Premier Rachel Notley backs B.C.’s huge new liquid natural gas terminal, but there’s bitterness behind the smile.
Notley was irked by the sight of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan announcing the $40-billion LNG project Tuesday, with happy grins plastered on their faces.
“There is a high level of jaw-dropping hypocrisy that is being demonstrated through that process,” Notley said Wednesday.
She added her government supports the LNG Canada export terminal at Kitimat because “it’s going to mean jobs for engineers, it’s going to mean jobs for contractors, it’s going to ultimately mean more opportunities for drillers.”
That was the end of Notley’s good cheer.
She continued: “But I will say that when you look at the process there, and you look at the fact that the government of B.C. and the people who oppose the (Trans Mountain) pipeline are ‘okily dokily’ with 350 tankers coming out of a port with rougher waters that is more difficult to get to, that somehow we have a completely different standard when we’re looking at the TMX pipeline coming out of a much calmer port . . .
“I think Albertans can be forgiven for being extremely frustrated with the way the federation is working right now.”
Check out the Simpsons for the translation of “okily dokily.” Look to Ottawa for frustration.
On Wednesday, the feds announced that they won’t appeal the Aug. 30 Federal Court of Appeal decision that killed the pipeline approval and stopped construction.
Instead, they will plod on with Indigenous consultation and marine studies, as required by the Federal Court.
Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi didn’t set a deadline for the First Nations work. But it’s likely that Ottawa expects it to be done by next May.
Sohi has already given the National Energy Board 22 weeks to review the environmental effect of extra tankers.
After that, presumably, the NEB will issue a new permit. Then, the Trudeau cabinet will write a second enabling order and work will start again.
The Federal Court won’t come back into it until somebody appeals again. Which somebody will.
Notley is frustrated, although somewhat ambiguous, about the undefined delays.
“Our government does not agree with the decision of the federal government to not pursue an appeal of the original decision,” she said.
“We understand that pursuing an appeal is a longer-term path toward a solution. And we understand that the path that they are pursuing right now is the one likely to be more effective and faster.
“Nonetheless, until that path succeeds, as far as I’m concerned their job is to keep all options open.
“To put it another way, you don’t lock up your tool box when you haven’t finished the job, and the job’s not finished yet.”
In further evidence that “social licence” is collapsing, Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government suddenly announced Wednesday that the province will no longer impose its own carbon tax.
After a year of talks, Ottawa refuses to recognize the impact of provincial carbon reduction measures, said Premier Brian Pallister.
UCP Leader Jason Kenney blamed Notley for the whole pipeline mess, including the federal decision not to appeal.
“If our NDP government wanted to show that they mean business on the pipeline, then they would repeat what Premier Pallister in Manitoba did today and repeal the NDP carbon tax,” he said.
The Trudeau government has looked hard at options for speeding up the pipeline reboot, including an appeal to the Supreme Court.
The reason for refusing to appeal may be that it won’t work.
Dr. Nigel Bankes, natural resource and constitutional law expert at the University of Calgary, doubts that the high court would even hear the case.
He said the Federal Court of Appeal didn’t make new law with its decision, and the statute it considered will soon be replaced anyway, by the contentious Bill C-69.
In a draft blog post, Bankes also anticipates court delays of up to a year.
“In short, if the premier’s goal is to lift the cloud of uncertainty surrounding the future of the pipeline and get construction going, an appeal of the Federal Court’s decision hardly seems designed to produce the desired result.”
Trans Mountain is stuck for a good while yet. Instead, Albertans have back-row seats for construction of an all-B.C. megaproject.
Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald
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