PIPE­LINE POL­I­TICS EN­SURES OT­TAWA AND AL­BERTA WILL RE­MAIN DI­VIDED

StarMetro Halifax - - BIG OPINIONS - Chan­tal Hébert

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

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

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. Hover your cam­era app over this code to con­tinue read­ing at THES­TAR.COM/OPIN­IONS

STEPHEN HARPER ... WOULD HAVE FACED MANY OF THE SAME ROAD­BLOCKS.

JEFF MCIN­TOSH/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

The on­go­ing oil pipe­line dis­putes are a key part of present — and fu­ture — prob­lems be­tween fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments, Chan­tal Hébert writes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.