Will B.C. insist companies we subsidize stop using steel made by Russian oligarchs?

Mar 2, 2022 | 42-3, Blog, Governance, Legislature, Question Period, Video | 0 comments

We learned this morning that Coastal Gas Link (CGL) and Trans Mountain Pipelines have purchased steel pipe manufactured by Envraz PLC, a company owned, chaired and run by Russian oligarchs.

It is an important question and in the my delivery of my supplemental I unfortunately missed the main point, thinking and talking on the fly, that the B.C. taxpayers are subsidizing the LNG industry making these purchases.

With Canadian governments and our allies using sanctions against Russia and Russian oligarchs as a way to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for is unprovoked attack on Ukraine, I felt it was important to raise the point that we are subsidizing this industry, and it is making Russian oligarchs more wealthy.

Following question period, it was clarified by Andrew MacLeod from The Tyee, that CGL purchased the pipe years ago, the last of which was delivered in 2021.

Nevertheless, I took Premier Horgan up on his offer to provide more information by sending him a note clarifying that it is my hope that the BC NDP provincial government makes it clear that we expect companies that we are subsidizing will not enrich Russian state owned or Russian oligarch owned and run companies.

[Transcript]

A. Olsen:

I couldn’t hear the last part, but it was pointed down this way. Anyway, I thought what was happening yesterday was going to stay in yesterday, but apparently it’s kind of crept on into today.

On Monday, the Premier called on the B.C. Investment corporation to divest from Russian investments. He said the events “unfolding in Europe right now are unprecedented in our lifetimes” and need to be stopped. “A message, a clear and united message, from all Canadians has to go forward. The whole point of sanctions…is to make with one voice a call to the international community to stand up to a brutal dictator.”

It was encouraging to see the parties united in support for the democracy in Ukraine. Aside from encouraging the B.C. Investment corporation to divest, what specific actions have we taken to divest from Russia in support of Ukraine?

Hon. J. Horgan:

I’m not aware of any investments the province of British Columbia has in central Europe or Asia. I think we were all speaking with one voice, including the Green Party, encouraging the trustees responsible for pension funds and the billions of dollars to make the right choice. It appears not only are they making the right choice, but they have been doing so over a period of weeks, and that’s good news for everybody.

If the member’s got a secondary question that can lay out what moneys or what investments he’s talking about, I’ll be in a better position to answer the question.

A. Olsen:

Today in question period the Premier said that we should be focusing on actions that can happen today. Specifically, the Premier said let’s focus on something real and practical right now, in response to the previous questions.

[2:10 p.m.]

The solutions we are using as a global community right now are sanctions and divestments of Russian assets — Putin’s assets and the assets of Russian oligarchs.

Since the beginning of the week, members of this assembly have been positioning oil and gas development in British Columbia as ethical alternates to Russian sources. B.C.’s supposedly ethical oil and gas isn’t so ethical though. Not only is it associated with human rights abuses against Indigenous people in our own country, it is still a profit machine for those Russian oligarchs that globally, the world is divesting from.

Evraz plc is a company supplying steel for both the Coastal GasLink LNG project and the Trans Mountain pipeline project. The owner, chairman and former CEO of Evraz are all Russian oligarchs who the world is divesting from. In 2018, the United States placed on a Putin list of Russians who had benefitted from their close relationships with Putin. These owners. Yes, four years ago the Americans identified these individuals as dangerous.

To the Premier — will we do our part to relieve ourselves from Russia’s stranglehold, as the member said earlier, and immediately order Coastal GasLink to divest themselves of their relationship with Evraz plc?

Hon. J. Horgan:

If I understood the member’s first question, it was what investments does the government of British Columbia have in Russian assets or Russian resources, and I’m confident the answer is none. What private sector companies operating in British Columbia are doing is not known to me. I’ll take the member’s research as given and we’ll take a look at that, but these are not B.C.’s investments. These are private sector investments that were not known — certainly, not known — to me until the member stood in his place. I’ll take that under advisement and I’ll get back to him.

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