By Andrew Wilkinson
If Premier John Horgan respects the oath he and his cabinet ministers swore to enforce the laws of British Columbia, he has no choice but to ask Forests Minister Doug Donaldson to resign.
Last weekend Minister Donaldson visited an illegal protest camp blocking the Coastal GasLink project. This is a project that was approved by the NDP government, and the NDP issued permits for the project signed by Minister Donaldson himself. And the BC Supreme Court has ordered that the obstruction of the project must stop. The RCMP are in the process of enforcing that court order.
It’s deeply hypocritical for the NDP to claim credit for delivering an LNG project to B.C. while also supporting an illegal protest to obstruct the same project.
But the most troubling aspect of Doug Donaldson’s attendance at the protest is that it shakes one of the pillars of our democracy: a government that makes laws must enforce those laws. It’s simply not possible in our democratic system for a minister to decide unilaterally to reverse the law.
All 20 of the elected band councils along the pipeline route support its development and also support the removal of the blockade. The project represents countless jobs, today and into the future. So however he claims it was intended, this was not just an innocent visit. Minister Donaldson represents the B.C. government. He is a member of the Cabinet that sets the rules for our society – he cannot ignore court orders, and he cannot change the law on a whim.
When the minister visited the protest, he signaled support for an illegal blockade that threatens opportunities for British Columbians. He told British Columbians that the government does not care about their jobs. He signaled that anyone interested in creating opportunity in B.C. will have to contend with a volatile, unreliable, anti-development NDP government.
Minister Donaldson has shown that NDP cabinet ministers can thumb their noses at the very rules, regulations, and laws they themselves create. If Premier Horgan allows the forests minister to stay on in cabinet, he is accepting this lack of respect for the law as the NDP way. That is a dangerous path for our democracy.
Andrew Wilkinson is leader of the B.C. Liberal Party.