Braid: Trans Mountain clears Horgan’s hurdles. Now he faces his own

Major religions urge us not to wallow in revenge. The Almighty, I hope, will grant an exemption for frustrations over the Trans Mountain pipeline.

It is vengeful fun, frankly, to watch B.C. Premier John Horgan pleading for “

the rule of law

” as he faces opposition to his own natural gas pipeline, just as the pipeline he tried to block finally escapes his efforts to undermine the rule of law.

Ever since this NDP premier was elected in 2017, he’s been hell-bent to kill Trans Mountain. It was actually a campaign promise.

Now, the hurdles he erected and encouraged are being cleared in the courts. But suddenly he faces the very forces he fomented.

The $40-billion LNG project, with its Coastal GasLink Pipeline,

will be built

despite First Nations objections, Horgan insists.

He’s frustrated with hereditary chiefs who object and blockade the LNG project. He points out that 20 First Nations along the route approve of the pipeline.

Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Trans Mountain has benefit agreements with more than 50 First Nations in Alberta and B.C. It, too, will bring economic benefits not just to Indigenous groups, but to B.C. itself.

Those arguments meant nothing to Horgan when Trans Mountain was at stake. Now they’re suddenly valid for his pet project.

 The development is part of the Coastal GasLink pipeline route to a liquefied natural gas project in Kitimat, B.C.

Any Albertan who cares about the economy has to hope the LNG project gets built. It will be a great benefit to Alberta producers.

But one can’t help wishing that Horgan squirms for a good long while. Maybe he could also ponder how much he helped the UCP defeat another NDP premier, Rachel Notley, who fought relentlessly for Trans Mountain.

On Tuesday, Trans Mountain

finally got clearance

from the Federal Court of Appeal, which found no merit in claims that First Nations had not been properly consulted.

On Jan. 16, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously, and almost contemptuously, dismissed B.C.’s argument that it could control the flow of Alberta bitumen through the pipeline.

That B.C. government case was a travesty from the start.

The provincial appeal court had already ruled unanimously against the government, but Horgan referred it to the Supreme Court anyway, thus ensuring more months of uncertainty.

By convention, the nation’s highest court must hear an official reference from a province. If any other party had tried that, the court probably would have declined to accept.

That case amounted to an abuse of process in order to stall a legitimate national project, in hopes it would just go away.


Kinder Morgan decided to do just that on Sept. 6, 2018, only days after the Federal Court of Appeal had pulled the project’s approval certificate.

That ruling had merit. Federal consultation with First Nations had been shabby and cursory, more a formality than a real effort to resolve issues.

The Trudeau Liberals were forced to buy the project for $4.5 billion in order to save it. That was entirely their fault.

But they also got serious about First Nations consultation. When they were done the second time around, cabinet again approved the project.

A group of First Nations that oppose the pipeline tried the same tactic one more time, claiming that consultation wasn’t adequate.

This time the Federal Court of Appeal was very clear.

First, the federal government, as owner, showed no signs of bias or conflict of interest. The consultations were serious and adequate.

The court also found instances of stalling by a First Nation that proved elusive when feds offered to consult. They kept demanding more material.

The court said, “Having all the elements in place for effective consultations without any time left for the actual consultations was not the proper course ….”

The ruling could once again be tiresomely appealed to the Supreme Court. Hopefully, the court will turn up its nose without a hearing.

Now Horgan has to endure some of the same frustrations he was so good at dishing out. Albertans can’t hope he loses, but we’re entitled to relish his annoyance.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Calgary Herald.




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