Harper’s henchmen halted.

The earth is still shaking in Alberta from the Federal Court of Appeal finally corralling the Calgary-based National Energy Board (NEB). The court was asking the logical questions about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project. The industry is angry and the politicians all a-twitter. It was high time that someone questioned that industry’s dominance of its regulator and their cozy relations at the Calgary Petroleum Club.

But it was Trudeau coming to power three years ago and allowing the relationship to continue that was worrisome. When Brian Mulroney’s conservative government moved the NEB to Calgary in 1991, the idea was to have the board more directly involved with the energy sector based there. It was under the Harper government that it appeared obvious that only the industry was the beneficiary. Many liberals considered the NEB to be just another squadron of prime minister Harper’s henchmen.

The lack of depth and concern over environmental issues has been obvious to many. During the examination of the Line 9 Enbridge pipeline reversal and increase in capacity was my worst experience in trying to meet with NEB board members. The staff in Calgary are polite and interested but the chances of getting any hearing from the board were slim.

The fact that Line 9 crosses the top of the Yonge Street subway line in Toronto was a safety concern, the NEB chose to ignore. Considering the cavern of condos running downhill from that location with tens of thousands of residents, the willingness to ignore concerns was cavalier and worrying.

But luckily the judges at the federal appeal court disagreed with their laissez-faire attitude about the environment with the Kinder Morgan expansion. The judges considered the consultation with the first nations to be flawed and the lack of environmental concern for the ocean tankers coming into the Burrard Inlet terminus to be an unjustified failure.

The guy with the egg on his face from this fiasco is Canada’s environmental poster boy, Justin Trudeau. His government is now the proud owner of a $4.7 billion pipeline, along with plans and equipment to twin the line and no credibility.

The prime minister might have the power to overrule the court and simply say the pipeline is in the national interest—or even just in Alberta’s interest—but it would hardly help him get re-elected next year.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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