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Kinder Morgan dispute is not a Constitutional Crisis 
Posted (2018-04-23)

David's Making Waves commentary for April 23rd:

So … a US oil exec snaps his fingers and Prime Minister Trudeau flies home to hold an emergency meeting with BC and Alberta. Wow. Kinda makes you wonder who’s running the country. This is not the Trudeau I remember. That Trudeau would have flipped the billionaire the bird and told him to sit down, be quiet and wait until he had ironed out the constitutional flap between BC and Alberta.
And it’s only that – a flap. Just because a pipeline is deemed a federal project when it crosses provincial boundaries doesn’t mean it guts a province’s obligation to protect its citizens’ health and environment.
Judging from previous spills of bitumen from the oil sands, BC has a right to be worried. Remember the Enbridge spill in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan? That spill cost a billion dollars to clean up; and the river is still contaminated. It’s impossible to get bitumen out of the environment.
Premier Horgan of BC had offered some solutions: refer the dispute to the Supreme Court. But that won’t happen in time for Kinder Morgan’s deadline of May 31st. He’s said he could live with refined bitumen as it would pose less of an environmental hazard.
What a concept. Taking a natural resource that we own and creating good jobs to add value before exporting it.
Naw … let’s just dig it up, pay the Texans their blackmail money, ship it out and let the next generation pick up the tab.
Making Waves, I’m David McLaren

A persuasive discussion David. But many experts think that any reference to the Supreme Court is redundant and just ragging the puck - ie wasting time. It is not up to Horgan to decide what form of bitumen flows through the pipe from one province through another. 

Having said that, I have “always” supported the economic and environmental benefits associated with refining in Alberta


Hi David,

Respect your position on this, and I think your MW piece is strong.

I think KM has put a gun to the government’s head because two national governments and multiple provincial have pussy-footed around this application for 5+ years.   They’ve played nice within the system and it leads nowhere.   Even First Nations are split on wanting it.

There comes a time when a for-profit company says “enough” and takes their investment dollars elsewhere.  Canadians need to get our act together!

Stan Didzbalis


Here are some interesting words from a constitutional lawyer – Jack Woodward – who drafted sec 35 of the 1982 Constitution …

“Since 1982, you also have the additional complexity of constitutional protection of aboriginal rights, which in some cases override either federal or provincial powers.  [Also] … Just because the federal government has jurisdiction over pipelines doesn’t mean that they can sterilize the provincial jurisdiction over health and safety. Similarly, protection of the land and marine environment, that’s pretty potent. The protection of habitat for fish, even preventing oil spills because of the devastating impact it would have on tourism — that’s valid provincial legislation.”

I suspect this is the advice Mr Trudeau got from his lawyers. So, no wonder he’s after legislation to assert federal jurisdiction over the pipeline, but I’m not sure he can do even that without opening the Constitution or inviting a court challenge. We are a ‘cooperative federation’ now and that means disputes have to be settled by debate and consensus.

Really interesting national debate.

David McLaren

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