Election result signals the need for continued grassroots activism

The interim House of Commons on January 16, 2019. Image: Leafsfan67/Wikimedia Commons

What are some of the observations that can be made about the results of this federal election from a grassroots activist perspective?

1. The electoral system is broken.

As we all know, the seat count would have looked very different under proportional representation. For instance, the NDP would have won 54 seats (rather than 24) and the Greens would have won 22 seats (rather than 3).

2. The Conservatives were stopped, but won the vote.

We’ll need to contend with the fact that the Conservatives beat the Liberals in terms of the popular share of the vote as well as winning almost 250,000 more votes than the Liberals.

3. It doesn’t spell the end of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Could the NDP and the Greens make cancelling the pipeline a condition of their support in the House? It doesn’t appear that way right now, plus as was pointed out by other observers, the Conservatives would likely back the Liberals in any vote that might come up in the House on this. We’ll need to be on the land to win this.

4. The SNC-Lavalin scandal isn’t going away.

Given that Jody Wilson-Raybould won her seat as an Independent and a minority government means the opposition parties control the standing committees (and call witnesses, etc.), this story is likely to continue.

5. Highs and lows.

It was great to see NDP candidate Leah Gazan elected in Manitoba and a new Green MP in New Brunswick. It was disappointing that Svend Robinson didn’t win in Burnaby and that (even had the NDP and Green votes been combined in Ottawa Centre) that Catherine McKenna still won even after she approved a tar sands pipeline.

6. Opportunities for a Green New Deal.

The outcome of the election doesn’t suggest that the stage has been set to win a bold Green New Deal, but hopefully the “balance of power” equation suggests we could maybe carve out a few important gains on this front, ideally pushing harder on the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies.

7. Colonial violence continues.

Just days before the election, Tiny House Warriors Kanahus Manuel and Isha Jules were arrested for defending Secwepemc territory against the Trans Mountain pipeline. Kanahus’ wrist was reportedly broken by the RCMP and she was transported 200 kilometres in the back of a police wagon without medical attention.

8. The average lifespan of a minority government.

The average lifespan of a minority government is generally 18 to 24 months. We’ll see how that pans out, but it is at least conceivable/likely that there will be another election within four years. How do we better prepare for that fight two years down the road as the climate crisis further intensifies?

In the meantime, here’s to continued activism!

As the great progressive Howard Zinn wrote, “Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.” SOURCE

What a Liberal minority government means for Canada’s environment

From the carbon tax to fossil fuel subsidies, here are eight things we can expect from a minority government

PM Trudeau arrives in Biarritz. August 22, 2019.

…The Liberals could work with either the NDP or the Bloc Quebecois (or some combination thereof) and remain in power.

Both the NDP and the Bloc have strong environmental platforms — arguably stronger than the Liberals — so if anything the Liberals can be expected to take a stronger stance on environmental issues.

There’s much we don’t know, but here are a few things we can reasonably expect to happen on the environment file.

1) The carbon tax will stay in place

An escalating price on carbon has been the cornerstone of the Liberals climate plan and they’ll have plenty of support to keep the carbon tax in place. The NDP also promised a carbon tax, but vowed to take it a step further by removing exemptions for heavy polluters.

Meanwhile, the Bloc Quebecois proposed that Ottawa impose a carbon tax in provinces where greenhouse gas emissions per capita are higher than average and that the proceeds be paid to provinces where emissions are lower, creating a form of green equalization. Trudeau will almost certainly be concerned about Albertan alienation, so he’ll avoid getting involved in that plan.

2) About those fossil fuel subsidies …

Back in 2015, the Liberals promised to phase out fossil fuel subsidies over the “medium term,” but Environmental Defence estimates the federal government is still handing out $3.3 billion a year to the fossil fuel industry. The NDP and the Bloc Quebecois campaigned on a promise to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, a policy that enjoys tremendous public support. Could they use their newfound power to push for this phase out to start sooner rather than later?

3) The Trans Mountain pipeline debate is unlikely to be re-opened in Parliament, unless …

While many of the opposition parties might want to re-open this debate, it’s hard to see an opening for them to do so given the pipeline is already approved. Even if the NDP, Greens and Bloc Quebecois wanted to force a confidence vote on it, the Conservatives would side with the Liberals on this one.

However, the Liberals still need to find $10 to $15 billion to build the pipeline.

“The public financing of the project does seem to present a bit of a pickle,” said Kai Nagata of Dogwood, a B.C. democracy group. “It doesn’t seem likely the NDP/Bloc/Greens could vote for a budget with pipeline construction funds, but the Conservative party probably couldn’t stomach voting for everything else.”

Nagata added: “Even the Conservatives should be philosophically uncomfortable with borrowing money, in a deficit, to spend on corporate welfare.”

4) Buh-buy single-use plastics

The Liberals promised to start phasing out single-use plastics starting around 2021. The NDP, meanwhile, wants to intensify that approach by straight-up banning single-use plastics by 2022. Any which way, single-use plastics such as bags and straws are likely going the way of the dodo.

5) Full steam ahead on conservation

The Trudeau government has made significant progress toward meeting its Aichi Biodiversity targets: it pledged to protect at least 17 per cent of terrestrial area and inland waters, and 10 per cent of its oceans, by 2020. A flurry of big new protected areas has moved that along.

The Liberals have also committed to conserving 25 per cent of Canada’s land, freshwater and ocean by 2025 and to working toward conserving 30 per cent by 2030. They also plan to advocate for countries around the world to set a 30 per cent conservation goal.

Additionally, the Liberals have identified the opportunity to reduce emissions by 30 megatonnes by 2030 using natural climate solutions that support efforts to better manage, conserve and restore forests, grasslands, agricultural lands, wetlands and coastal areas — as well ad by planting two billion trees.

The NDP and Greens have also committed to the goal of conserving 30 per cent of land, freshwater and oceans by 2030.

So, watch for more Indigenous protected areasnational parks and marine protected areas.

6) Expect more electric vehicles

The Liberals have set a target of 30 per cent of all light-duty vehicles on the road being electric by 2030. The Bloc Quebecois also support measures to require manufacturers to sell more electric vehicles. And the NDP support maintaining the $5,000 federal incentive for electric vehicle purchases while eliminating federal sales tax on them. One way or another, electric vehicle incentives are here to stay.

7) A lot of Albertans are going to be outraged

With Conservatives winning a higher percentage of the popular vote than the Liberals nationwide, and winning every seat in Alberta and Saskatchewan except for one, Westerners are rightly going to be upset about ending up with so little say in Ottawa. How that will manifest is yet to be seen, but I’d wager a bet it ain’t gonna be pretty.

8) Will electoral reform have its moment in the sun?

The NDP and Greens have long supported a move to proportional representation — an electoral system that would ensure the allocation of seats is more in line with the popular vote than our current first-past-the-post system. With the Conservatives being the latest losers under the first-past-the-post system, one has to wonder if there might be a cross-party push for a referendum on modernizing our electoral system.

Much more will become clear over the coming weeks and months, but for now what we know is that the Liberals will have to work with some combination of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois — and that means that if anything, they’ll have a stronger mandate to take bold action on the climate crisis.

The Problematic Legal Tools Party Leaders Would Use To Build Pipelines

Declaratory powers, constitutional powers and rule of law can be used to push projects through in the national interest.

Steel pipe to be used in the oil pipeline construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in Kamloops,...
Steel pipe to be used in the oil pipeline construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in Kamloops, B.C. on May 29, 2018.  DENNIS OWEN / REUTERS

Many Canadians can recall the $4.5-billion Trans Mountain pipeline that Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau’s government purchased in what appeared to be a last-ditch effort to save the expansion project from B.C. opposition. What those living outside Alberta may forget is that Trudeau’s government also cancelled the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline at an expense of nearly $15 million.

It was this Northern Gateway Pipeline, that would have stretched across the northern part of the Alberta-British Columbia border, that Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer invoked during the first MacLean’s/CityTV leadership debate. When the debate focused on Conservative senators’ attempts to kill C-262, which opposition view as giving Indigenous communities the final say on resource projects, Scheer said, “We cannot create a system in this country where one group of individuals, one Indigenous community, can hold hostage large projects that employ so many Indigenous Canadians.”

It’s telling that the “one group” Scheer singles out are Indigenous communities opposing pipeline projects. These conversations about energy and pipelines, and who decides how, when and where they get built, highlight the need for clarity about the federal government’s constitutional powers to push projects through.

Constitutional powers and rule of law

You’ll often see terms like “declaratory powers,” “constitutional powers” or “rule of law” thrown around by politicians like Trudeau, Scheer and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. Confusing at best, all three fall under the heading of constitutional law, but look or operate differently. They are legal tools that could potentially allow federal or provincial governments alike to rely on the vague concept of the public interest (sometimes a purely economic test) when companies seek approval for projects.

In the context of resource projects, the outcome is that the rights of groups directly impacted by the thousands of kilometres of pipelines running or planned across our country are ignored as politicians seek to assert their jurisdiction over an issue. This jurisdiction that political leaders refer to is found in Canada’s Constitution, section 92(10).

Justin Trudeau  @JustinTrudeau

Canada is a country of the rule of law, and the federal government will act in the national interest. Access to world markets for Canadian resources is a core national interest. The Trans Mountain expansion will be built. https://twitter.com/jimcarr_wpg/status/983109315958484992 

Jim Carr @jimcarr_wpg

See my statement regarding the Trans Mountain Expansion. https://www.canada.ca/en/natural-resources-canada/news/2018/04/minister-carr-issues-statement-regarding-trans-mountain-expansion.html 

Relying on their declaratory powers, the federal government may use legislation to declare specific works as being to the general advantage of Canada — particularly when there is uncertainty over infrastructure or networks, or the interprovincial works have an international component or connection. Canada’s constitution provides that Parliament can exercise its declaratory power over works, like pipelines, that extend beyond a province’s boundaries or connect with another province. This can prevent a province declaring its jurisdiction over a pipeline, possibly providing some certainty over the project.

Indigenous groups and others demonstrate against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline project...
Indigenous groups and others demonstrate against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline project in Burnaby, B.C. on March 10, 2018. JASON REDMOND VIA GETTY IMAGES

While the federal government is free to declare a pipeline such as the Trans Mountain expansion under its declaratory powers, the remainder of the Constitution does not fade away. Other sections in the Constitution include Canada’s duty to consult and accommodate, or Section 35. To non-Indigenous Canadians and politicians, the duty to consult and accommodate may be seen as a barrier to completing projects. In theory, this shouldn’t be the case if relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups, including companies, are built meaningfully before projects are granted approval from their respective regulators.

The federal government is using declaratory power to sidestep its duty to consult.

The federal government might desire jurisdiction over a pipeline, relying on its declaratory powers, because there is some international component with some integral element involving an interprovincial work. This would be similar to the Trans Mountain Pipeline connecting Canada’s products to an international market, together with the pipeline’s interprovincial infrastructure. Yet, the rule of law says that no one is above the law. One power seems to operate at the bidding of another.

Sometimes, declaratory powers are confused with the rule of law, chiefly when talking about pipelines. Political leaders may cite the rule of law to say that no group, like those Scheer refers to, is above the law — opposing groups must fall in line with the federal government’s objective to complete a work. At the same time, the federal government is using declaratory power to sidestep its duty to consult, a law which applies to everyone.

Indigenous consent is nuanced and necessary

Indigenous peoples and communities are best suited for understanding their communities’ needs, but often left out when it comes to resource projects. They want a seat at the table. Consent is key. MORE

 

Burnaby joins B.C.’s appeal for oil flow restriction powers

B.C. Court of Appeal ruled against the province in May. B.C. taking appeal to Supreme Court of Canada

westridge tanker
A tanker at Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby.
Photograph By TRANS MOUNTAIN

The Supreme Court of Canada has granted the City of Burnaby permission to take part in B.C.’s upcoming challenge of the B.C. Court of Appeal ruling that found the province did not have the authority to stop the flow of Albertan crude oil through the Trans Mountain pipeline.

In a unanimous May 24 decision, the court’s five judges ruled the province’s amendments to the Environmental Management Act that would have granted it the power to restrict the flow of diluted bitumen (also known as dilbit) were aimed at the proposed expansion of the pipeline.

At the time, the NDP government’s attorney general, David Eby, vowed to appeal the ruling to the country’s highest court. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the appeal on Jan. 16, 2020.

Now, the City of Burnaby has been granted leave to intervene in the case.

“This court case will allow Burnaby and other governments, First Nations and non-government organizations – all committed to protecting our shared environment and communities – to again demonstrate the critical need for new regulations that address critical environmental protection and public health issues,” Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley said in a statement. SOURCE

Portions of a fire safety audit of the Trans Mountain pipeline were rejected by Canada’s pipeline regulator

An aerial view of the Trans Mountain marine terminal, in Burnaby, B.C., from May 2018.

VANCOUVER—As dark smoke billowed from a major fire at a petroleum storage facility in California on Tuesday, a newly released audit had some questioning whether the fire-safety measures in place along the Trans Mountain pipeline are enough to prevent a similar scene from playing out in Canada.

Canada’s pipeline regulator released a 2016 audit by the consultancy PLC Fire Safety Solutions last week — almost three years after it was completed. It found that three Trans Mountain petroleum storage facilities had failed in some cases to meet “industry best practices.”

The report “was shocking,” said NDP candidate Svend Robinson, who is running in the riding of Burnaby North-Seymour. He was the one who requested the audit be released to the public through access to information laws in June.

A fire broke out at NuStar Energy LP facility in Crockett, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. The Contra Costa Health Department posted on Twitter that there was a "hazardous materials emergency" in the towns of Crockett, and Rodeo. The department urged residents to stay inside and close all windows and doors. In B.C. environmentalists say the incident in California underscores the risks of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Now, having read the report, he said it has “raised very serious concerns about safety and security at the existing tank farm.”

PLC was contracted by the National Energy Board, now known as the Canada Energy Regulator, to assess the fire protection systems at three storage facilities for oil and other petroleum products: the Westridge Marine Terminal, the Burnaby Terminal, and the Edmonton Terminal.

The PLC audit concluded that all three locations were generally compliant with the “applicable regulations, codes and standards.” But in some cases, PLC found that Trans Mountain’s fire protection systems failed to meet “industry best practices.”

The regulator took issue with PLC assessing the sites based on industry-best practices. It rejected portions of the findings in part because PLC did not limit its assessment to regulatory requirements, which can be different than best practices.

According to Robinson, holding Trans Mountain accountable to the regulatory requirements, but not best practices shows “contempt for the community”

“Doesn’t this company — which is now owned by tax payers — don’t they have an obligation to make sure that they meet the best practices to ensure safety of people in the community? Of course they do,” he said of the company, which became a Crown corporation in 2018, when the federal government purchased it from Kinder Morgan.

In a statement Tuesday, Trans Mountain said its “facilities are designed and operated to industry best practices and meet the most stringent safety standards.”

The company, which is regularly audited by the Canada Energy Regulator, said it “addressed the potential deficiencies identified by the PLC report and no new areas of non-compliance have been identified.”

But in late 2016, PLC had determined there were “design features or components” of the fire suppression systems — including aspects of the fire pumps, foam systems, and fire detection systems — that did not meet fire protection standards at the Burnaby and Westridge Marine terminals.

At the time, Trans Mountain’s Emergency Management Program stated that in the event of a fire at the tank farm, it would have eight emergency responders on site within six hours.

Since then, the Canada Energy Regulator has directed Trans Mountain to get its response time down to four hours, but the PLC report indicates that best practice is a response time of 30 minutes.

“That makes sense,” said Robinson. “If you’ve got a major fire in a tank farm, why would you wait four hours? MORE

 

Why Trudeau’s Trans Mountain Dreams May Trickle Out in Coldwater

IN DEPTH: A tiny Indigenous band’s epic pipeline fight takes its biggest turn.

ChiefLeeSpahan.jpg
‘Nobody respects us,’ says Coldwater Chief Lee Spahan, his band having filed a new challenge to the TMX project he says has long trespassed his people’s territory. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

On the Friday evening of June 7, Chief Lee Spahan of the Coldwater Indian Band received an email from Mitchell Taylor, Q.C., head of a federal consultation team acting under the auspices of Canada’s Department of Justice.

The email contained an offer, and an assertion.

The offer was that the government would take a new approach to deciding where the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) pipeline would be routed in relation to the Coldwater reserve, whose people are determined to protect the freshwater aquifer upon which they depend.

That issue had remained wholly unresolved after four years of negotiations, court judgments in favour of the Coldwater’s position, countless hours of consultations, and many hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on futile wrangling.

The stakes were high for the Coldwater, for the TMX, and for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had placed a heavy political bet on using taxpayer’s money to buy the pipeline and guaranteeing its expansion would happen. Last year, the Federal Court of Appeal threw out TMX’s permit to proceed, demanding more rounds of consultation with the Coldwater and other Indigenous nations in the path of the pipeline.

Now, with the new offer came this assertion: “Canada believes this commitment satisfies what we understand to be your key concerns.”

But Taylor’s offer did not begin to satisfy the key concerns of the Coldwater. In fact, in their view, it only put their precious aquifer further at risk, and once again failed to seriously evaluate a solution they’d been proposing for years.

The band was asked to respond to the government’s offer by June 12 — in just three business days. What had been a plodding process suddenly was moving fast. In fact, just 11 days after the emailed offer arrived in Spahan’s inbox, the federal government would announce (again) its approval of TMX, claiming in the process that it had done everything required of it to consult and accommodate Indigenous communities like Coldwater.

On Sept. 11, Trudeau asked the Governor General to dissolve the current parliament. That day he flew to Vancouver to start his bid for re-election with a speech that did not mention Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

The Coldwater Indian Band were busy too. That same day, they filed a Notice of Application in the Federal Court of Appeal that may hand pipeline opponents the keys to locking the project shut for good — or least spannering the works for months, if not years. MORE

 

Trans Mountain and the Honour of the Crown: Indigenous legal challenges, round two

First Nations announce a new round of TMX legal challenges (Photo: Eugene Kung)

August 21, 2019

The federal cabinet’s re-approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Tanker Expansion Project (“TMX” or “the Project”) on June 18, 2019 was hardly shocking news. After all, federal cabinet ministers have been saying for years that ‘the pipeline will be built.’ They even spent $4.5 billion of public money to bail out the project when pipeline company Kinder Morgan decided to abandon it.

The only surprises – sad ironies really – were the fact that the approval came just hours after the federal government declared a climate emergency, and the Prime Minister’s paradoxical definition of free, prior and informed consent as described in the press conference following the approval.

Predictably, the second round of approval faces a second round of legal challenges. According to the Federal Court of Appeal Registry, twelve parties have applied for leave to judicially review the cabinet approval, including eight First Nations, two environmental groups, the City of Vancouver, and a collective of youth climate strikers.

In the first round of lawsuits, six First Nations, environmental groups and municipal governments challenged the original 2016 approval at the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA), and won a decisive victory in August 2018 (the Tsleil-Waututh case). That decision quashed the approvals, and sent the Project back for a redo of the National Energy Board review and constitutionally-required consultation with impacted Indigenous peoples.

We have reviewed thousands of pages of legal documents to provide the following highlights from the applications to the court. In this post, we’ll start by reviewing the timeline of events since the Tsleil-Waututhdecision and provide an overview of the law on consultation. Next, we highlight some of the overlapping key arguments from the eight First Nations Applicants, followed by a few specific examples from each Nations’ pleadings, starting from the west and heading east.

MORE

First Nations renew court battle to stop Trudeau and Trans Mountain


Members of Tsleil-Waututh Nation gather around, with lawyer Merle Alexander, Tsleil-Waututh Chief Leah George-Wilson and Skeetchestn Indian Band Kukpi7 Ron Ignace at centre front row in Vancouver, B.C., on July 9, 2019. Photo by Stephanie Wood

First Nations have taken their first step to bring the federal government back to court over its approval of the Trans Mountain expansion project.

Six First Nations, including Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band, announced today they have officially petitioned the Federal Court of Appeal to review Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s second approval of the pipeline.

Chief Leah George-Wilson of Tsleil-Waututh Nation said Canada was “not responsive” to concerns that came up during the consultation process, including those relating to the risks and costs of an oil spill, the impacts on southern resident killer whales and encroaching on Indigenous rights and title.

“Tsleil-Waututh participated in the consultation in good faith, again. But it was clear that Canada had already made up their mind as the owners of the project,” she said. “We have no choice but to appeal again, and we expect the same result: that the approval will be overturned.”

The nation will also argue that the government’s $4.5-billion purchase of the west coast pipeline system created a conflict of interest.

“Canada is biased. The federal government is in a conflict of interest as the owner, the regulator and enforcer, as well as the fiduciary for First Nations,” George-Wilson said.

Under Canada’s Constitution, federal government has a legal duty to consult First Nations on decisions that could affect their rights or way of life. But the Trudeau government failed to do this the last time it tried to approve the pipeline in November 2016.

As National Observer reported in April 2018, government insiders say senior public servants privately ordered them to find a way to approve the project before Trudeau announced his decision, despite telling Indigenous leaders the government was still consulting them. MORE

Mythical oil markets, shovels in the ground. Debunking Trudeau’s claims on the Trans Mountain Pipeline approval


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a photograph by Alex Tétreault

From Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claims that Canada needs the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to reach new oil markets in Asia (they’re mythical!) to his statement that there will be “shovels in the ground” this summer (the pipeline route isn’t approved!), here are the claims worthy of debunking from Trudeau’s pipeline approval speech.

“We see [the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion] as critically important in ensuring that we have access to international markets.”

Some economists have questioned Trudeau’s claims that expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline would help Canada reach new oil markets in Asia, instead of simply expanding into existing U.S. markets in California and Washington. Canada already has the ability to ship oilsands crude to Asia via the existing pipeline.

At the same time, the world is swimming in lighter crude oil that’s easier to refine.

According to a 2018 Greenpeace report, over the last five years, two-thirds of tankers loaded with crude oil from the existing Trans Mountain pipeline went to California. And a spur of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline — called the Puget Sound Pipeline — splits into two destinations in Washington state, supplying U.S. refineries.

But U.S. opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline is heating up, with legislation on oil spill prevention and oil spill cleanup regulations for heavy crude oil either already on the books in Washington, or proposed in California. In Washington, a group of mayors, city and county council members, and state senators sent a letter to the state environment department expressing their concerns over heavy oil spills from the Trans Mountain pipeline. In California, community opposition is growing for a refinery expansion proposal that would allow one refinery to be able to process oilsands, which could lead to a tenfold increase in the amount of oilsands processed in the Bay Area.

“Every dollar the federal government earns from this project will be invested in Canada’s clean energy transition.”

Forget about one cent from the pipeline going to fund any clean energy projects, unless the federal government can find a buyer to take on this risky project. MORE

No business case for TMX, says former Liberal environment minister

‘No credible evidence’ to suggest Asia will be a reliable market for bitumen, David Anderson says


The federal cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline by Tuesday. (John Gibson/CBC)

A former Liberal environment minister is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet to reject the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, arguing there is no economic basis for the project.

David Anderson, who served 10 years in the cabinets of prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, sent letters to six members of Trudeau’s cabinet this week asking them to dismiss the pipeline proposal.

“There is no credible evidence to suggest that Asia is likely to be a reliable or a significant market for Alberta bitumen,” Anderson wrote in the letter dated June 11.

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday. Given Trudeau’s government bought the pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion, it’s widely anticipated to give it the green light.

Anderson holds a law degree and served eight of his 10 years in cabinet as the senior federal minister for British Columbia. While he was environment minister in 2002, Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. He is now an honorary director of West Coast Environmental Law and has previously spoken out against the Trans Mountain project.

His letter doesn’t focus on the climate and environmental impacts of the expansion. Instead, he took aim at the economic argument for the project, which he described as the “perceived need for a pipeline connection with tidewater in order to sell Alberta bitumen in Asian markets, where, so it is claimed, it would find new purchasers.”

Building a new pipeline will not change the market.– David Anderson, former federal environment minister


David Anderson is pictured behind then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien in the House of Commons on Nov. 6, 2003. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

“With respect, you and other government ministers have yet to provide evidence in support of that hope,” he wrote.

Anderson wrote that Asian refineries have better supply options than Alberta. Compared with conventional light and medium crude oil from Nigeria and the Middle East, Alberta bitumen is expensive to produce, hard to handle and provides no security of supply advantages, he said.

Further, he said despite access to tidewater through unused pipeline capacity in the existing system and through American Gulf of Mexico ports, Alberta’s bitumen has not found or developed any significant offshore market in Asia or anywhere else. MORE