Reality check: What exactly has the B.C. NDP government done to "block" the Kinder Morgan pipeline?

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Alberta premier Rachel Notley has been trying to ignite some outrage via her Twitter feed after Kinder Morgan suspended nonessential expenditures on its $7.4-billion Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project.

      "Alberta is prepared to do whatever it takes to get this pipeline built—including taking a public position in the pipeline."

      "We will be bringing forward legislation giving our gov't the powers it needs to impose serious economic consequences on British Columbia if its government continues on its present course."

      "We are also calling on the federal government to act in the defense of Alberta and working people in Western Canada in the way they have in the past for other parts of this country."

      Those are just three of the messages she issued yesterday.

      Not to be outdone, Alberta's leader of the United Conservative Party, Jason Kenney, has also gone on the Twitter warpath against B.C.

      So what has the B.C. NDP government actually done to thwart this project?

      Well, it hired a respected 85-year-old former judge and former NDP leader, Thomas Berger, to act as external counsel to offer advice on its legal obligations to consult meaningfully with First Nations.

      The B.C. NDP government news release at the time described this as taking action to protect the province over the pipeline and tanker-traffic expansion.

      Berger was also retained to offer input on whether the B.C. government should seek intervenor status before the Federal Court. This was in connection with judicial-review applications by opponents of the pipeline.

      A Federal Court judge later granted this status, even though he described the provincial approach as "blasé", in part because of the amount of time it took to file documents.

      Several months later, Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman announced that the B.C. government would create a scientific panel to offer advice around the cleanup of diluted bitumen, should there be a spill.

      And the government said it would seek feedback on whether to restrict any increase of diluted bitumen being shipped across the province.

      So in essence, the B.C. NDP government's "war" on the pipeline has amounted to asking for advice, seeking intervenor status in a court case affecting provincial interests, and promising to adhere to court rulings.

      One can only imagine how Notley and Kenney might react if the B.C. government actually did something of substance to block a pipeline that will increase oil-tanker traffic by nearly seven times in Burrard Inlet.

      What if the Horgan government introduced legislation giving Indigenous people shared jurisdiction over environmental protection on oil-spill prevention, clean-up, remediation, and compensation through a "Heavy Oil Regulatory Authority"?

      This idea has been floated by Martyn Brown, the long-time chief of staff to former premier Gordon Campbell.

      "Would the federal government or even Alberta dare to challenge the constitutional validity of that regulatory authority and its enabling legislation in court, continuing to insist as Premier Notley is doing today, that B.C. is somehow acting 'illegally'?" Brown asked in an essay on this website. "Especially after that new entity had been developed, as it would have to be, in consultation with First Nations, without prejudice to their claims, rights, or title?"

      So far, there's no sign that Premier John Horgan is interested in pursuing this.

      But if Notley, Kenney, and Trudeau continue ramping up the rhetoric or if Trudeau dispatches the military to impose his will on B.C., it's not beyond the realm of possibility.