B.C. Premier John Horgan, right, shakes hands with Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee as the two meet at the legislature in Victoria on Nov. 21, 2017.
Dirk Meissner / THE CANADIAN PRESS
British Columbians deserve a premier who works for all of us and the best interests of our province as a whole. Earlier this month, Premier John Horgan got taken for a ride by Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state. Horgan was duped into handing over $600,000 of your hard-earned tax dollars to fund a study into Inslee’s high-speed rail legacy project and hoodwinked into protecting Washington’s oil prices at the expense of Canadian competitiveness and economic development.Our gullible premier did so willingly because Inslee is one of the few elected officials outside the B.C. NDP government who wants to shut down the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. However, his intentions are far from pure.Raising eyebrows north of the border is the fact that this crusade seems solely focused on Canadian activities, with not a single mention of Alaskan tankers or oil-by-rail from North Dakota. In B.C., our two refineries process 70,000 barrels of oil each day. Washington state’s five refineries process 637,000 barrels per day — more than nine times our capacity. While Washington also relies on trains and pipelines to import oil, nearly half of their oil is imported by tankers. Most of those tankers come from Alaska — a journey that takes them down the entire stretch of our West Coast.Inslee proudly proclaimed that he would use “every way that we can under Canadian law” to influence the pipeline project and offered lip service to the premier’s tired talking points on tanker traffic. However, he failed to mention that tankers from Trans Mountain spend very little time in Canadian waters on their way to Asia — a stark contrast to the hundreds of Alaskan tankers that travel up and down our coastline each year. There wasn’t one mention of coastal protection from those tankers, nor the constant procession of rail cars along the banks of the salmon-bearing Columbia River precariously loaded with crude oil that are 4 1/2 times likelier to spill than pipelines.Somehow, whether through charm or subtle manipulation, an American governor has convinced Horgan to target the Canadian oil industry to the benefit of Washington state. As Canada has limited export markets for our oil, Washington is able to buy Alberta oil at a steep discount — around $20 per barrel less than Alaskan crude.The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would allow Canada to tap into Asia-Pacific markets and charge global prices for our resources. It’s not hard to see why any politician in Washington would oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion when it clearly means a cut to their bottom line.Inslee wants to keep prices low in his state and I don’t blame him. What I do question is how Horgan was duped into making life more affordable in Washington instead of supporting jobs and the economy here in Canada. Inslee has found a gullible partner in the premier of B.C., who will not only help him quash the competitiveness of Canadian oil exports, but also commit B.C. taxpayer dollars to study an expensive high-speed rail line proposal.Horgan is now stifling economic development and job creation in B.C. all the while failing to have secured any funding for coastal protection from the federal government or his new-found American friend. Horgan has effectively vetoed the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan that the B.C. Liberal government had negotiated with Ottawa.British Columbians deserve a premier who works for all of us and the best interests of our province as a whole. The charismatic Inslee has managed to convince Horgan otherwise. This budding “bromance” may look good for the cameras, but it’s most certainly bad for B.C.Andrew Wilkinson is leader of the B.C. Liberal Party and Vancouver-Quilchena MLA.Letters to the editor should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at email@example.com.CLICK HERE to report a typo.Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.