The federal government has agreed to let Enbridge build its Northern Gateway pipeline, subject to 209 conditions recommended by the National Energy Board and further talks with aboriginal communities.
Enbridge wants to build the pipeline from Bruderheim, Alta., to Kitimat, B.C.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair called it "folly" and "pure madness" to think anyone can put supertankers in British Columbia's Douglas Channel.
Both Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said they would reverse the decision to accept the National Energy Board's pipeline approval. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, environmental groups and First Nations reacted quickly to news of the federal approval, releasing statements opposing it.
Nathan Cullen, the NDP's finance critic and an MP who represents an area the pipeline would traverse, said the approval is "an arrogant, Ottawa-based" decision.
"Conservative MPs know that. They will be held to account for this," Cullen said.
Conservative MPs 'hiding'
Mulcair said Conservative MPs from British Columbia are "hiding under their desks right now" because the pipeline is already an election issue in the province.
Trudeau said British Columbians aren't opposed to economic development, but want it done right.
"This government has actually hindered our ability to get our resources to market by not doing its homework … not building the right kinds of partnerships with communities," Trudeau said.
Art Sterritt, executive director of British Columbia's Coastal First Nations, said he's looking to B.C. Premier Christy Clark to stop the project. In a news release, Sterritt warned that First Nations are weighing a range of legal and direct action responses, but will wait to see what Enbridge does.
"We’ll see if Enbridge dares to put its shovels in the ground," Sterritt said in the release. "First Nations and our allies will protect our rights and the interests of future generations. We will never allow oil tankers into our territorial waters."
Mulcair also warned of protests against the pipeline.
"We're talking about a severe threat to social order, social peace, not only in British Columbia, but in Canada, if Mr. Harper continues to ignore science, continues to ignore First Nations," Mulcair said.
May said the terrain under which the pipeline would pass is rugged but fragile, making it extremely hard to clean up any spill.
"Every First Nation along the route opposes the project," she added.
More permits needed before construction can start
The federal approval is one more step in a long line of permits necessary for Enbridge to get access to the Pacific coast to ship crude to Asia.
The federal regulatory process began in May 2010 when Enbridge submitted its application to the National Energy Board.
Earlier Tuesday, the NDP and Liberals seized on the drawbacks to approving the pipeline, devoting much of question period to the Northern Gateway project.
Mulcair listed the opponents of the pipeline.
"Municipalities? Kitimat. Terrace. Prince Rupert. Smithers. They all say no," he said.
"Over 130 First Nations across B.C.? They all say no. Three-hundred scientists? They all say no. The prime minister endorsed this pipeline publicly three years ago. No matter what evidence, how many people speak out, how many people stand up against him, he keeps pushing this project."
Northern Gateway pipeline approved with 209 conditions