The BC Conservative candidate in Kelowna-Lake Country is breaking party ranks.
Despite his party's stand in favour of the Northern Gateway Pipeline, Graeme James says he stands firmly against the proposed project.
James says he cannot support Enbridge's plans for a pipeline to transport bitumen across the province and then through BC coastal waters.
"One of my primary concerns is the Enbridge spill record from Wisconsin to the Kalamazoo River. Enbridge has had more than 600 spills involving legal action against the company for their environmental violations," says James.
“The public hearing process has been undemocratic and frustrating for people of all political stripes. I am hearing strongly from local party members who do not support a rush to approve a project where the key proponents have not met the burden of proof in terms of ensuring environmental safety.”
During a pre-election stop in Kelowna earlier this month, BC Conservative Party leader John Cummins stated his party was firmly behind the pipeline.
"The BC Conservatives, alone among our province's four major political parties, support the economic development and high-wage job opportunities that will come with construction of the Northern Gateway pipelines," Cummins stated in Kelowna.
In its alternate throne speech released earlier this week the party further affirmed its support for the pipeline.
"We believe that the benefits associated with the Northern Gateway Pipeline project far outweigh the perceived environmental risks - and the same is true for the proposed expansion of TransMountain pipeline."
While the party talks of perceived risks James says, personally, he has not received any assurances Enbridge can operate the pipeline safely.
"They do not have the track record. The federal government released a report that they (Enbridge) are not up to standards of the newer, higher volume tankers," says James.
"I just believe right now that this pipeline is beyond political parties making points. It's too important."
He also adds a difference of opinion within party ranks shows that BC Conservatives are different from other parties.
"We can vote the way our constituents want and I am not in favour of the Enbridge Pipeline right now because I do not believe the Enbridge company has proven to me they can do it safely. That's a big concern for me," says James.
"We can voice our opinion and not be criticized for it."
James says he's not against a pipeline just that Enbridge hasn't proven they can do it safely.
"I'm willing to listen and I'm willing to change my opinion in the future if they can prove that they can do it safely, but they haven't done that yet," says James.
"I'm not willing to risk my children's future or BC's environmental future on Enbridge right now.