Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A train containing a load of coal is delivered to Westshore Terminals in Delta, B.C.

Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail

B.C. billionaire Jim Pattison, the largest shareholder in a coal-exporting site in British Columbia, has a message for Victoria – keep your hands off thermal coal shipped from Westshore Terminals Investment Corp.

The BC Liberal government, which wants to impose a hefty carbon levy on thermal coal exports from B.C. ports, might be toppled as early as Thursday by an alliance of the BC NDP and Greens. The Greens support such a carbon tax, though BC NDP Leader John Horgan hasn't made it a top political priority.

Industry observers say Mr. Horgan, should he become B.C. premier, is unlikely to act as swiftly on thermal coal as Premier Christy Clark pledged to do during the campaign for the May 9 provincial election. But Westshore still faces the political threat of a clampdown on thermal coal, which is used by power plants to generate electricity.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Pattison said that with the weak long-term outlook for consumption of thermal coal in North America, Westshore should be allowed to continue exporting to electricity producers in countries such as South Korea, Chile and Japan.

"Over time, thermal coal, in my opinion, will be replaced either by natural gas or renewable energy. But there's lots of thermal coal in the world, and it is certainly legal to export. If we don't ship it, somebody else will ship it," he said in an interview, referring to coal suppliers such as Indonesia, Australia and Russia. "All you do is take jobs away from B.C. and Alberta, and American jobs, too."

Westshore exports U.S. thermal coal that arrives by train at the shipping terminal south of Vancouver. Federally owned Ridley Terminals Inc., located in the Port of Prince Rupert in northwestern British Columbia, handles Alberta thermal coal. Both facilities also export Canadian metallurgical coal, a major steel-making ingredient.

Mr. Pattison, who owns a 30-per-cent stake in publicly traded Westshore, said the amount of thermal coal shipped from Canada is tiny compared with global supply.

"Thermal coal is certainly an important issue with the environment. We're not producers of the coal, we're in the business of shipping the coal. We have long-term contracts, and we follow the laws," he said.

The 88-year-old billionaire said Westshore directors and executives oversee a valuable service that is a boost to the Canadian economy.

Westshore's board includes former BC NDP premier Glen Clark, who is Jim Pattison Group president, and former Canadian Pacific Railway president William Stinson. Westshore's management team is headed by Glenn Dudar, vice-president and general manager.

Story continues below advertisement

"I have a high regard for Glen Clark. He is a good man," Mr. Pattison said. "And the guy who really knows his onions is Glenn Dudar."

During Westshore's annual meeting last week in Vancouver, Mr. Stinson criticized Ms. Clark for lobbying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to have Ottawa intervene.

"On April 26, during the final days of campaigning for provincial re-election, B.C. Premier Christy Clark wrote a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau asking for a ban on U.S. thermal coal as a counter to recently reintroduced U.S. countervail duties against B.C. lumber companies," Mr. Stinson told shareholders. "She also stated that if the federal government didn't do something, she would. This was a direct attack against Westshore and its U.S. customers. She then broadened the proposed ban to all thermal coal, which puts thermal coal mines in Alberta and the Alberta government into the fray."

Environmentalists say Westshore is trying to minimize its position in coal markets when it remains part of the problem. "Westshore is clearly trying to duck responsibility for its role in promoting a dirty, hazardous business," said Clark Williams-Derry, director of energy finance at the Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based environmental think tank.

On May 2, Ms. Clark said that if Ottawa doesn't take action, her BC Liberals would implement a carbon levy of $70 a tonne on thermal coal exports from British Columbia.

Mr. Stinson doubted that any B.C. government could legally slap a carbon tax on thermal coal at federally regulated ports in the province. "But this has caused some uncertainty in the investment community and for us, our employees, our U.S. customers and their customers," he said.

Story continues below advertisement

The BC Liberals won 43 seats in the May 9 provincial election, compared with the BC NDP's 41 seats and the Greens with victories in three ridings.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies