When the Federal Court of Appeal announced its decision to quash the Justin Trudeau Liberal government approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) many of us in Saanich North and the Islands celebrated!
Not only did the decision recognize that the federal government needs to respect the law with Indigenous people, but it also recognized that the project’s impacts on the critical habitat of the Salish Sea must be considered.
Those of us who live here and indeed the rest of the world got a wake up call this summer through the vivid pictures of Tahlequah (also known as J35) pushing the corpse of her baby calf for nearly three weeks. Through the tenuous and tragic situation of our friends, neighbours and relatives, the Southern Resident Killer Whales, we saw that the Salish Sea is in trouble.
When the court’s decision was made public some people quickly claimed that the TMX project was dead. But, as we look deeper at the decision we learn that the Court has given the Prime Minister a clear path forward, and, with Finance Minister Bill Morneau already claiming they will continue to push this pipeline through, now is not the time to celebrate. We still have work to do.
With these public proclamations that this pipeline will get built, there is little to be confident about. Will the federal government approach their future reviews or consultations in good faith? They have already publicly proclaimed their intended outcome.
As an intervenor in the National Energy Board hearing on this project, I and many others expressed our deep concerns about the process. Environmental assessments must build the public’s confidence. We must trust that the environmental impacts of a project have been understood and carefully considered and the project balanced with all the cards on the table.
Now, the Prime Minister has bought the pipeline, the federal election is just around the corner, and pressure is building in Alberta. Despite this Court ruling, they have already assured Canadians that the pipeline is going to be built. The cost has already been huge, and very messy.
It is time for the Province of British Columbia to cancel the Environmental Assessment Equivalency Agreement with the National Energy Board. Clearly, the federal government has deeply politicized the process with TMX. In the summer of 2010 the BC Liberal government signed British Columbia’s interests away. It is time to take them back.
MLA Saanich North and the Islands