PIPELINE POLITICS ENSURES OTTAWA AND ALBERTA WILL REMAIN DIVIDED
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All is far from well between Rachel Notley’s Alberta government and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. With the prime minister in the eye of the storm over the failure to get more oil to tidewater, no federal gesture between now and next fall’s election is likely to really lower the temperature between the two capitals.
The combination — within a space of six months next year — of an Alberta and a federal election probably guarantees that the rhetoric between the two capitals will become more heated. But those who expect that the federal vote will wash away the clouds should think again. For months now the trend in the voting intentions polls has pointed to a Consera The ongoing oil pipeline disputes are a key part of present — and future — problems between federal and provincial governments, Chantal Hébert writes.
vative sweep of Alberta next fall.
A Liberal victory would almost certainly see the province consigned to the opposition benches, with no voice within the federal government. And that would only exacerbate the current frustrations with Ottawa. But the alternative is not necessarily promising of a more harmonious climate. Anyone who expects
STEPHEN HARPER ... WOULD HAVE FACED MANY OF
THE SAME ROADBLOCKS.
Conservative victory to result in peace or even decisive action on the pipeline front is almost certainly in for a disappointment.
For all the talk among Conservatives about Trudeau messing up the file, Stephen Harper — had he been reelected as prime minister in 2015 — would have faced many of the same roadblocks.
The Northern Gateway pipeline green lit by his government over its last term in office was anything but a done deal. The controversial project was mired in litigation. Shortly after Harper left office, a court overturned his approval of the pipeline.
Instead of scrapping the project as Trudeau did, a Conservative government would probably have appealed the decision and, in the end, the Supreme Court would have had the last word. But there is no guarantee that the top court would not have doubled down on the original ruling and ordered the government to more properly acquit itself of its duty to consult the Indigenous communities affected by the pipeline.
The duty to consult is part of Canada’s constitutional framework. There is no opting out of it. The notwithstanding clause only applies to some sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is not a get-out-of-jail card at the disposal of governments looking for a way to ignore any inconvenient court ruling.