VANCOUVER — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley have welcomed British Columbia’s new premier-designate John Horgan despite simmering tensions over the Trans Mountain pipeline project.
Horgan, a New Democrat, has promised to use every tool available to halt the $7.4-billion expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline. The project has been approved by the federal government and is seen as crucial to revitalizing Alberta's oilsands.
During the B.C. election campaign, Notley, who leads the NDP in Alberta, banned her staff from working to elect Horgan due to their disagreement over the project. Trudeau, at a stop in Metro Vancouver last month, suggested the B.C. NDP's position was "wrong."
But on June 30, a day after Christy Clark's Liberal government was defeated in a non-confidence vote in the provincial legislature, both Notley and Trudeau issued statements that avoided the touchy subject of the pipeline.
"I look forward to working closely with premier-designate Horgan to deliver real results on the issues that matter to British Columbians and to all Canadians," Trudeau said.
"By coming together in a spirit of co-operation, I am confident that we can grow the industries and sectors at the heart of the province's prosperity, while promoting clean growth and innovation and investing in public transit and green infrastructure."
The prime minister also said he looked forward to working with Horgan to implement the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Trudeau thanked Clark for her work as premier and her public service contributions to the province and the country.
Horgan told Vancouver radio station CKNW on June 30 that stopping Trans Mountain was not his top priority. He said he will focus his attention first on other issues including the opioid crisis and housing.
He has not said which tools he will use to try to stop the pipeline, apart from saying legal and regulatory options are available.
In her statement, Notley offered "heartfelt congratulations" to Horgan and appreciation and thanks to Clark.
"Alberta and British Columbia share more than a border. We are bound together by deep personal and economic ties and a commitment to building strong communities with good jobs, strong public services and a clean environment," Notley said.
"I know that premier-designate Horgan is a champion for these values. I look forward to working with him and his new government to advance our shared interests and to make life better for the people of our two provinces."