to construct the pipeline, that in fact the economic case is going to be there,” she said. “And that’s what a lot of us feel was Kinder Morgan’s assessment, which is why they were very happy to have it off-loaded to the prime minister and the taxpayer.”

Asked about her constituents working in the Alberta oil fields, Malcolmson said people are going to be working in the oil sands for a long time to come, but she doesn’t think spending billions on a pipeline is the way to save those jobs.

“Regardless, we’re going to have to make … investments in what’s the next layer of energy jobs in this country and I hope that it’s more diverse than what we’ve got right now,” she said.

A full day of debate on the topic is anticipated Monday, June 4, in the House of Commons.

Malcolmson said it’s important for people on Vancouver Island to keep talking about the issue, because she said B.C.’s coast is not something that people in eastern Canada can appreciate in the same way.

“I’m determined to stand up for the coast; I’m determined to defeat the Kinder Morgan pipeline and take the risk away from the people of our coast and the precious places of our coast,” Malcolmson said.

To view the emergency Facebook Live town hall, follow this link.

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