Braid: After humiliating court defeat, B.C. Premier Horgan blusters on
B.C.'s appeal court has told Premier John Horgan he can't stand in the way of Alberta oil flowing to tidewater.
And yet, B.C. Premier John Horgan does not relent in shilling for continued support of Andrew Weaver’s Greens.
B.C. will appeal this defeat to the Supreme Court of Canada, Horgan vows. He and his attorney general, David Eby, still say they can win.
But this was a courtroom rout; the B.C. appeal court judges ruled 5-0 against Horgan’s specious argument that the province can regulate in an area of clear federal power
It was a great victory for Premier Jason Kenney, who increasingly looks like a lucky politician. Former Premier Rachel Notley pitched for eight long innings; Kenney strolls to the mound and gets the win.
“B.C.’s highest court has spoken,” Kenney tweeted. “The time for obstruction of TMX is now over.”
The ruling has welcome symbolic meaning. It’s a full-throated declaration that we still have a country where the national government has certain essential powers. The feds were in court, along with Alberta, to argue the point vigorously
The ruling smooths the way for a new federal approval of pipeline construction on or before June 18. This is a near certainty. We can also expect, before fall, news of major First Nations investment in the project
There was worry in Ottawa before the B.C. ruling came down. The loss in Federal Court last Aug. 30 – the only one, but massively damaging – showed everyone that you never can be sure what a Canadian court will do next.
Another defeat on Friday would have discouraged oil and gas investment, devalued the federal pipeline stake of $4.5 billion, and ramped up Alberta anger once again.
So, this was a major win – essential, in fact, for the good of Alberta and the whole country.
The unanimous ruling is clear about what Horgan was trying to do.
It says: “The ‘default’ position of the law is to prohibit the possession of all heavy oil in the Province above the Substance Threshold — an immediate and existential threat to a federal undertaking that is being expanded specifically to increase the amount of oil being transported through British Columbia.”
(The “threshold” is roughly the amount that goes through the existing line, which Horgan did not seek to regulate, thereby showing the judges he doesn’t mind bitumen so much after all.)
The ruling continues: “Even if it were not intended to ‘single out’ the TMX pipeline, it has the potential to affect (and indeed ‘stop in its tracks’) the entire operation of Trans Mountain as an interprovincial carrier and exporter of oil.
“It is legislation that in pith and substance relates to, and relates only
to, what makes the pipeline ‘specifically of federal jurisdiction’.”
The ruling goes on like that. You could say it knocks the pith out of Horgan.
But the B.C. Greens are increasingly militant, after winning eight provincial seats in Prince Edward Island and the federal riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith in a byelection May 6.
“To be very clear,” federal Leader Elizabeth May has tweeted, “we do not support a single additional barrel of output, a single additional well, or off-shore exploration. No fracking. A rapid transition off fossil fuels.”
Horgan has to dance on the Green string to keep his job. You could almost feel sorry for the guy, if he hadn’t directly caused so much economic pain in Alberta.
And now his reward is Jason Kenney, the implacable foe he helped install by making life so difficult for Notley.
It’s likely that this victory for Kenney, regardless of who did the grunt work, has averted a national crisis.
If Horgan had won and his government had begun to impose the regulations, the premier probably would have invoked Bill 12 and cut oil and gas supplies to both B.C. and the rest of the country
That won’t happen – yet – but many hurdles await. Actually building the pipeline, for instance.