Federal Heritage Minister James Moore speaks to reporters at a meeting of the Surrey Board of Trade Friday.

Focus on moderate middle in raucus pipeline debate: Moore

Federal minister says 'extreme' voices shouldn't dominate as B.C. mulls oil exports

B.C.’s senior federal cabinet minister in the Harper government is urging other politicians not to be swayed by extremists who are dead-set against new oil pipelines through the province.

James Moore predicted Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline through the Lower Mainland will dominate debate in the coming provincial election.

“I just hope we also have a reasoned debate,” Moore said in an interview in Surrey, where he was addressing the Surrey Board of Trade.

“There are those who don’t believe we should be developing our natural resources at all. And they will come up with any argument, rational or not, to stop us.”

But he said most are more moderate and prepared to export Canadian resources if it’s done in a way that’s environmentally and socially responsible.

“In a lot of these debates it polarizes very quickly and you get very loud and aggressive voices at the extreme ends of the debate, when the vast majority of the public is in the middle,” Moore said. “It’s important that all levels of goverment realize that’s where the public is.”

Moore said he welcomes B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake’s exploration of ways to strengthen the response to spills of any hazardous products on land, including from truck or rail cars.

“Some of these are areas of shared responsibility,” he said, noting the federal government licences the transport of goods across provincial boundaries.

“We’re doing a wholesale look at all of our policies when it comes to protecting our environment,”  Moore said. “If Terry Lake has good ideas, we’ll be glad to take a look at them and consider them.”

In response to an audience question about coal dust from trains as coal exports through Metro Vancouver increase, Moore said he believes it should be possible for railways to address the problem.

“With coal getting to market there are huge benefits, lots of money to be made and I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest there be some reciprocity,” he said.

His address focused on federal efforts to achieve economic growth while reducing the tax burden on families.

The Canadian Heritage Minister also pledged the new Canadian Museum of History will offer travelling exhibits and artifacts – with travel and insurance costs covered by Ottawa – allowing smaller museums across the country to showcase national treasures like the van Terry Fox used on his Marathon of Hope.