CP rail line in Fraser Canyon. CP and CN both follow the canyon and Fraser Valley. Lack of pipeline capacity means more than 100 rail cars a week carrying Alberta diluted bitumen to Washington state refineries. (Wikimedia Commons)

B.C. VIEWS: Pipeline theatre on TV and in court

John Horgan doesn’t have a hope on Trans Mountain, and he knows it

Not since Glen Clark tried to take on the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet has B.C. seen such a flamboyantly hopeless effort as Premier John Horgan’s anti-pipeline theatre.

Inserting himself into a fisheries dispute between Canada and the U.S. in 1999, then-premier Clark tried to ban U.S. subs from using the provincially owned Nanoose Bay torpedo testing range off Vancouver Island. In response, then-prime minister Jean Chretien expropriated the area, returning it a couple of years later after the B.C. NDP was reduced to two seats and the province came under adult supervision.

Horgan’s on a similar path.

“We’re in court, we’re going to stay in court,” Horgan said as he prepared to fly to Ottawa to meet Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday.

Yes, they’re in court, barely. Last summer, the newly minted NDP government sneaked in as an “intervener” in the latest challenge of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Horgan’s chosen lawyer, Tom Berger, got grudging approval from the Federal Court of Appeal.

The case is a combination of several brought by the usual environmental groups and dissident aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities, unconcerned about the dozens of communities that want the project. As Notley likes to remind Horgan, it’s the 15th case against the federal approval of Trans Mountain, and the score is 0-14.

In granting intervener status last August, Justice David Stratas warned B.C. that it can’t bring new evidence, and if it plays politics it will be booted out. Stratas rebuked the province for taking five weeks to get its case together, and even then, it didn’t spell out what arguments it wants to make.

The province, meaning Horgan and Berger, “does not appear to understand the basic ground rules of the complex proceeding it is seeking to enter,” the judge wrote. Ouch.

Berger is best known for taking years to grind the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline to a halt back in the 1970s, and for a brief stint as B.C. NDP leader. Perhaps bringing him out of retirement at age 84 wasn’t the best idea.

Horgan’s team has also hired the NDP’s current go-to lawyer, Joe Arvay, to cook up a court reference question. So far he hasn’t even figured out which level of court to take it to. If and when he does, it could be a year or more before it’s heard.

The reference case was Horgan’s hasty fall-back position after Environment Minister George Heyman triggered a trade war with Alberta by announcing a plan to restrict diluted bitumen transport in B.C. Heyman still insists he can do this, including restrictions on oil by rail, another federal jurisdiction.

Washington state’s ecology department reports that rail shipments of Alberta heavy crude to its refineries have been rising since they started in 2012. As of 2017, a typical week would see 80 to 120 diluted bitumen rail cars rolling down the Fraser Canyon to Bellingham.

This is the practical effect of NDP and B.C. Green support for the U.S.-backed protest “hive” that targets pipeline projects across Canada. Oil is moving onto riskier trains, refining continues in the U.S. and increasingly expensive gasoline and diesel are sold back into B.C.

Opposition MLAs have been trying to pin Heyman down on how far he will go to stop the pipeline. He finally admitted that as soon as the NDP took office, lawyers told them they have no chance and should not even say publicly that they are trying.

All this sound and fury signifies nothing.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca

@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fees ensure patients have access to parking at SMH, FHA says

Fraser Health Authority hasn’t heard yet from city hall about pay parking at Surrey hospital

Surrey memories: How the ‘IGUISBCSIR’ Facebook page became a hub for anecdotal history

Former Whalley resident Wes Mussato launched the group in 2011, 11 years after he’d moved to Ontario

OUR VIEW: Fraser Health should park the Surrey Memorial Hospital parking fees

On Monday, city council approved free parking, for two hours at a time, on the streets around SMH

UPDATE: Surrey RCMP say missing 17-year-old girl located

Police say Rachel Friend was last seen at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 19, near the 14900-block of 81A Avenue

Three-team trade brings another goalie into Surrey Eagles’ nest

BCHL team ships Chase Stevenson to Trail and acquires blue-liner, goalie

VIDEO: Two officers of B.C. Legislature escorted out amid investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Shirtless stranger loomed over couch and started stabbing, bloody B.C. murder trial hears

Colin John pleads not guilty as trial opens in 2016 Chemainus murder case

Late 2019 too long to wait for ridesharing: B.C. Conservatives

“While the rest of the world is embracing this transportation revolution, B.C. is only now staggering slowly toward legislation on a business model that’s been mainstreamed for over a decade in other jurisdictions.”

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

ICBC warns shoppers of the high-accident season at mall parking lots

Over 150,000 accidents happened during the holiday season last year

No deal in sight: Canada Post warns of delivery delays into January

Union holds fifth week of rotating strikes as both sides remain apart on contract negotiations

COLUMN: Higher interest rates will slow B.C. economy after ‘unusually robust’ show

Jock Finlayson is executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Business Council of BC

Jason Aldean, Old Dominion to headline Merritt’s Rockin’ River concerts next summer

Four-day music festival at Coldwater River from Aug. 1 to 4

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Most Read