GREEN Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) on Tuesday threw cold water on Alberta’s declaration of victory in its dispute with British Columbia over the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
When the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the B.C. government’s bid to challenge a National Energy Board (NEB) ruling that allows Kinder Morgan Canada to bypass local bylaws during construction of the pipeline expansion, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley proclaimed it “another victory for our economy for the pipeline and another victory for all Albertans and all Canadians.”
But May said that Notley’s triumphalism is premature.
“The court decision on Saturday was the most minor of all pending decisions,” said May. “It was not a legal attack on Kinder Morgan’s permit. It was a challenge to the NEB decision that the city of Burnaby did not have the legal right to protect its municipal park from pipeline construction through a bylaw. The B.C. government challenged that and lost.”
Meanwhile, there are 15 more cases pending that challenge the validity of the Kinder Morgan permit. These cases were consolidated and heard by the Federal Court of Appeal over two weeks in October last year. There are three different categories of legal argument:
* Indigenous rights raised by the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueum First Nations;
* Abuse of process and flawed NEB procedures raised by the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver; and
* Numerous cases brought by environmental groups and based on the Species at Risk Act and threats to southern resident killer whales.
“If the Federal Court of Appeal finds in favour of the appellants in even one of these cases, Kinder Morgan’s permits could be quashed,” said May, who noted that there is one more pending case still under development. The B.C. government has retained prominent lawyer Joe Arvay to develop a constitutional case on the question of the extent of BC’s jurisdiction to regulate bitumen flows in the province.
“Premier Notley’s exaggerated celebration of a minor court victory impresses no one,” said May. “The courts will have the final word on this misguided project and it is my hope that Indigenous rights and climate justice will prevail.”