Trying to push British Columbians around won’t get Notley and Trudeau the pipeline they want — and neither will anything else
When England’s Model Parliament was first called in 1295, King Edward the First wrote a writ of summons calling for citizens across the land to join him. On the note it said “what touches all, should be approved of all”.
Apparently back then the purpose of gathering the aristocracy, clergy men and landowners was to help drum up much needed tax money for war, but it also brought about a rare opportunity to air grievances straight to the king.
When I hear the phrase “what touches all, should be approved of all” now, I am reminded of our own leadership’s more recent decree “only communities grant permission.” The Westminster system was built on a foundation of citizen consultation and consent, but Ottawa has veered so incredibly far from that in so many ways — and Kinder Morgan’s pipeline and tanker expansion is a perfect example of this.
What do you mean “national interest”?
Look, the average person in Alberta and B.C. aren’t having an awesome time economically. But to put the interests of one province over another is wholly unfair. The cost of groceries, buying or renting a home and the average income in Alberta all fare better than what we have here in B.C. Yet everyday we have Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Trudeau sounding the alarm, positioning B.C. as the kid on the playground who won’t share their ball with Alberta. If you ask them, building another pipe from the oil sands to the West Coast is the only way to ensure a sustainable future for us all. I’d like to see their napkin math doodles on that one.
So what’s up with that? Why is Trudeau enlisting creative math in his argument, and doubling down on a company from Texas rather than standing up for B.C.? From what I can surmise, it’s another case of a self-interested politician trying to override First Nations’ rights and title — the very thing he campaigned to honour before becoming Prime Minister — not to mention Canadian citizens’ rights to health and safety, in the interest of protecting his power and, ahem, his legacy.
Trudeau needs Notley to stay in power. If she loses the next election, our Prime Minister will be forced to deal with a combative Harper-era conservative, maybe even anti-gay, fear mongering Jason Kenney. And a leader like Kenney is not going to sign onto Trudeau’s precious carbon plan with a smile the way Notley has. No, under different leadership, Alberta could join the ranks of Saskatchewan and upturn the entire carbon pricing apple cart, leaving the jewel of Trudeau’s first (and last?) term in office on the floor covered in prairie dust.
Trudeau needs Notley to stay Premier of Alberta, and to do that, together they need to keep oil and gas happy. Enter Kinder Morgan.
If you need B.C., we’ll be under the bus
When I hear the “national interest” narrative being touted, all I hear is: “B.C. be damned!” Nevermind that one of the largest economic drivers in B.C. is our tourism market (to the tune of $7 billion per year), and that B.C. is known the world over for pristine wildlife. Don’t worry that our housing prices have skyrocketed and that middle class families are struggling to buy food and pay for childcare. A pipeline is the answer for the nation! A pipeline that would provide fewer permanent jobs than an understaffed Home Depot! Hooray, hooray for the magical pipeline!
Give me a freakin’ break.
It’s pretty clear what’s going on here: politicians playing games with one another to keep themselves in positions of power by, fingers crossed, convincing voters to re-elect them by pinning false hopes on a pipeline.
But the game isn’t being played well from where we sit. B.C. has more federal seats for the Liberals to lose in 2019 than Alberta does, not to mention the seat loss they could suffer if Quebec takes up for us in what to them will feel like a familiar fight, and in Ontario among the Liberals’ base when they see how badly Trudeau has trampled First Nation rights. So putting muscle behind Alberta’s measly four seats is…weird. Maybe Trudeau thinks B.C. will forget his broken promises and backroom dealings that left us withering on the vine?
Bad move, Justin. We won’t.
B.C. does not approve
The people who would be most impacted by Kinder Morgan’s expansion — First Nations and British Columbians — are being considered the least by Ottawa and our neighbour to the East. And based on the number of infrequent trips our Prime Minister makes to our province without a scripted story to tell — we were even excluded from the “cross-Canada town halls” last winter — we’re not likely to get a chance to air our grievances directly. But British Columbians don’t need to. We have the tools we need to protect ourselves and we’re already getting to work.
Trudeau and Notley may think Kinder Morgan’s bulldozers will be coming onto our land to dig up our earth in September, but they’ll have to fight against our constitutional law and Aboriginal peoples’ rights first. Not a good look, and certainly not what I would call pursuing the interests of our nation, but hey. It’s their choice.