DISCUSSIONS: 2 – (June 2) Pipeline: federal supremacy versus provincial expediency?

Exxon Valdez

Exxon Valdez, oil spill catastrophes on the British Columbia coast…tanker traffic in the straits between Vancouver and Vancouver Island, a tremendously busy shipping corridor already.

Is this a disaster in the making?


Vancouver (Red Dot): western terminus, TRANS MOUNTAIN PIPELINE

The background
The BC election results were razor close for the two main provincial parties: Christy Clark’s Liberals 43, John Horgan’s NDP, 41. However, Andrew Weaver, leader of the Green Party which won 3 seats could be the kingmaker. At this time, Weaver looks like he will side with the NDP which means Clark can try to govern as a minority government.

Behind the scenes
There is a battle going on behind the scenes over the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline which will ship bitumen laden crude to the BC coast for transfer to oil tankers. This issue could have major significance for all of Canada in terms of federal versus provincial power.

Alberta premier Rachel Notley is an obvious proponent of the pipeline. When and if oil prices change, Alberta’s economy will boom again. Notley would argue that BC stands to gain significantly through jobs and oil transmission fees.

The federal government has already given its approval to the project and Trudeau reaffirmed its support while attending the European conferences.

Clark, maybe as she had seen the writing on the wall, agreed to the project.

Opposition to the pipeline
There were expected opponents to the pipeline from the environmentalists fearing spill accidents to the indigenous people who saw the pipeline’s proposed route violating their lands.

However, the opposition which currently has the most impact is that of the Green Party, led by Andrew Weaver. With the election results being what they are in BC, Weaver holds the balance of power should Clark choose not to lead a minority government or should she choose to do so, it fails.

The current situation
Kinder Morgan will go ahead with the construction of the pipeline currently as it has been given approval already. However, should a new government take office, BC could put a halt to the construction, at which point, Trudeau will

Interprovincial pipelines are Ottawa’s jurisdiction but BC could put up road blocks, such as refusing logging permits for construction or insisting on a provincial environmental assessment. The federal government would be forced to bring about resolution via the courts where Ottawa would likely win. However, legal resolution could take years.

Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan investors could abandon ship if they fear their investment risks are at significant risk or too far in the future.

Is the real question about political power? Federal supremacy versus regional expediency?

Sources: Pressreader and National Post

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