By DAVID JOHNSON
TODAY I WATCHED as trucks stacked with the actual pipe, leave the storage yard on Mission Flats road in Kamloops, and head out towards the next construction staging and storage points. They actually started moving within the hour of Trudeau’s announcement, and there’s dozens of loaded trucks per day doing this. It may not be a shovel in the ground, but it might as well be. It has begun
Of course Trudeau approved it … he always said he was going to.
It actually wasn’t his fault lawsuits came and the courts became involved, and it wasn’t his fault that the legal process took that much time. I honestly don’t blame him or his government for that, it’s the system of justice and appeal that our society created, that took this long. The conservatives drop that responsibility on him and continuously say ‘why is it taking so long?’ … as if Trudeau had a choice in the matter.
I’m not saying I agree or disagree with the anti-pipeline proponents who have pushed the battle into every legal alleyway they could think of, we have to remember that they have the right to use that same system to not just make their views known, but take action to have their opinion considered and the balance of their argument judged within the system made available to them. We call that justice, and it must be respected.
The ship of a successful legal challenge has sailed
Future ideas of lawsuits to stop the pipeline will be difficult as there really isn’t any more sustainable legal argument left, that there isn’t already determined by precedent. The rhetoric and media time will probably be the most intense ever experienced in B.C. history, but actually succeeding in stopping it legally? The ship of a successful legal challenge has sailed.
In the midst of all this …Boom … a private company chickened out. Because of the project delay and the damage caused by it with investors the Canadian government had to bail it out and keep the project afloat by actually buying it. Not a lot of options, their political future may ride on this oil flowing and their long term economic policy demanded revenues from this pipeline. The pipeline not being built stopped being an option a long time ago.
Within B.C., John Horgan is playing the long game.
The NDP has been clear for years that they don’t support the pipeline, but been less clear that it was pretty much for political reasons, as this platform played a role in them becoming government. They teetered on the verge of a no confidence vote by the Greens, and so he played the court card as far as he could with the jurisdiction decision, when he knew full well going in what that decision would be.
Again … Boom … he’s in office for another year because of the delay. He knows he doesn’t have any more legal avenues, and he said basically that he wasn’t going to stop any legally applied for permits, because there is no defence to do so … and so he will continue as government from this point on.
The interesting part is that the Greens will not force out Horgan’s government in the medium term either, as they don’t really have a legal argument to force the NDP to illegally block construction, and a non-confidence vote initiated election right now would piss off voters and we would probably react against their precious three seats. The risk is too great to do anything besides rhetoric, and Horgan knows that.
This is a long game being very carefully played
So the pipe will go in, and will probably be purchased by a First Nations consortium which all levels of government are giddy about. Let these courageous souls and the elected First Nations leadership turn to their own land and talk to the hereditary leadership, where the mainstay of the Indigenous protest is.
Let this become an in-house conversation.
The federal government can’t do meaningful dialogue here; there’s 150 years of baggage that enters the room any time Native leadership and the Canadian government sit down together. This First Nations consortium are the only ones that have the capacity to engage in truthful dialogue as can only be understood by everyone at that table.
Only the future knows how that will go. All our fingers should be crossed.
Those dozens of loaded pipe trucks? Whether we like it or not, shovels and smiling politicians with white hard hats will be in our zeitgeist soon. It has begun.
David Johnson is a Kamloops resident, community volunteer and self described maven of all things Canadian.