(Adds comments from party leaders)
By Nicole Mordant and Ethan Lou
VANCOUVER/CALGARY May 10 The prospect of a
minority Liberal government in British Columbia heightened
economic uncertainty on Canada's west coast on Wednesday,
pitting the future of key energy projects against the ability of
the Liberals to work with the third-party Greens.
A Liberal win threatens U.S. coal exporters that rely on
British Columbia's ports to ship to Asia. The Liberals have
threatened a levy, in retaliation for U.S. duties on softwood
Preliminary results showed the ruling right-of-center
Liberals squeaked to victory with 43 seats but were one seat shy
of a majority. The left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) took
41 seats. Absentee votes still need to be counted, a process
that will take until May 24 and could change the outcome.
The province's nominal leader, the lieutenant governor, has
requested the Liberal Premier Christy Clark continue to govern.
To keep power, the energy-friendly Clark needs to woo the
tiny environmentalist Green Party, possibly making concessions
as she tries to push forward with pipeline expansion plans and
liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects.
On Wednesday, Clark said she was ready to work across party
lines and hopes to meet Greens leader Andrew Weaver soon.
The Greens, which have three seats, could also ally with the
NDP to form their own majority, resulting in an administration
unfriendly to energy development.
When asked if that would happen, NDP leader John Horgan on
Wednesday said he spoke to Weaver overnight and noted they had a
range of issues in common.
Weaver told reporters he shares priorities with Horgan but
said it was too premature to pick a side before some 176,100
absentee votes are counted.
Even if he allies with the Liberals, however, "the most
immediate casualty could be the Kinder Morgan Trans
Mountain Expansion," Dejardins analysts said of the C$7.4
billion ($5.4 billion) federally approved pipeline project
through British Columbia that both NDP and the Greens oppose.
Weaver opposes the Trans Mountain expansion, saying the
danger of a heavy oil spill is too great and the economic
benefits of the pipeline too small. He has also criticized the
Liberals’ LNG development plans, saying it would almost double
British Columbia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
George Hoberg, professor of environmental and natural
resource policy at the University of British Columbia, said the
situation could create uncertainties and makes building the
project politically difficult.
"Constitutionally, the federal government might have the
upper hand ... but the B.C. government could force significant
delays," he said.
Kinder Morgan's Canadian unit said in a regulatory filing on
Wednesday it is looking to raise up to C$1.75 billion ($1.28
billion) in an initial public offering to fund Trans Mountain.
When asked whether Kinder Morgan Canada is concerned about
the British Columbia election, President Ian Anderson said its
pipeline project continues to move forward.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers industry
lobby group, whose members depend on export routes such as Trans
Mountain, said: "We're prepared to continue to advocate for our
The coastal British Columbia is home to numerous pending LNG
export terminals whose fates have now become uncertain, such as
one $27 billion project of Malaysia's Petronas for
which the NDP's Horgan has expressed reservations.
The Greens' Weaver said on Wednesday: "I don't know if I
need any compromise on LNG."
Hoberg said, "LNG project approvals would be easier for the
province to unilaterally reverse," compared with federally
The BC LNG Alliance industry group said its members remain
committed to their projects and look forward to working with the
(Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver, Andrea Hopkins in
Ottawa and Ethan Lou in Calgary, Alberta; Editing by Bernard Orr
and Lisa Shumaker)