Province seeks in­ter­vener sta­tus

S.K. min­is­ter ac­cuses B.C. city of hold­ing up pipe­line process


The Govern­ment of Saskatchewan is again throw­ing it­self into the na­tional de­bate sur­round­ing pipe­lines.

The govern­ment an­nounced that it will be seek­ing in­ter­vener sta­tus with the Na­tional En­ergy Board (NEB) as it re­lates to the Trans Mountain Pipe­line project. In a me­dia re­lease sent out Fri­day morn­ing, Saskatchewan’s Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Don Mor­gan de­fended the govern­ment’s course of ac­tion.

“Our govern­ment will con­tinue to ad­vo­cate for an ex­pan­sion of pipe­line ca­pac­ity across Canada,” he said.

If they are granted the sta­tus, the pro­vin­cial govern­ment will be able to par­tic­i­pate in the process by ask­ing ques­tions and pre­sent­ing re­search and ev­i­dence for ex­am­i­na­tion by the NEB. The pipe­line will run from Ed­mon­ton, through the B.C. in­te­rior, be­fore end­ing on the province’s coast. The project has been a con­tentious one, with many groups ex­press­ing con­cerns about po­ten­tial en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts. Moose Jaw North MLA War­ren Michel­son ex­plained that in mak­ing the de­ci­sion to ask for in­ter­vener sta­tus, the govern­ment is act­ing in the province’s best in­ter­ests.

“The stance of the pro­vin­cial govern­ment is to do ev­ery­thing we can for the good of the Saskatchewan economy and the peo­ple of Saskatchewan, so the at­tor­ney gen­eral has de­cided to seek in­ter­ven­tion into get­ting this pipe­line put through,” he said.

Michel­son said the city of Moose Jaw would not see any di­rect eco­nomic ben­e­fits from the project go­ing through, but that it is still an im­por­tant one.

“Specif­i­cally, for Moose Jaw it re­ally is an um­brella project that would help all of Saskatchewan,” he said.

The me­dia re­lease also sin­gled out the City of Burn­aby Bri­tish Columbia, which the govern­ment ac­cused of de­lib­er­ately slow­ing down the project. The city has been op­posed to the project since it was first an­nounced.

“We are dis­ap­pointed the City of Burn­aby is de­lib­er­ately slow­ing down an im­por­tant project for an in­dus­try that is only now re­cov­er­ing from the se­vere slow­down caused by low oil prices,” Mor­gan said in the re­lease.

Burn­aby Mayor Derek Cor­ri­gan re­sponded to Mor­gan’s ac­cu­sa­tions with some very pointed crit­i­cisms.

“I was shocked at how ir­re­spon­si­ble your at­tor­ney gen­eral is,” he said when reached Fri­day af­ter­noon.

The mayor added that Mor­gan was mak­ing state­ments that were based on in­for­ma­tion that is not com­pletely re­li­able.

“Why would he, sim­ply on the ba­sis of af­fi­davit ma­te­ri­als from Kin­der Mor­gan, con­clude that ev­ery­thing they say is cor­rect?” he said. He said that Mor­gan’s ac­tions are ones that are un­be­com­ing of a ju­di­cial of­fi­cer and amount to pre-judg­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

“That is so ir­re­spon­si­ble as to be un­con­scionable, is that how things op­er­ate in Saskatchewan,” he said.

Cor­ri­gan said that the Saskatchewan govern­ment has the right to ask for in­ter­vener sta­tus as part of the process. He ex­plained that many other ju­ris­dic­tions around the coun­try would take is­sues with the sen­ti­ment that lo­cal and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments should give up cer­tain reg­u­la­tory func­tions be­cause a project is found to be one that is in the na­tional in­ter­est.

Don Mor­gan was not avail­able to com­ment on Fri­day. A govern­ment spokesper­son said they would be mak­ing a state­ment on Mon­day.

Dis­putes be­tween provinces are not new in Canada, nor is it new for a province to be given in­ter­vener sta­tus in re­gards to an is­sue be­ing dealt with in another province. Ray­mond Blake is the head of the de­part­ment of his­tory at the Univer­sity of Regina, and has done ex­ten­sive re­search on Cana­dian fed­er­al­ism. He said peo­ple and or­ga­ni­za­tions need to meet cer­tain cri­te­ria in or­der to get in­ter­vener sta­tus with a tri­bunal like the NEB.

“The ones they will rec­og­nize as hav­ing in­ter­vener sta­tus are ones that have a vested in­ter­est in the out­come,” he said.

Any­one is al­lowed to ap­ply for in­ter­vener sta­tus to bod­ies like the NEB, but, ac­cord­ing to Blake, in the name of keep­ing the process smooth they of­ten limit the num­ber sta­tuses granted.

“I think quite of­ten what hap­pens in these tri­bunals … they sort of take peo­ple who are rep­re­sen­ta­tive,” he said.

Blake spec­u­lated that in their ar­gu­ment to get in­ter­vener sta­tus, the Saskatchewan govern­ment may make the case that the Trans Mountain Pipe­line is so im­por­tant to Saskatchewan from a num­ber of stand­points that they de­serve a seat at the ta­ble. He added that the govern­ment of Al­berta would likely be mak­ing sim­i­lar claims, which could be in­ter­est­ing in the po­lit­i­cal arena.

“This may in fact bring the NDP govern­ment in Al­berta and the Sask. Party in Saskatchewan to­gether,” he said.

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