Pipeline politics: How an NDP victory in B.C. could divide Canada’s left – British Columbia

An NDP victory in the B.C. provincial election on May 9 — a distinct possibility, if you believe the current polls —  would put progressive parties in charge of Canada’s two westernmost provinces.

But it could also spark a conflict with electoral ramifications in Alberta and beyond.

“It’s really important for Rachel Notley that the B.C. NDP do not win,” said Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Calgary’s Mount Royal University.

“It is clear, although Notley is staying officially neutral … she wants the Liberals to win the next election.” 

Why is B.C.’s election causing such intrigue across the Rockies? After all, blood is usually thicker than water. 

But oil tends to overwhelm both. 

No Kinder surprise

At issue is the $6.8-billion expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to a terminal on the B.C. coast less than 10 kilometres from Vancouver.

It was approved by the federal government in January and is supported by both provinces. 

But not by B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan, who strongly condemned the approval that day, and has said the NDP will “use every tool in our toolbox to stop the project from going ahead.”

Trans Mountain Pipeline: what you need to know0:48

In April, Notley barred her staff and caucus from helping the B.C. NDP in its election, directly tying the decision to the Kinder Morgan schism.  

“It’s difficult for them to be working for our government, and then also supporting candidates who would be opposed to the successful construction of the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” she said to an Alberta columnist.    

It was particularly noteworthy given that Notley and Horgan worked together as NDP staffers in B.C. in the 1990s and the number of people with B.C. NDP ties in Notley’s government. NDP veterans traditionally support provincial campaigns across the country. 

More that unites than divides

Moe Sihota, a former NDP…

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