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The NDP completely failed in the fight to stop the pipeline that started pumping

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VICTORY- When crude oil finally began flowing through the much-delayed and hugely budgeted expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline this week, a final defeat for British Columbia’s New Democrats was confirmed.

They campaigned against it in 2017, promising to “use every tool available to stop the project from moving forward.”

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The promise was reinforced in the power-sharing agreement with the Green Party that brought them to power: “Immediately employ all tools available to the new government to stop the pipeline expansion.”

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However, from his first day as premier, John Horgan was informed that the province could not stop construction of a gas pipeline that had already been approved by the federal cabinet and the Canada Energy Regulator.

Horgan revealed the advice when he appointed George Heyman, former director of the Sierra Club, as environment minister in the new government.

“The premier was given legal advice that stopping the project was beyond British Columbia’s jurisdiction and that framing our actions around doing so would be inappropriate and illegal,” Heyman said. “He advised Me not to do that.”

New Attorney General David Eby further confirmed that the province could not unreasonably delay or refuse any permits for the project.

Doing so would trigger a lawsuit of ruinous proportions from Kinder Morgan, builder of the expansion project.

“We will end up paying hundreds of millions of dollars to an oil company that should be going to schools and hospitals,” Eby said. He may have known that limitation before his party began making electoral promises that he could not keep.

Still the promises had been made. So Horgan and his government continued with an effort that was going to be as costly as it was useless.

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The New Democrats shifted their focus to trying to regulate the bitumen (heavy oil) that would be transported from Alberta, via the completed pipeline to the terminal in Burnaby.

This sparked a bitter confrontation with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, leader of the country’s other NDP government.

When Heyman threatened to block the movement of bitumen through the pipeline, Notley threatened that his province would boycott British Columbia wine. Horgan, fearing a trade war, backed down.

Alberta later responded with a law that would block the shipment of refined gasoline and other petroleum products to British Columbia. BC protested and threatened legal action.

“For one thing, they don’t want our oil,” Notley fumed. “On the other hand, they are suing us to get our oil.”

Horgan and Notley had worked as political officials in the British Columbia NDP government in the 1990s. Their chief of staff, John Heaney, had previously been Horgan’s chief of staff when he was leader of the Opposition.

Horgan said he and Notley disagreed on only one issue: the pipeline.

“Our values ​​go hand in hand,” he told reporters. “We have been friends for 20 years.

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Notley’s communications staff responded: “They are not close friends and never were. “They were simply acquaintances who worked for the same organization.”

Observers could not recall another occasion in which a Canadian prime minister had “unfriended” another.

The stakes were much higher for Notley than for Horgan. He was trying to save face for a promise he couldn’t keep. He needed to deliver the pipeline to have any chance of winning the next election. (She lost to Jason Kenney).

Meanwhile, BC racked up legal bills with mostly embarrassing results. In a first foray into Federal Court, the judge said the Horgan government “does not appear to understand the basic rules of the complex procedure it is attempting to initiate.” He considered the province’s intervention “irrelevant, distracting and inadmissible.”

The amateur hour continued as the New Democrats tried to persuade a court – any court – that the province had at least some jurisdiction over the federally regulated project.

In a hearing before the British Columbia Court of Appeal, the province stated that its objective was never “to prevent the construction or operation of the pipeline.” However, the court ruled against BC, five judges to none.

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In the Supreme Court of Canada, BC’s lawyer repeated the absurd claim that the New Democrats had never intended to stop the pipeline.

One of the high court judges cited the NDP’s election platform: “That’s what they said they were going to do and I believe them.”

The high court’s nine judges unanimously rejected BC’s case. Cumulative score: Judges 15, NDP 0

The New Democrats never provided a full estimate of the costs of this futile exercise, although I expect it amounted to millions of dollars in legal bills and lost court time.

The delay strategy contributed to Kinder Morgan’s decision to abandon the field in British Columbia. Ottawa bought the project and continued as the cost ($10 billion when the New Democrats first dipped into the toolbox) ballooned to more than $34 billion.

It fell to Alberta’s Notley to deliver the final verdict on Horgan’s ridiculous battle against the pipeline. He said the tools in Horgan’s toolbox were not from DeWalt, the maker of power tools for adults, but from Fisher Price, the maker of children’s toys.

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