The provincial government's position on oilsands exports from the B.C. coast is incoherent, according to Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen.
This week the B.C. and Alberta governments released the terms of reference for a ministerial working group on energy exports. The group said it believes if new pipelines aren't built to ship diluted bitumen from northern Alberta to the coast, then rail will be used to fill the void.
Regardless of how the oil gets there, it will need to be shipped using tankers.
"I find it very hard to understand what the Premier of British Columbia's view is on shipping raw bitumen out of Alberta to B.C.'s coast," Cullen said Thursday during a conference call with regional media. "She sort of blows hot and cold on this thing, one day she says there's no tanker support and if an oil spill were to happen it would be a disaster and the next day puts together the tenants of an agreement with Alberta to ensure it will happen."
The provincial government has consistently said it does not support the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in its current form, but has its five conditions are a pathway to yes for heavy oil exports.
"The ability for people to feel confident about the pipeline and the supertankers requires more than the hot and cold musings of B.C.'s premier," Cullen said. "The general narrative has been incredibly difficult to track when it comes to this particular premier and her stance on bitumen to the coast."
Meanwhile, Cullen said his decision on whether to run for leader of the B.C. NDP is dependent on when the leadership contest will take place. He said dropping all of his federal responsibilities right now isn't an option, but he'd be more inclined to run provincially if the party delayed the vote.
"In terms of the party, a longer, better, deeper conversation about renewal and the kind of efforts that need to be taken on for the next election are critical and you can't rush that conversation," he said. "It seems to me if you hit any kind of a panic button and try to get things done quicker than you ought to, it just doesn't allow the renewal to happen."
Cullen expects the provincial party will announce a leadership vote date in the next couple of weeks and his decision will come shortly thereafter.