VIU hosting Prime Minister’s town hall in Nanaimo

VIU hosting Prime Minister's town hall in Nanaimo

WATCH: The pipeline battle between Alberta and B.C. will take centre stage at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island campus tomorrow morning.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be there, holding the latest in his series of town hall meetings.   Trudeau and his government approved plans for the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline last year. It would triple the amount of bitumen, or unprocessed heavy oil from Alberta to Vancouver’s harbour where its loaded onto freighters and then shipped through waters off the west coast. BC’s government is opposed to the expansion. So, the prime minister may be on the hot seat in Nanaimo.

Shooting hoops inside the VIU gymnasium, but tomorrow, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will have to score some serious points here.

This is his last stop on a cross-country town hall tour, where he’ll hear from locals, including student Sonya Saxena, “I would like to ask about the international students. I would like to ask about that in detail.”

But pipelines will likely come up, especially after Trudeau told an Edmonton radio station he backs the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

Premier John Horgan says BC will not back down from suspending the pipeline expansion.

“We believe we have every right to protect our marine environment and our economy,” Horgan said.

“We made it abundantly clear during the election campaign that we didn’t believe that a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic from the Lower Mainland was in the interest of our marine environment or our economy.”

Alberta’s premier Rachel Notley threatened economic sanctions against BC earlier this week after an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss B.C.’s ban on an increase in bitumen shipments.

“The B.C. government took this action with no provocation. This is a violation of the rules governing our confederation is an understatement. It is an attack on its very foundation,” Notley said.

In the latest shot, Notley cancelled talks on buying B.C. electricity from the still uncompleted Site C project.

Dr Alexander Netherton is the chair of political science at VIU, and he believes this battle is all about Trudeau sending a message to Albertans.

“I think that statement is saying to Alberta is that we’ve delivered the goods to you. And we will in terms of pipelines,” Netherton said.

Some exchanges at the town halls are heated including last month in Hamilton, Ontario.

Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog says he expects some tough questions to the prime minister.

“British Columbia is going to do everything it legally can to try and stop the building of the pipeline. The premier’s made that clear. Our minister of the environment has made that clear.We don’t want a war,” Krog said

It’s expected to be a full house at the VIU gymnasium.

It’s open to the public and officially starts at 11 a.m.

But some people are posting on social media they intend to start lining up at six a.m. to ensure they get in.

As he has across the country, Trudeau will take questions from the audience.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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