To understand B.C.’s push for the Coastal GasLink pipeline, think fracking, LNG Canada and the Site C dam

The pipeline at the centre of the Wet’suwet’en conflict is also central to the province’s long-running effort to attract multinational corporations and build up a liquefied natural gas export empire — all with infusions of public money. Here’s what you need to know

Cabin gas plant B.C.

If you had mentioned the Coastal GasLink project two months ago at a dinner party you likely would have been met with blank stares and a quick segue to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Vancouver Island hidey-hole.

Since early February, when the RCMP arrested Wet’suwet’en matriarchs, hereditary chiefs and their supporters — setting off nation-wide blockades of rail lines and ports and igniting a national debate about Indigenous rights and title, large resource projects and the global climate emergency — Coastal GasLink has risen from obscurity to infamy.

Most reports describe the project as “a natural gas pipeline.” But the reality is far more complex.

The Narwhal zooms out to focus on the bigger picture, which includes two other industrial projects in the works, one foreign-funded (LNG Canada) and the other publicly funded (the Site C dam).

Spoiler alert: the big picture includes billions in subsidies for industry, tens of thousands of idle and orphan fracking wells, a multi-billion dollar clean-up bill and massive climate impacts.

What is the Coastal GasLink pipeline?

 The Coastal GasLink pipeline will carry fracked gas from gas plays on B.C.’s northeast to Kitimat on B.C.’s northwest for export to Asian markets.

The pipeline is owned by TC Energy Corporation, a Calgary-based company more commonly recognized by its former name TransCanada and for another fiercely opposed pipeline project, the Keystone XL.

TC Energy has partnered with some of the world’s most profitable oil and gas corporations to build the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline, which will cut through old-growth forests, wetlands, rivers, streams and habitat for critically endangered species such as southern mountain caribou.

Want to know how much money TC Energy president and CEO Russell Girling makes? Girling made $11.4 million in 2018, according to company documents.

Coastal GasLink Pipeline Map

Map of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Map: Carol Linnitt / The Narwhal

What does the Coastal GasLink pipeline have to do with the LNG Canada project?

The short answer: one would not exist without the other.

The longer answer?

LNG Canada project will take fracked gas from the Coastal GasLink pipeline and cool it in massive compressors — at a new Kitimat facility — to minus 162 degrees Celsius, the point at which gas turns into liquid. The liquefied gas will then be transported to Asia in ocean tankers as long as six football fields.

Natural gas prices recently fell to their lowest level in four years, due to a persistent glut. The United States, traditionally the main user of Canadian gas, is poised to become self-sufficient in the fuel due to new extraction technologies.

Cue the multinationals and the dream of LNG.

Demand for LNG has been growing, particularly in Asia, and B.C. wants in. (Although demand has recently stalled due to milder winters and the novel coronavirus outbreak, threatening to make LNG plants around the world unprofitable.)

LNG Canada is a joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell, Petronas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi and Korean Gas.

Royal Dutch Shell, the globe’s fourth largest oil and gas company, is a public British-Dutch owned corporation headquartered in the Netherlands. It owns 40 per cent of LNG Canada.

A second partner, Petronas, is owned by the Malaysian government and has a 25 per cent share in the project.

The Chinese government-owned PetroChina Company Ltd., the world’s third-largest oil and gas company, owns 15 per cent, as does Japanese multinational Mitsubishi.

Korean Gas Corp., which completes the multinational quintet, is owned by the South Korean government and is the world’s largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG). It has a five per cent share.

LNG Canada project, Kitimat B.C. 2017

The site of the LNG Canada project in Kitimat in 2017. Photo: Garth Lenz / The Narwhal

Government press materials tout LNG Canada as a $40 billion project, calling it “the largest private-sector investment in B.C.’s history.”

But LNG Canada estimates a $25 to $40 billion investment for a two-phase project. Only phase one of the project has received approval.

For phase one, LNG Canada has only committed to spending between $2.5 and $4.1 billion in B.C. and acknowledges that between $7 and $11.1 billion for phase one will be spent on foreign soil. This includes the cost of construction of the export facility, which will be manufactured abroad and shipped in pieces to Kitimat.

LNG Canada will be one of the country’s largest greenhouse gas emitters

If you followed the recent debate about Teck Resources’ Frontier oilsands mine, noted for its environmental impacts and greenhouse gas emissions, hold onto your hat.

LNG Canada will be one of the country’s largest greenhouse gas emitters — and that’s before fugitive methane emissions from fracking are factored into the carbon equation.

According to the B.C. government, the LNG Canada project will emit four megatonnes of carbon emissions each year during its first phase — the equivalent of adding 856,531 cars to the road.

Teck’s Frontier oilsands mine would have emitted 4.1 megatonnes of greenhouse gases a year, putting the two projects almost on par with each other for carbon pollution during LNG Canada’s first phase.

If the project’s second phase goes ahead, LNG Canada will emit more than double the carbon of the cancelled Frontier oilsands mine project — 8.6 megatonnes per year in 2030, rising to 9.6 megatonnes in 2050.

That’s roughly the equivalent of putting 1.7 million new cars on the road each year.

The B.C. government’s emissions estimate includes only the first phase of the project.

Emissions from both LNG Canada project phases would represent close to three-quarters of B.C.’s legislated target for greenhouse gas emissions in 2050, set at about 13 megatonnes a year.

Isn’t natural gas a clean, environmentally friendly fuel?

Industry has successfully marketed gas as ‘natural’ because, like other fossil fuels, it comes from the earth. The term “natural gas” is now widely used.

The majority of gas shipped through the Coastal GasLink pipeline will come from northeast B.C., where the predominant form of extraction is a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. B.C. is the fastest-growing natural gas producer in Canada, thanks in large part to the advent of fracking.

Fracking is a technique that involves blasting a mixture of water, chemicals and sand deep into the earth to break apart rock formations and release previously inaccessible oil or natural gas deposits.

Fracking uses vast amounts of fresh water. Recent frack jobs in northeast B.C. have used more than 22 million litres of water per well — enough to fill about nine Olympic-sized swimming pools. The water becomes contaminated after the fracking process and must be disposed of in tailings ponds or by being injected deep underground.

The industry’s pressing need for fresh water has resulted in the construction of at least 90 unlicensed dams in northeast B.C.

Fracking releases significant carbon emissions through fugitive leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. New research published in the journal Nature suggests natural gas is a much dirtier fossil fuel than previously thought, with emissions that put it on par with coal.

There is also increasing evidence of human health issues linked to fracking. One study found mothers who live close to a fracking well are more likely to give birth to a less healthy child with a low birth weight.

Human health issues related to fracking were recently flagged by Dawson Creek doctors as a potential cause for concern after they saw patients with symptoms they could not explain, including nosebleeds, respiratory illnesses and rare cancers, as well as a surprising number of glioblastomas, a malignant brain cancer.

An independent scientific review commissioned by the B.C. government found that fracking entails numerous unknown risks to human health and the environment.

The review did not include a thorough examination of the public health implications of fracking, in keeping with the government’s quiet assurance to the industry lobby group Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers that the hot button issue would not be part of the panel’s mandate.

Even before a fracking boom gets underway for the LNG Canada project, there are more than 11,000 inactive fracking wells in B.C. that need to be decommissioned and the land restored to its previous condition.

In an audit last year, B.C.’s former Auditor General Carol Bellringer found the oil and gas commission had not secured enough money from companies to cover an estimated $3 billion in cleanup costs.

Bankrupt fracking companies have also left the commission — and, ultimately, taxpayers — responsible for cleaning up a burgeoning number of orphan wells, including contaminated sites and wastewater pits.

The number of orphan wells is poised to double to between 646 and 746 this year, after a 769 per cent increase over the past four years. Last year, the commission reclaimed just four orphan well sites. It plans to reclaim 15 sites this year, leading many to wonder if the province will ever catch up.

What does this all have to do with the Site C dam, anyway?

The publicly funded Site C dam, currently under construction on B.C.’s Peace River, will provide subsidized electricity for the LNG Canada project.

The Site C dam was rejected in the 1980s and 1990s — the first time by the watchdog B.C. Utilities Commission after two years of hearings, and the second by BC Hydro’s own board of directors, who said the project was too costly and its environmental and social impacts were too great.

B.C.’s former Liberal government approved the project in 2014 after changing the law to strip the utilities commission of its responsibility to determine if the project was in the public interest.

The dam will flood 128 kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries, putting an area the equivalent distance of driving from Vancouver to Whistler under water up to 50 metres deep.

Site C construction. Peace River. B.C.

Site C dam construction on the Peace River. Photo: Garth Lenz / The Narwhal

B.C.’s NDP government had an opportunity to cancel the project after it came to power in 2017 but chose to continue construction, approving another $2 billion for the dam’s escalating tab, which now stands at $10.7 billion.

The Site C dam will flood traditional Treaty 8 territory, including First Nations burial grounds, trapping and hunting grounds and cultural and spiritual sites. It will eradicate some of Canada’s richest farmland, inundate protected heritage and archeological sites, destroy habitat for more than 100 species vulnerable to extinction and flood 800 hectares of carbon-storing wetlands.

You can read all about the project and its impacts on the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (formerly the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) website. Be warned: it’s about 15,000 pages.

A UBC study found the Site C project will have more significant adverse environmental effects than any project ever examined in the history of Canada’s environmental assessment act, including oilsands projects, mining projects and the Northern Gateway project, which was cancelled by the Trudeau government on the grounds that impacts on First Nations and the environment were unacceptable.

The global human rights group Amnesty International says the Site C dam project violates human rights and does not meet international standards for forced evictions. Two Treaty 8 First Nations have filed civil claims alleging that the Site C dam and two previous dams on the Peace River constitute an unjustifiable infringement of their treaty rights.

Lawyers warn that a settlement in favour of the nations could add $1 billion to the Site C dam price tag.

How did governments push to advance the LNG Canada project?

To attract the corporations behind LNG Canada, B.C.’s NDP government offered a smorgasbord of direct subsidies worth an initial $5.35 billion, in the form of tax reprieves, tax exemptions and discounted electricity rates.

Without government handouts the LNG Canada project, set to begin operation by 2025, would not be economical for the companies involved.

The B.C. government justified the subsidies on the grounds that LNG Canada will provide 10,000 construction jobs (that’s including construction jobs on the Coastal GasLink pipeline) and $24 billion in provincial revenue over the next 40 years.

The list of subsidies is long but it’s your money so you might want to know how it’s spent. Grab some popcorn and settle in. Ready? Here we go.

While British Columbians have to pay provincial sales taxes on, for example, an electric car, LNG Canada’s PST exemption means the company will not have to pay this tax during its construction period. That gives the consortium what is essentially an interest-free loan for two decades, for an annual savings of about $19 million to $21 million, according to economist Marc Lee, who has called the LNG Canada project a “carbon bomb.”

The NDP government has also eliminated the LNG income tax (a tax the B.C. NDP supported while in opposition), while a natural gas tax credit gives LNG Canada an additional three per cent corporate income tax cut.

While touting its Clean BC plan, the provincial government has at the same time exempted LNG Canada from increases in the B.C. carbon tax above $30 per tonne.

The consortium will get a rebate that economist Lee pegs at about $62 million a year (once the carbon tax, now at $40 per tonne, rises to $50 per tonne next year).

And, even as BC Hydro customers face rate hikes totalling eight per cent from 2019 to 2024, the publicly funded Site C dam will provide subsidized electricity for LNG Canada.

According to Lee, the new power supplied from Site C will cost about double what LNG Canada will pay for it — amounting to a subsidy valued at between $32 million and $59 million per year. That leaves ratepayers to make up the difference.

“The LNG Canada agreement locks in these tax and subsidy provisions for 20 years against future changes by governments that might be concerned about, say, climate change,” Lee notes in the Georgia Straight. “A decade from now — amid growing climate chaos — a newly elected B.C. premier would have their hands tied by having to pay financial compensation for any changes to the four measures that affect LNG Canada’s bottom line.”

Provincial ratepayers and federal taxpayers will also foot the bill for new transmission lines for the LNG Canada project.

Through its “Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan,” the federal government will contribute $83.6 million to the cost of building a new transmission line to supply B.C.’s natural gas industry with power from the Site C dam. BC Hydro, a publicly owned utility, will provide $205.4 million. If you’re a BC Hydro customer, that’s your money.

In August 2019, the B.C. and federal governments also announced a $680 million fund to support the further electrification of LNG in B.C. Details about what each level of government will pay, and when spending will occur, have not yet been announced.

Additionally, the federal government has granted a $1 billion tariff exemption for the importation of steel modules for the LNG Canada and Woodfibre LNG projects.

The B.C. government also provides LNG Canada with indirect subsidies. B.C.’s royalty regime offers the gas industry a range of credits that substantially reduce the actual royalties paid. Royalties are what companies pay to governments for developing a publicly owned resource.

The B.C. budget released last month shows that natural gas royalties would have been $534 million this year. But after royalty credits are deducted the number drops to $153 million — a far cry, Lee points out, from gas royalties in the $1 billion to $2 billion range the province collected in the early 2000s.

Deep well credits are yet another form of subsidy for the gas industry, with the B.C. government providing $1.2 billion to fracking companies over a recent two-year period.

Canada provides more government support for oil and gas companies than any other G7 nation and is among the least transparent about fossil fuel subsidies, according to a report from a coalition of NGOs.

But won’t the Site C dam produce clean energy?

Large hydro dams are a hugely expensive and destructive way to generate renewable energy. They are not “green,” or environmentally friendly.

The Site C dam and its reservoir will eliminate ancient wetlands called tufa seeps, old-growth boreal forests and a living laboratory for scientists to study how species adapt to climate change. It will also poison bull trout, a species vulnerable to extinction, and other fish with methylmercury.

The Peace River Valley, which would be inundated by the dam, is a flyway for migratory birds and part of the boreal bird nursery. It hosts three-quarters of all B.C.’s bird species. As many as 30,000 songbirds and woodpeckers nest in the dam’s future flood zone, which stretches the equivalent distance of driving from Vancouver to Whistler when flooded Peace River tributaries are included.

One study by U.S. scientists shows hydro reservoirs produce considerably more carbon emissions than previously thought. About 80 per cent of the emissions are in the form of methane, a greenhouse gas 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

A UBC-led report debunked the unsubstantiated claim by the B.C. and federal governments that the Site C dam’s ecological impacts are justified on the grounds that the project will deliver electricity with lower greenhouse gas emissions than other sources.

The report also found that alternatives to the Site C project would create significantly more jobs, produce electricity at a lower cost with fewer risks and have a significantly lower environmental impact.

What’s next?

After three days and nights of negotiations between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the federal and provincial governments, a tentative agreement on land rights and title was reached on March 1. Details of the agreement, which will be shown to all Wet’suwet’en members, have not been released.

Horgan recently said he has no intention of altering the province’s position on the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

“I firmly believe, after many decades involved in public policymaking and observing events, that we are absolutely on the right course,” the Premier said, “and I’m going to carry on.” SOURCE

 

Welcome to the Canadian Rebellion of 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan

Three of the Wet'suwet'en women arrested today at the Unist'ot'en camp—Freda Huson, Brenda Michell, and Victoria Redsun—have been freed from custody.

Three of the Wet’suwet’en women arrested today at the Unist’ot’en camp—Freda Huson, Brenda Michell, and Victoria Redsun—have been freed from custody. UNIST’OT’EN CAMP

This evening, the RCMP issued yet another news release suggesting that the situation in northern B.C. is under control.

Seven people were arrested at the Unist’ot’en camp at the 66-kilometre point on the Morice West Forest Service Road.

In Metro Vancouver, another 57 people were arrested today following shutdowns at Port of Vancouver operations in Vancouver and Delta.

Meanwhile, a large group of demonstrators has gathered at the B.C. legislature in advance of tomorrow’s speech from the throne.

And another group blocked a railway in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood going into the Port of Vancouver.

Dani Aiello@dani_elaaiello

Main and Hastings is NOT our final destination. There are bigger plans in the works. Stay tuned.

Dani Aiello@dani_elaaiello

Now taking over the train tracks and Venables and Glen. Another economic disruption. No injunction here. Come join!

Embedded video

Just don’t call them protesters. They prefer the term “land defenders”.

That’s because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan were so dim-witted as to think their governments could give the green light to a natural gas pipeline across unceded Wet’suwet’en traditional territory without triggering a popular rebellion.

The hereditary chiefs had already gone to the Supreme Court of Canada more than two decades ago to establish that their Aboriginal title existed. And they had kiboshed two other proposed pipelines across their territory.

Did Trudeau and Horgan seriously believe that the latest one by Coastal GasLink would be built to fuel their $40-billion LNG fossil-fueled pipedream?

Of course, mainstream media outlets aren’t using the term “Canadian Rebellion” yet.

But what other words can describe a movement that has shut down railways in different cities, closed the country’s biggest port for several days, and blocked traffic on highways and bridges, including the two crossings that connect Victoria with the suburb of Esquimalt?

Jess Housty@jesshousty

If you can’t show up in Bella Bella ro support everyone gathered here, find a local action, organize a local action, read the supporter toolkit, make a donation, make your mark. Haíɫzaqv women continue to hold it down for our Wet’suwet’en relatives. http://unistoten.camp/supportertoolkit/ 

View image on Twitter

“I am very satisfied that this operation was conducted safely and there were no injuries sustained by anyone,” RCMP senior commander David Attfield said in the news release. “This was a very challenging situation, and I am proud of the professionalism displayed by our members.”

It reminds me of former U.S. president George W. Bush’s flying onto an aircraft carrier early in the Iraq war on May 1, 2003, and delivering a boisterous speech to the troops under the banner “Mission Accomplished”.

That military conflict dragged on for several more years.

Dani Aiello@dani_elaaiello

Respect. ✊🏼✨🔥 https://twitter.com/jorgebarrera/status/1227035011787972608 

Jorge Barrera @JorgeBarrera

Mohawks prepare to enter 6th day of railway shutdown in support of Wet’suwet’enhttps://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/tyendinaga-mohawks-wet-suwet-en-rail-shutdown-1.5458980 

View image on Twitter
Similarly, the dispute over the Coastal GasLink pipeline is far from over in Canada. And anyone who believes that major enforcement operations have ended in connection with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ grievances is kidding themselves.

For proof, all they have to do is watch what happens on Tuesday (February 11) when B.C. legislature begins its spring sitting.

Or when the Lions Gate Bridge and Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing are shut down.

We can all expect a fair amount of chaos for a while.

Trudeau and Horgan aren’t helping matters by their constant harping about their determination to address the climate crisis and their respect for Indigenous rights. That only enrages people even more every time these politicians’ actions say the opposite.

Today, Mounties arrested Unist’ot’en women deep on their unceded traditional territory as they were holding a ceremony honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The police action has turned Freda Huson, Karla Tait, Brenda Michell, Victoria Redsun, and Autumn Walken—along with ally Pocholo Alen Conception—into folk heroes for Indigenous people and other supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs across Canada.

UNIST’OT’EN CAMP

The hashtag #WetsuwetenStrong now routinely appears alongside such hashtags as #AllEyesOnWetsuweten, #ReconciliationIsDead, and #thetimeisnow.

Most ominously for those who make their living on Bay Street, #WetsuwetenStrong is increasingly showing up alongside another hashtag: #ShutDownCanada.

This is what Trudeau and Horgan have created by failing to fully consider how much support Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs could muster in their struggle to maintain their infrastructure—the land—that has nourished their people for thousands of years.

Now, Canadians are going to have to get used to regular disturbances to their infrastructure in the rest of Canada.

That’s Trudeau’s legacy. That’s Horgan’s legacy. That’s their rebellion.

Te Ara Whatu@TeAraWhatu

Yesturday Te Ara Whatu and allies stood in support of Wet’suwet’en outside the Canadian Consulate. We absolutely denounce all ongoing violence towards land protectors & send our prayers to those on the frontlines

Full press release here: https://bit.ly/2OJunuZ 

View image on Twitter
55 people are talking about this

GROWING RESISTANCE AGAINST HORGAN AND TRUDEAU ENERGY POLICIES

The courts and both the federal and provincial governments continue to back the drive by energy corporations to expand the extraction and export of fossil fuels in British Columbia, but resistance is also rising. Over a thousand people marched through downtown Vancouver on January 11, in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and members who oppose construction of the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline across their unceded Indigenous territories.

Many in the crowd were environmental and social justice activists, speaking out against the pipeline which would bring fracked liquid natural gas to an LNG terminal in Kitimat. The project would dramatically boost BC’s carbon emissions in exchange for several thousand temporary jobs, and economic benefits which are impossible to predict given the current glut of hydrocarbons on global markets.

The CGL/Kitimat project puts the spotlight on the provincial NDP government’s mixed record on carbon emissions and Indigenous rights.

Elected partly in response to the former Liberal government’s abysmal stand on these issues, Premier John Horgan’s NDP has tried to satisfy corporate pressures while claiming to support Indigenous rights. The BC legislature recently became the first in Canada to pass a law to implement the terms of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, a move which was welcomed by every major First Nations organization in the province.

The NDP has strongly opposed twinning of the TransMountain (TMX) pipeline, which would expand the amount of bitumen from the Alberta tar sands for delivery to tankers on Burrard Inlet. That controversial project, heavily backed by the federal Liberal government, is widely condemned as a danger to coastal waters by residents of the Metro Vancouver area, and by the nearby Tsleil-Waututh First Nation.

The Horgan government had attempted to require provincial permits before heavy oil could be shipped across BC. But a January 16 Supreme Court of Canada decision upholds a BC Court of Appeal ruling that such permits would violate Ottawa’s constitutional authority to approve and regulate pipelines that cross provincial boundaries. The ruling removes one of the last legal obstacles blocking the expansion.

On the other hand, there were some hopes that the NDP’s UNDRIP legislation would bring a shift away from backing LNG expansion, such as provincial tax breaks for the industry. But Horgan now argues that his government’s Bill 41 was intended to cover the period looking forward, not projects such as the CGL pipeline which have already received formal approval.

Horgan’s position makes it crystal clear that his government will not stand with Wet’suwet’en people and allies who are holding out in -30 temperatures, defying court injunctions and the RCMP in their struggle to keep Coastal Gas Link out of their lands, the Yintahs.

A year ago, the RCMP arrested unarmed land defenders, and there are fears that a similar round of arrests could take place soon. The UK-based Guardian newspaper recently revealed that before the January 2019 raid, RCMP officers were given permission to shoot land defenders. This time around, the RCMP has created an “exclusion zone” around the pipeline route, alleging that land defenders are preparing to use violence.

As tensions build, the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs are calling on Horgan to oppose police action. Instead, the premier has refused to meet with the Chiefs, and indicates he will support a raid on the camp in order to uphold corporate interests over Indigenous rights.

In response, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, BC Civil Liberties Association, British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union, and UBC law professor Margot Young held a news conference on January 17 to condemn the RCMP’s exclusionary zone.

According to UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, “We expect the provincial government and BC RCMP to honour the Supreme Court of Canada’s precedent setting Delgamuukw/Gisday’way case and the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples in all their decisions and actions. For Wet’suwet’en people to be denied access to their own territories as a result of a police exclusion zone smacks of outright racism and the colonial-era pass system sanctioned by the so-called rule of law, which our people survived for far too long.” SOURCE

BC Green Leader Crosses RCMP Checkpoint, Visits Wet’suwet’en Camps

Adam Olsen urges new approach to pipeline conflict, while Premier John Horgan visits LNG plant site.

Olsen-main.jpg

Green interim leader Adam Olsen passed through the RCMP checkpoint and met with Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Dsta’hyl. Photo by Dan Mesec.

It’s a blustery Saturday in northern B.C. and Green party interim leader Adam Olsen has just stepped off a plane in Smithers.

He is heading to the Office of the Wet’suwet’en and a meeting with the hereditary chiefs fighting the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their traditional territory.

Hereditary Chief Na’Moks shows Olsen around the boardroom and explains a map of clan and house group territories. He points out photos of hereditary chiefs who paved the way for the nation’s land claims, and photos of Wet’suwet’en children. They remind the chiefs of their responsibility, Na’Moks said.

“Long-term planning,” said Olsen, the MLA for Saanich North and the Islands who took over as interim party leader when Andrew Weaver stepped down in December.

Dominating the room is a table more than six metres long. It’s from the Smithers courtroom where the landmark Delgamuukw case was launched by the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en in Smithers more than 30 years ago. The case, ultimately decided by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1997, was critical in establishing Indigenous rights to traditional territories.

Sitting at that table, Olsen said he doesn’t have any simple answers to resolve the pipeline conflict. He stressed the importance of starting a conversation.

“It really starts with humility and listening and spending time and building relationships and having those conversations. I’ve been honoured to have the invite to come up and do it,” Olsen said. “That invitation means something to me.”

Na’Moks welcomed Olsen’s visit.

“We’re actually quite honoured to have Mr. Olsen here, as the leader of the Green Party of British Columbia,” Na’Moks said. “Previously, we’ve had other leaders in here that would not stand behind their words when they talk to us. We expect better. I know we deserve better.”

851px version of Secondary-one.jpg
Green interim leader Adam Olsen presents Hereditary Chief Na’Moks and the Wet’suwet’en people with a drum from the Tsartlip First Nation. Photo by Dan Mesec.B.C. Premier John Horgan was also in the region on the weekend, with stops in Kitimat, Terrace, Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof, Quesnel and Prince George.

Horgan’s tour included a visit to the LNG Canada site in Kitimat that will use gas from the pipeline, but not a meeting with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who requested a meeting with him.

Tensions have been rising in the region since Dec. 31, when the B.C. Supreme Court granted Coastal GasLink a permanent injunction allowing the company access to the pipeline route. Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs responded by evicting CGL from the area on Jan. 4 and closing the Morice forestry road, which leads to the pipeline construction site.

On Jan. 13, the RCMP created a checkpoint on the Morice road and limited access to the area.

The same day, Horgan told media the provincial government would not respond to the Wet’suwet’en requests for a meeting.

“This project is proceeding, and the rule of law needs to prevail in B.C.,” he said.

Olsen said Horgan’s position is troubling, especially as in November the legislature unanimously passed Bill 41, which commits the government to accept the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. That includes recognition of the right to participate in any decision-making through their own procedures and law.

“It’s problematic when you refer to the rule of law and Indigenous law is excluded from that,” Olsen said. “I think it’s pretty clear that the Canadian court system has recognized Indigenous law as part of the broader legal context in this country and in this province. We’re sitting in territory where the court decisions reference and explain the very, very sophisticated order that this territory has been governed by since time immemorial.”

“It’s more complex than… I think a lot of people on many sides of this discussion would like it to be,” he said. “There’s this idea that the more simple we can make it, the easier it is that we’re going to find a resolution. And the reality is, the more simple we make it, the less likely it is that we find a resolution.”

“I am here because I believe that we absolutely can find — all of us, all British Columbians, all Canadians — can find peaceful resolutions when we sit down at the table together, get to know everyone, build off the foundation with mutual respect,” Olsen said.

“When you look at this table, this is a grand table. This table represents a very, very sacred representation of what’s been happening in this part of the country for a long time.”

Olsen said his trip is consistent with the BC Greens’ approach to Indigenous concerns.

Olsen, a member of the Tsartlip First Nation, noted the party’s 2017 platform included a commitment to “respecting court decisions, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and to the resolution of Aboriginal Rights and Title issues.”

After the meeting Olsen travelled to the Morice forestry road, an hour’s drive from Smithers. He stopped at kilometre 27, where about a dozen Wet’suwet’en supporters have hastily erected a new camp to provide shelter to visitors just before the RCMP checkpoint controlling access to the pipeline route.

Olsen then passed through the checkpoint and travelled to a Wet’suwet’en camp farther along the road. He’s greeted by a crackling fire, a group of Wet’suwet’en supporters and Hereditary Chief Dsta’hyl of the Likhts’amisyu clan.

Dsta’hyl and Olsen exchange thoughts on resource management.

“I appreciate your words,” Dsta’hyl tells Olsen. “Our elders, they used to say, we should not be raping the Earth, we should be nurturing the Earth. We’ve been telling the government that for years and they don’t hear us.”steward

Olsen met with RCMP at the Smithers detachment Sunday and requested a peaceful resolution to the conflict. He said that officers are “put in an unfortunate situation” of enforcing a complex issue.

He was joined by federal Green Party MP Paul Manly, who arrived in Smithers Sunday and leaves today. SOURCE

RELATED:

UNDRIP Act Gives Horgan an Option in Wet’suwet’en Standoff. He Should Use It

‘Rule of law’ isn’t only B.C., Canadian law: Bellegarde

(Perry Bellegarde is national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. APTN file)

Perry Bellegarde is not happy with B.C. Premier John Horgan’s spin on the “rule of law.”

The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations said his members support the “governance and decision-making process of the Wet’suwet’en people. Canada and British Columbia must do the same.”

It’s the second time Bellegarde has involved himself in the pipeline dispute playing out in northern B.C.

Last January the national Indigenous leader told RCMP to stop their violent incursion on Wet’suwet’en traditional territory south of Houston, B.C.

Now Bellegarde said the “rule of law” cited by Horgan Monday as a reason Coastal GasLink construction should continue isn’t only Canadian law.

The “rule of law” includes honouring First Nations laws in their traditional territories,” Bellegarde told APTN News.

“The necessity of respecting those laws and traditions is further underlined by the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Right now, the federal government and BC government must meet with the Wet’suwet’en leadership and immediately work to resolve this matter through dialogue not violence.”

Horgan, whose NDP are in power thanks to a partnership with the B.C. Green Party, said adopting UNDRIP doesn’t give Indigenous opponents a veto over the multi-billion-dollar project to ship natural gas to foreign markets.

“I don’t understand why we’re having this conversation,” agreed Ellis Ross, a former Haisla chief in northern B.C. and now Liberal MLA.

Two types of law

“We don’t have two types of law…We can’t pick and choose which law we’re going to abide by today and just decide that, ‘OK, some certain groups of people can define their own laws.’”

But Kate Kempton, an Indigenous rights lawyer in Toronto, said Canada could absolutely have two parallel laws.

“Unless and until Crown governments recognize that or accept that a space needs to be carved out for an equal status Indigenous legal realm in Canada…you’re going to end up with a very imperfect and unfair set of answers.”

Kempton said New Zealand and Australia have made such a space.

“Suppose an Indigenous law was as applicable here as Canadian law. That would mean that Coastal GasLink would have to get a set of permits from the Crown government, but they’d also need a set of permits from the relevant Indigenous government.”

Kempton said Wet’suwet’en pipeline opponents are staring down colonial governments and corporations as part of Indigenous self-determination.

“What the Crown governments have to do instead of continuing to fund poverty, they need to find a way for real economic support in the trillions of dollars to go toward Indigenous governments to figure out for themselves how self-determination, self-governance is going to work.”

Then, instead of fighting each other in court or at barricades on the ground, Kempton said they would know “what is our government, who’s in it and who’s going to decide when there’s an external project within our Nation yes or no” – instead of elected versus hereditary versus Canadian.

“Right now, the support and structure isn’t there so you end up with this messy situation reflected in this case,” the lawyer added.

Watch Todd Lamirande’s story on the latest from Wet’suwet’en Territory

The ‘messy situation’ in B.C. has attracted the attention of  international and national civil and human rights groups.

The United Nations, Amnesty International, B.C. Human Rights Commission and B.C. Civil Liberties Association all released statements slamming the position of Canada’s elected politicians on Indigenous rights.

“All of your governments have recognized that significant shifts are required to move forward with reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and show full regard for their rights in the Constitution and under international law,” said Amnesty’s English and French secretaries general Alex Neve and France Isabelle-Langlois.

“If promises to do so are not met with concrete action, very much including tough and challenging decisions such as those required here, then the words remain empty.  That is the shameful history that Canada absolutely must leave behind.”

Ross, who supports the pipeline project and the jobs it offers Indigenous communities, was critical of the UN alleging Canada’s resource projects are racist.

“The UN is highly irresponsible in not talking to everybody to get a complete picture of what’s happening here in B.C. over the past 14 years,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

“They took one story out of B.C. and they figured that all the Aboriginals in B.C. are being trampled on and that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

In a replay of last January, RCMP took control of a section of unceded Wet’suwet’en Nation land Monday in what they termed a safety measure.

They are blocking traffic from moving in and out of the narrow Morice West Forest Service Road south of Houston that winds its way through snowy forest land to camps operated by the Gidimt’en and Unist’ot’en clans.

CGL claims camp members interfere with its ability to construct the pipeline and won an interlocutory injunction from a B.C. Supreme Court judge. It said it was up to the RCMP to enforce the injunction.

Preserve the safety

“Our duty is to preserve the safety of everyone involved in this dispute, and to prevent further contraventions to the BC Supreme Court ordered injunction,” said Dawn Roberts, in a release from B.C. RCMP.

“As a result, an access control checkpoint has been established at the 27 kilometer mark of the forestry road. The purpose is to mitigate safety concerns related to the hazardous items of fallen trees and tire piles with incendiary fluids along the roadway, as well as to allow emergency service access to the area.”

The felled trees and tire piles were discovered last week by CGL workers and reported to the RCMP.

“We remain committed to facilitating the ongoing dialogue between Indigenous communities, Coastal GasLink and Government, in the hopes that these efforts will result in a safe and peaceful outcome,” Roberts added in the release.

She said people allowed to pass the police checkpoint were:

-All hereditary and elected chiefs;

-Elected and other government officials;

-Journalists with accreditation from recognised media outlets;

-Persons providing food, medicine or other supplies or services required for the well-being and safety of persons behind the blockades;

-Other persons as approved by the RCMP operations commander or delegate.

“For purposes of safety, all persons entering must indicate their specific destination, estimated time of return and indicate their understanding of the hazards present. Vehicles and persons entering will be logged to ensure awareness of who has entered and safely exited. All other vehicles will be turned away,” the release added.

“All occupants of vehicles exiting the area who were not already spoken to on their way in will be briefly detained per paragraph 10 of the BC Supreme Court injunction, asked for identification, and provided a copy of the court order before they are permitted to go on their way.”

Meanwhile, the interim leader of the B.C. Green Party was not available for an interview Tuesday.

And the president of CGL again asked for a meeting with the hereditary chiefs.

“We believe that by working together, we can address the interests of the Office of the Wet’suwet’en while continuing to provide significant benefits to the Wet’suwet’en and other Indigenous communities,” David Pfeiffer said in a letter posted to the company’s website Tuesday.

The chiefs, who don’t want the pipeline on their unceded territory, were in meetings Tuesday. SOURCE

RCMP, let journalists witness Unist’ot’en Camp

Photo from Facebook page of Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidimt’en territory.

Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have fought for many years to keep three pipelines from running through their land in northern B.C. At stake, the protesters say, is their way of life, their culture and their system of governance which was recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in the landmark Delgamuukw decision in 1997.

I remember when the Wet’suwet’en first erected the Unist’ot’en Camp to uphold the clans’ decision to prevent Enbridge, Chevron and TransCanada from building pipelines on their unceded lands in 2010. Tensions rose as they built a blockade and confronted workers who attempted to cross it, saying they had no permission to be on their territory.

Last December, a report by the Guardian newspaper sent shock waves across Canada. The Guardian said it had uncovered documents showing that the RCMP discussed shooting Indigenous clan members and supporters, all in the service of gas and oil. “Notes from a strategy session for a militarized raid on ancestral lands of the Wet’suwet’en nation show that commanders of Canada’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), argued that “lethal overwatch is req’d” — a term for deploying an officer who is prepared to use lethal force.

Is this reconciliation? Hardly.

Is this making amends for residential schools, colonialization, the taking of lands and wealth? You bet it’s not.

Shockingly, a tweet from the Unist’ot’en Camp stated today the RCMP has blocked roads for 27 kilometers leading up to the site, barring media from witnessing and documenting their actions.

“We do not want to see a repeat of last year’s behaviour, when the RCMP used an exclusion zone to block journalists’ access, making it impossible to provide details on a police operation that was very much in the public interest,” Canadian Association of Journalists president Karyn Pugliese said in a tweet.

Pugliese has it right.

Even without the Guardian‘s report of the RCMP’s apparent willingness to use lethal force to remove people from the blockade, the RCMP should not be allowed to stop journalists from witnessing their actions.This is Horgan’s Scott Morrison moment. Like the Australia PM, Horgan is pushing fossil-fuel expansion in face of obviously dire climate change.

Now would be an excellent time for the B.C. Greens to show some backbone. Put Horgan’s govt on the line. If he proceeds against the Wet’suwet’en, dissolve the coalition. Force a new election.
As long as B.C. is going to follow neoliberal policies, the B.C. Liberals may as well be in power. But progressive voters must send a clear message to the NDP. We won’t accept this betrayal.

What have the Greens got to lose?

“Horgan says ‘rule of law applies,’ LNG pipeline will proceed despite protests” (Canadian Press: January 14, 2020)
A natural gas pipeline across northern British Columbia is vital to the region’s economic future and it will be built despite the objections of some Indigenous leaders, Premier John Horgan said Monday.
He said the courts have ruled in favour of the project and the RULE OF LAW will apply to ensure work continues on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which would start near Dawson Creek and extend to an export terminal at Kitimat.

Horgan told a news conference the project has received approval from 20 First Nations along the pipeline route.

“We want everyone to understand that there are agreements from the Peace Country to Kitimat with Indigenous communities that want to see economic activity and prosperity take place,” he said. “All the permits are in place for this project to proceed. This project is proceeding and the RULE OF LAW needs to prevail in B.C.”

Horgan’s government adopted legislation late last year to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It mandates the government to bring provincial laws and policies into harmony with the declaration’s aims of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

The UN declaration says Indigenous Peoples have the right to self-determination, which means they can determine their political status and pursue economic, social and cultural development. It requires governments to obtain “free and informed consent” from Indigenous groups before approving projects affecting their lands or resources.
BUT HORGAN SAYS THE DECLARATION DOESN’T APPLY TO THE COASTAL GASLINK PROJECT.

“Our document, our legislation, our declaration is FORWARD LOOKING,” he said. “It’s NOT RETROSPECTIVE. We believe it will open up opportunities not just for Indigenous people but for all British Columbians.”

https://calgaryherald.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-

The BC Civil Liberties Association stands with the Wet’suwet’en, too:
https://bccla.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2020-01-10-LT-RCMP-et-al-re…

Our wee co-op has also made such a statement:
http://ecoreality.org/wiki/Statement_in_support_of_the_Wet%27suwet%27en

Do you belong to a church group, charity, civic organization, or serve in local government? Your group is invited to do so, as well!
http://unistoten.camp/support-us/solidarity-statements/

This whole thing is wrong on so many different levels. The Wet’suwet’en is reporting that the RCMP is blocking shipments of food to their camps, during a bitter cold snap! “Starve them out” That thinking is so 1876. It is immoral.  SOURCE

RELATED:

Complaints filed against RCMP for blocking Wet’suwet’en access

B.C. Premier talks pipeline, Western separatism at economic summit

Horgan wonders why Albertans feel animosity toward federal government that bought a pipeline


Vancouver Island Economic Summit audience members listen to a speech from B.C. Premier John Horgan on Oct. 23 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. (Nicholas Pescod/NEWS BULLETIN)

B.C. Premier John Horgan says he can’t understand some of the reasoning behind separatist sentiment in Western Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s re-election.

“I understand the prime minister has said he is proceeding with Trans Mountain today,” Horgan said. “I have to scratch my head and say why is there such enormous animosity toward the federal Liberal government that bought the pipeline for the express purpose of getting it built?”

Horgan joined the Vancouver Island Economic Summit at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo via video conference Oct. 23. The premier’s comments were in response to a series of questions about Western separatism, whether British Columbia can maintain good relations with its neighbours and how can he continue to justify “blocking the primary export product” of Alberta if he supports Canadian unity.

Horgan said he is keenly aware of the opinions of many Albertans, explaining that his relationship with Alberta’s former NDP premier deteriorated over the pipeline issue.

“I had one of my dear friends, Rachel Notley, become just an acquaintance over time over this issue,” he said. “So I know on a personal level how passionate the Albertans feel.”

The premier pointed out that B.C.’s electoral map following the federal election is a mixture of blue, orange, red and green and not a “sea” of blue and later said that it is important to move beyond a “partisanship” mentality and focus on issues that matter to people. He also said he’s satisfied with the results of the federal election.

“I’m encouraged that there is a new and diverse, dynamic House of Commons that will be working together, as we have been doing here in Victoria, trying to get past the partisanship, which is fundamental to our electoral process but is not always in the best interest of our governance,” Horgan said.

When it comes to Alberta, Horgan said he has a “working relationship” with Premier Jason Kenny.

“He has been focused federally and his sights have been set on Ottawa, but I’m sure the time will come when he will be looking back at British Columbia.”

Currently, the Horgan government is appealing a recent B.C. Court of Appeal decision which ruled he cannot implement laws restricting the amount of bitumen flowing into the province, taking the argument to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Horgan explained to the audience that his position on Trans Mountain is well-known and the province is “legally obliged” to follow the directive from the National Energy Board.

“As the Trans Mountain pipeline proceeds, I will be issuing permits as instructed, I will not be obstructing for the sake of obstructing but I want to make sure I protect those things that are important to at least half the people in this room, if polls are correct,” Horgan said. SOURCE

RELATED:

Eric Denhoff: Why are Albertans so damned angry?

Ottawa, B.C. to push electrification of gas industry to cut carbon emissions


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen prior to making an announcement at BC Hydro Trades Training Centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August, 29, 2019. Photo by The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward

As part of an agreement announced Thursday, the two governments and BC Hydro are forming a committee to push projects that increase power transmission.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the agreement is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the natural gas industry, which produces about 18 per cent of the carbon pollution in the province.

“We’re taking another major step forward in the fight against climate change,” he said, adding that electrification will also create jobs.

B.C. Premier John Horgan joined Trudeau in making the announcement at a BC Hydro training centre in Surrey, saying the two governments are working to make the economy more environmentally sustainable.

Horgan said the agreement also takes advantage of BC Hydro’s ability to provide clean energy for industry in the province.

“Our governments are working collaboratively to electrify industries and reduce emissions as we put B.C. on a path to a cleaner, better future,” he said in a statement.

Environmental groups have criticized Horgan’s NDP government for its backing of the liquefied natural gas industry in B.C., arguing changes to the province’s tax structure and subsidies are helping a sector that increases carbon pollution.

The federal and provincial governments have boosted LNG Canada’s plans for a $40-billion project in Kitimat, which is expected to create 10,000 construction jobs and up to 950 permanent positions in the processing terminal on the coast of B.C.

Trudeau said Thursday’s agreement builds on that project.

The three-page agreement says $680 million in “near-term” electrification projects are being considered for possible funding.

B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver said the deal and the province’s financial commitment to it is a further subsidization of fossil fuel development, including for projects that have not yet been built.

“The NDP government is not only providing more subsidies for the growth of the fossil fuel sector but are also neglecting their responsibility to this province to be making the investments for an alternative future,” he said in a news release.

Weaver said he supports the electrification of industry, but it must go beyond providing help for the gas sector. MORE

Ecocide Law places Canadian politicians in jeopardy

“I began to realise that rights in isolation are not enough. If you have rights, there are corresponding duties and obligations – it’s like two sides of the coin. And what gives enforcement to your rights are the responsibilities that are put in place in criminal law.”— Polly Higgins

Image result for polly higgins

Polly Higgins, Earth’s lawyer, focused on making Ecocide the fifth crime against peace under the jurisdiction of  the International Criminal Court by 2020. Her untimely death has energized her followers to realize this goal.

Polly’s Ecocide act gives primacy of jurisdiction over national governments’ law. It also removes the defence of intent. Whether the intent of an action is to avoid ecocide is irrelevant.  The test is whether the principal actor knew or should have known that their actions would result in Ecocide.

The Ecocide Act focuses on bringing those with principal responsibility for acts of Ecocide, be they corporate directors, politicians, financiers, insurers or individuals, to justice for the destruction of our Earth. 

Several Canadian politicians could find themselves charged under this law.

Here are some possible future headlines: 

The International Criminal Court  charges Justin Trudeau with Ecocide

Image result for justin trudeau The Alberta tar sands and Ecocide are virtually synonymous. Using public money, Justin Trudeau has heavily subsidized  tar sands producers, ignoring the IPCC’s call to reduce climate-destroying emissions; he has encouraged the rapid  exploitation and expansion of Canada’s largest sacrifice zone; he has allowed the development of vast, toxic tailings ponds, ignoring their environmental legacy and threat to humanity and future generations; he has used public resources to buy a pipeline to triple tar sands bitumen transportation to offshore markets.

Trudeau’s defense,  that he was always protecting Canadian jobs, would be dismissed as irrelevant.

The International Criminal Court  charges Andrew Scheer with Ecocide

Image result for andrew scheer

Andrew Scheer is vulnerable to charges because he argues that Trudeau’s efforts to develop and exploit the tar sands are not happening fast enough. As a cheerleader for tar sands development as the lynchpin of the Canadian economy, Scheer would find himself vulnerable.

The International Criminal Court  charges Jason Kenney  with Ecocide

Image result for jason kenney

Jason Kenney’s boosterism of the Alberta tar sands puts him in legal jeopardy. His oil and gas subsidies, his removal of environmental safeguards, and the support for fracked natural gas with its huge environmental footprint and  its serious contamination of water, all can be cited as evidence of his willingness to prioritize Alberta’s economy over his duty to protect the public’s right to a healthy environment. 

The International Criminal Court  charges John Horgan with Ecocide

Image result for john horgan

Allowing construction to continue on the Site C Dam and the flooding of rich farmland to provide cheap electricity to carbon intensive natural gas fracking operations cannot reconciled with Horgan’s duty to protect the environment.  John Horgan has offered subsidies and tax breaks to B.C.’s single largest carbon polluter, LNG Canada.  LNG development is notoriously carbon intensive. The LNG Canada project would emit 8.6 megatonnes of carbon per year in 2030, rising to 9.6 megatonnes in 2050. Fracking is associated with massive water use (the average frack uses between five million and 100 million litres of water), radioactive waste, earthquakes, dangerous air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Health impacts were removed from the purview of the scientific panel tasked with reviewing fracking.  His support for the Coastal Gaslink pipeline development on Wet’suwet’en territory continues to ignore First Nations’ rights and their opposition.


Declare yourself an Earth Protector on the website here.

Premier Horgan walking a political tightrope on pipeline issue

“It has become quite clear the B.C. Greens will never take down this government.”

John Horgan
B.C. Premier John Horgan Photo BRENT BRAATEN, PRINCE GEORGE CITIZEN

Absolutely no one should be surprised that Attorney General David Eby was quick to declare the B.C. government will appeal the decisive court ruling against it over who controls what can flow through an interprovincial pipeline.

But the lack of emotion attached to his pronouncement was telling, another indication perhaps of the B.C. NDP’s chief desire that this issue just goes away, even with that pending appeal.

The NDP continues to walk a political tightrope on the pipeline expansion issue as it tries to placate environmental anti-pipeline activists within the party while at the same time declaring support for the resource industry.

The party has long said it would use “every tool in the toolbox” to fight the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, but as I have noted here before, the toolbox turned out to be a very small one containing a rather weak and tepid “tool.”

That tool was this court case, considered a bit of a Hail Mary pass pretty much from the start. The government provided no legal evidence that a province could control what is a federally regulated entity, i.e. an inter-provincial pipeline.

Nevertheless, the NDP had to do something – anything – to make it look like it was trying to block the pipeline. Environment Minister George Heyman sheepishly admitted early on upon taking office that there was absolutely nothing “legally” the government could do to stop its construction.

Hence, the rather novel court argument about jurisdiction over something the government had to live with. As expected, the B.C. Court of Appeal made short work of it, giving the argument a 5-0 drubbing.

Nevertheless, the NDP has to exhaust its legal options no matter how dim the prospects of ultimate victory are. It may all be a waste of tax dollars, but it is political capital that the NDP is more concerned about.

And an appeal will allow B.C. Premier John Horgan to be able to say, “I did what I could” to stop the pipeline and that will be the end of things.

Some environmental groups will be upset, but they were upset with the decisions to finish the Site C dam and woo the LNG industry into this province and that opposition mattered little at the end of the day.

Some have mistakenly thought that launching the appeal was designed to keep the B.C. Green Party in check to ensure it continues keeping the NDP in power. That is a misread of the reality that has emerged about the relationship between the two parties (for all their criticism and complaining, it has become quite clear the B.C. Greens will never take down this government). MORE