It is just a small spat in a vast world of conflict, but it’s been a long one. It started shortly after Alberta joined Confederation in 1905 and continues today. One hundred years ago Alberta in 1918 met in Ottawa with members of the new Confederation to discuss mineral rights and to whom they belong – the province in which they are located or the wider Canada, the State.
Usually Alberta and British Columbia have been on the same side fighting Ottawa for better resource sharing deals.Who can forget the 1980’s when Alberta lead the fight against Ottawa’s newest oil tax policies with the late Premier Ralph Clyne shouting “let the Eastern Bastards freeze.” Alberta’s current Premier Rachel Notley and BC’s John Horgan, both leaders of provincial New Democrats, follow different drummers with Notley allied to Ottawa and Horgan the lone hold out against the plan to twin the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific Coast at Vancouver.
The project has survived many scientific, environmental and engineering studies and has been approved by the National Energy Board, the federal government, Alberta and, in January 2017, by the then Liberal government of BC under the leadership of Christy Clark.
Clark won the election with one seat more than the NDP only to lose the right to govern when NDP leader John Horgan stepped forward with the signed assurance that Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, with two other newly elected Green MLAs, would give him a slim majority. Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon accepted Horgan’s proposal and he became Premier John Horgan.
Until a few weeks ago, Horgan was in harness with Weaver and implacably opposed to two Liberal mega job creation projects – Kinder Morgan and the massive BC Hydro Site C project in northern BC. In late January of this year Horgan announced his call for one last final, final, definitely final review of Site C by the BC Utilities Commission and then,reluctantly, admitted construction had already progressed beyond a point of no return and could not now be justifiably abandoned. Site C would proceed.
Weaver, who was at one time in favour of Site C as a clean energy project, shifted to the opposition as environmental protests grew. He became an objector and remains an objector, unhappy with Horgan’s decision but not unhappy enough to withdraw the support that keeps the NDP in power.
Both leaders now face much tougher decisions on Kinder Morgan, encouraged by thousands of environmental voices chanting their opposition – some vowing to lie down in front of bulldozers if construction ever begins, others boasting they are ready to go to jail for their cause.
But the masses forming to protest and the leaders jockeying for position to lead them, have a major problem. The federal government through Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has approved the pipeline. Premier Notley has repeatedly reminded Horgan, and his Green echo finder, of this constitutional fact – on issues like this Canada’s national rights take precedence.
Readers with good memories may recall my August 19, 2017 blog in which I wrote on this same subject: “When Canada became a country 150 years ago, our First Prime Minister John A. Macdonald told new Dominion of Canada statesmen: ‘Let us be English or let us be French – and above all else – let us be Canadian’”.
Not too many years ago, the people of Quebec wooed by many of their leading politicians were asked to make a decision on whether they wanted to remain Canadians or leave Confederation. The Quebecers proved to be Canadians first; our Confederation rejoiced.
Premier Horgan has said his aim is to get the best pipeline deal he can for British Columbia. That is an objective to be praised and supported as long he remembers, as should we all, to ‘above all else’ be Canadians.
Prime Minister Trudeau has said the approval of the project was the best option for all Canadians. “This is a decision based on rigorous debate, on science and evidence. We have not been and will not be swayed by political argument, be they local, or regional or national,” he said. “We have made this decision because we are convinced it is safe for BC, and it is the right one for Canada.”
Last Saturday, February 17, Premier Horgan announced his government would seek leave to appeal a National Energy Board (NEB) made December 7,2017, to allow construction work to commence at the Burnaby pipeline terminal.
If the appeal is granted construction will be delayed. If it is denied Premier Horgan’s always shaky supportive alliance with the Greens will collapse and BC voters will be back to the polls for a first election with taxpayers picking up the tab.
What taxpayer happiness to be able to look on a forest of election signs and slogans and know we paid for them.