The provincial government is laying the groundwork to reverse its opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, according to NDP environment critic Spencer Chandra Herbert.
"It looks to me like they're lining up the dots and so that they can say, 'look we've got a finished puzzle and go ahead Enbridge,' " Herbert said Monday.
Last summer Premier Christy Clark said no new heavy oil pipelines would be approved in the province unless its five conditions regarding safety, First Nations consultations and a fair share of the economic benefits are met. In its final argument to the National Energy Board's Joint Review panel in June, the provincial government said it couldn't support the northern Alberta to Kitimat pipeline as proposed.
Clark told the Globe and Mail this week that she's increasingly confident a deal could be reached to ensure the five conditions are being met.
"It looks like the Premier, despite before the election seeming to be quite aggressively against Enbridge - even in the submission they made to the Joint Review Panel - it looks like now, after the election, she's decided that putting a price on the coast is acceptable," Herbert said.
The first of the five conditions is a positive recommendation from the National Energy Board, the next two deal with having a world-class land and marine spill response plan in place, the fourth is adequate consultations with First Nations and the final one deals with the economic fair share.
"The fifth point around getting a fair share for B.C. was the one [Clark] didn't think she was getting close on and now she's saying she's optimistic," Herbert said.
The NDP opposed the Northern Gateway project in the spring election campaign and Herbert said his party isn't convinced that spills can be prevented or responded to quickly. He pointed to a 2010 spill on a Enbirdge-owned pipeline in Michigan as proof it shouldn't be built.
"The risk is so great, you could wipe out whole parts of the economy in the north with one spill," he said. Give us a couple of trinkets, that's still not going to get us to say yes."