Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday February 6, 2020
One step forward, another one back: What the Trans Mountain ruling means for Trudeau
In sports, you win some and you lose some. In politics, it’s possible to win and lose at the same time.
Take, for example, yesterday’s Federal Court of Appeal ruling on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
The court ruled unanimously that the federal government had fulfilled its duty to consult meaningfully with a handful of First Nations opposed to the project, clearing a major hurdle in the drawn-out battle to build a second line to carry bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to Burnaby on the B.C. coast.
The federal and Alberta governments immediately claimed victory, putting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Jason Kenney on the same side for once.
“This project is in the public interest,” federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan told reporters shortly after the decision was released.
“We also know that this is a project that can deliver significant economic benefit to Alberta, to Canadians across the country,” added Finance Minister Bill Morneau. “And more importantly, we are going to put that economic benefit back into the environment.”
Their sense of relief was palpable. Ottawa spent around $4.5 billion in 2018 to buy TMX — a last-ditch effort to ensure the pipeline would be built after its owner, Kinder Morgan, announced plans to step away.
That price, hefty as it is, doesn’t include construction costs or any overruns the project has incurred because of the various stop-work orders that have put construction well behind schedule.
But with the victory comes a major setback in relations with those Indigenous groups who continue to oppose the $7.4-billion project, and will no doubt seek to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“Reconciliation stopped today,” said Rueben George, of the Tsleil-Waututh, his voice cracking with emotion.
The band was one of four Indigenous groups behind the court challenge. It argued that the second, court-ordered round of consultations also failed to respond adequately to their concerns about the impact the project would have on marine life.
“This government is incapable of making sound decisions for our future generations,” George said. “So we will — even for their children — we will take those steps to make sure Canada stays the way it is.” (CBC)