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

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

Just Posted

Q & A with Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen

Thiessen speaks about Horgan’s visit and issues raised by the municipality

Vanderhoof Children’s Theatre back with Frozen Jr.

The theatre group is performing eight public shows starting Jan. 29

Vanderhoof business owners appealing to BC Assessment on substantial property tax increases

Several business owners in Vanderhoof are making an appeal to BC Assessment,… Continue reading

Coastal GasLink work camp in Vanderhoof gets approved by the ALC

The work camp behind the Vanderhoof airport was first rejected by the commission in October last year

Vanderhoof post office closed until further notice

There will be no mail going in or out of the Vanderhoof… Continue reading

VIDEO: Music stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant at Grammys award show

Music artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant

Pregnant B.C. woman stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak

Woman is due to give birth in Wuhan, China unless she can get out

Victoria-area wolf tranquilized after being seen running around neighbourhood

Officials say wolf unharmed during its ‘arrest’

Ontario confirms second presumptive coronavirus case in wife of first patient

Both arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Most Read