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Long road ahead for Trans Mountain Expansion

20.17.01.Trans Mountain Expansion
The Trans Mountain Expansion is facing one less obstacle after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against the BC government's request. File Photo.

LAKELAND - This was a small step in the right direction, said Lakeland MP Shannon Stubbs.

Earlier this week British Columbia's attempts to regulate what could flow from Alberta through the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion were rejected.

The Supreme Court of Canada shot down the province’s request to require permits prior to heavy crude oil being shipped through the pipeline after several hours of hearings on Thursday.

This news was music to the ears of Stubbs, who is also the shadow minister of natural resources.

"I was really grateful to see the Supreme Court strike down the BC government's court challenge on the Trans Mountain Expansion, where they were trying to assert the power to determine what would be shipped in the pipeline," she told the Nouvelle.

“It would have set a very dangerous precedent for provincial governments to be able to essentially dictate the product or material carried through inter-provincial infrastructure, which is federal jurisdiction," continued Stubbs. "However, for that reason, the Supreme Court couldn’t have made any other possible decision, I don’t think, because it’s been blindingly obvious and well established that inter-provincial pipelines are federal jurisdiction."

She added, "On one hand, I'm very grateful to see the decision, but it's also frustrating because it's nothing new."

Even though this is one barrier no longer standing in the way of the expansion that will see the pipeline twinned to roughly twice its current capacity, there is still a long road ahead.

“What we’re looking at is continued waste of time, continued waste of money, continued obstructionist tactics from other levels of government, all for the Supreme Court to just confirm what was already clearly the case. The Liberals still haven’t released any concrete plan for next steps on the completion of the Trans Mountain Expansion and they refuse to guarantee an end service date," exclaimed Stubbs, adding there are more court challenges that have yet to be addressed such as the argument regarding the government's lack of indigenous consultation.

"There are some other organizations suggesting they may also launch court challenges, those all pose threats to the construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion and the Liberals have still given no clarity whatsoever on what they will do in response to any other further court challenges."

The federal government's lack of response to BC's initial threats when the pipeline was owned by Kinder Morgan are among the reasons why the company "abandoned the project," explained Stubbs, adding this was when the Liberals stepped in and purchased the pipeline at the cost of $4.5-billion.

She noted if the government had enforced federal jurisdiction, the pipeline would have been in operation as of December 2019.

Stubbs stressed that while it would have been "completely disastrous for the Supreme Court to make a different decision," which would have "stopped the Trans Mountain Expansion in its tracks," there will be more obstacles standing in the way.

"To this day, the Liberals haven't told Canadians when the pipeline will be completed. They haven't told Canadians when the end service date will be, what they will do in terms of selling the pipeline, who will own it and what the ownership structure will be, and it continues to lose money everyday. Meanwhile, Canada is still landlocked."

Also standing in their way are federal bills C-48 and C-69, "which the private sector has said will guarantee no new pipeline gets proposed or built in Canada again," exclaimed Stubbs.

Stubbs continues to "call on (the federal government) for actual clarity, because if they proceed with construction there will be protests, there will be sit-ins, families, people, and probably kids out on the pipeline route trying to stop it being built. What's the government going to do then? Those are the kinds of questions they're going to have to answer and they owe those answers to Canadians because they made them owners of the pipeline."

Meagan MacEachern, Bonnyville Nouvelle