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

BC Election 2017BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

KUTE expands service to accept paper products

Prior to May 23 the facility had only been accepting cardboard since it reopened on April 22

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

Locals getting good grades when it comes to social distancing: RCMP

The local detachment said the public has been responsible with adhering to COVID-19 practices

Minimum wage goes up June 1 in B.C. as businesses face COVID-19 challenges

The minimum wage jumps by 75 cents to $14.60 an hour on Monday

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Most Read