A Greenpeace employee climbs a flagpole in front of the B.C. legislature the morning after a deal is reached between the NDP and B.C. Green Party to form a minority government. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

The conquest of rural B.C.

Urban environmentalists have occupied the NDP

The day after he was named B.C.’s premier-designate, John Horgan told a Vancouver radio station that stopping the Trans Mountain oil pipeline isn’t his top priority. It didn’t even come up in his first phone call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

His first priorities, Horgan said after signing up the B.C. Greens to unseat the B.C. Liberals by one vote, are the opioid crisis, housing and reaching a lumber trade deal with the U.S. Since there’s little he can do about any of these things that isn’t already being done, this is a pirouette from protest to public relations, in the Trudeau style.

Horgan’s swearing-in as premier July 18 conveniently won’t allow him to attend the annual premiers’ meeting that week. It’s in Edmonton, hosted by fellow NDP Premier Rachel Notley, who has joined Trudeau in reminding Horgan he has no constitutional right to blockade a federally regulated resource project. Alberta reporters would want to know more about Horgan’s vow to use “every tool in the toolkit” to stop the upgrade of the only oil pipeline link from northern Alberta to the Pacific, delivering oil and refined fuels since 1954.

Fortunately for Horgan, he can temporarily hand off this promise to the international protest machine gathering to confront the pipeline project’s launch this fall.

West Coast Environmental Law, one of the network of well-funded organizations supporting the U.S.-led “Tar Sands Campaign,” has produced its own “toolkit” for monkey-wrenching Trans Mountain.

Their suggestions include “impose further processes and conditions on the Trans Mountain project related to matters within provincial jurisdiction” and “prohibit any new provincial approvals or permits, and suspend existing approvals until the additional processes and conditions have been satisfied.”

This is essentially the Adrian Dix playbook from 2013: re-establish a parallel provincial process to subvert the existing one. A mere 157 conditions were imposed by the National Energy Board, another 37 by B.C., and Kinder Morgan Canada has committed $1.5 billion extra for a B.C. environmental enhancement fund, thicker pipe, more drilled crossings and a tunnel through Burnaby Mountain.

Speaking of which, staff at Simon Fraser University have been among those enthusiastically preparing a replay of the Dakota Access pipeline standoff in the U.S. This spectacle created rather than prevented an environmental disaster, with a vast garbage-strewn squat and hundreds of vehicles abandoned for the U.S. Army to clean up before spring flooding.

These protests are not about protecting water. They’re about keeping petroleum fuels in the ground in selected places.

The appointment of Vancouver-Fairview MLA George Heyman as environment minister next week would cement the environmentalist takeover of the NDP. Heyman transitioned from president of the B.C. Government Employees’ Union to running the B.C. branch office of San Francisco-based Sierra Club before being elected in 2013.

Now all in with the war on (Canadian) oil, Horgan insists he supports natural gas exports. But so far he’s toed the professional protester line that the leading B.C. project, Pacific Northwest LNG, also hasn’t met a high enough environmental standard.

Most importantly, opponents insist no pipeline has met the United Nations standard of “free, prior and informed consent” by every possible Aboriginal title claimant. This is an absolute demand of Horgan and Green leader Andrew Weaver. It ignores federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s insistence that this can’t simply be imposed on Canadian law.

We are at a point in B.C. history where the urban population is poised to defeat the rural regions, based on exaggerated risk and rejection of benefit. The cost would be high.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

Just Posted

B.C. government invests $1.9 billion in community housing

14,000 mixed-income affordable units to be built with local housing providers, advocates

Complaint filed against B.C. naturopath who treated boy with rabid dog saliva

BC Naturopathic Association questions Dr. Anke Zimmermann’s conduct on recent treatments

Girls soccer team kicks off at Sooke school

Squad hits pitch for first time eight years

Manak calls Const. Ian Jordan fallen hero

Late Victoria cop mourned at funeral by officers from numerous local, out-of-town jurisdictions

North Saanich added to list of places that want tax exemption

District seeks meeting with Province about alternatives

Shania Twain visits Canadian Armed Forces base in B.C.

Canadian country icon thanks members of CFB Esquimalt for their service

Why a 14-year-old will lead the charge at annual marijuana protest on the Hill

Marijuana enthusiasts have long been circling April 20 on their calendars as annual day of cannabis

Spring Home Show this weekend in Colwood

West Shore Parks and Recreation will be transformed to showcase everything home related

B.C. communities await marine spill compensation years after incidents

The government maintains a Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund to compensate Canadians

RCMP say too early to know what happened in Broncos crash

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said collission very complex

Conservative MP wants feds to close loophole for illegal border crossers

Immigration advocates call on government to suspend Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement

Alberta university criticized for honouring David Suzuki

University of Alberta plans to bestow environmentalist with honourary degree

B.C. First Nations get clarity on fishing rights from top court

Nations call federal government to settle fishing rights ‘within the true meaning of reconciliation’

Judge to decide Friday if fatal B.C. school stabbing suspect is fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein could have trial of Abbotsford case delayed because of mental health issues

Most Read