A messy week in pipe­line pol­i­tics, law

Fort McMurray Today - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

Since tak­ing of­fice, Justin Trudeau has sought to por­tray his gov­ern­ment as a champion for First Na­tions rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and for the en­ergy in­dus­try.

Last week’s court de­ci­sion on the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion project ap­pears to show the fed­eral gov­ern­ment fal­ter­ing on both fronts.

The Fed­eral Court of Ap­peals over­turned the gov­ern­ment’s ap­proval of the pipe­line project, find­ing the gov­ern­ment had failed to ad­e­quately con­sult with In­dige­nous groups, and had not prop­erly con­sid­ered as an en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ard the im­pact of in­creased tanker traf­fic on the B.C. coast.

To be clear, the court did not con­coct some imag­i­nary bar for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to reach in its con­sul­ta­tions with af­fected

First Na­tions. Rather, the court found the gov­ern­ment had failed to meet its own es­tab­lished guide­lines for mean­ing­ful con­sul­ta­tion. “Canada’s ef­forts fell well short of the mark set by the Supreme Court of Canada,” wrote the judge.

Mean­while, the rul­ing, which re­port­edly caught the oil­patch off guard, has surely raised fur­ther ques­tions about the sta­bil­ity of in­vest­ing in Canada’s en­ergy sec­tor.

Even the per­cep­tion of an un­re­li­able play­ing field is dam­ag­ing to Canada’s econ­omy, let alone the po­ten­tial loss of a project that, as Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau de­scribed it, “means thou­sands of well­pay­ing jobs for the mid­dle class.”

The court de­ci­sion has left Canada hold­ing the $4.5-bil­lion bag on a pipe­line to nowhere, thanks to its just-ap­proved deal to buy the project. Even if a way for­ward is found, the project’s cost will al­most cer­tainly grow, as will the timeline for its com­ple­tion.

As if the news weren’t grim enough, there are also reper­cus­sions for na­tional co­he­sion.

Al­berta Premier Rachel Not­ley lashed out af­ter the court rul­ing, say­ing her province would no longer par­tic­i­pate in the fed­eral cli­mate change plan, the loss for the Trudeau gov­ern­ment of likely the most sym­pa­thetic Al­berta premier it will ever see. The rul­ing has fu­elled rum­blings of Western alien­ation.

If there was any win­ner in the court de­ci­sion, it may have been the In­dige­nous groups that pointed to the rul­ing as one in a long line of de­ci­sions rec­og­niz­ing their rights and ti­tle. The fed­eral Lib­er­als came to power promis­ing a new era in “na­tion to na­tion” con­sul­ta­tion on the road to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. Any pre­tence that pretty words and to­ken ges­tures would be enough to get Canada there were laid to rest this week.

The duty to con­sult is real, and the road will be long.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.