EDITORIAL: Premier makes most out of a losing hand on pipeline

The cards were stacked against him when B.C. Premier John Horgan sat down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on Sunday.

Horgan remains at loggerheads with the federal and Alberta governments over the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

B.C.’s premier has pinned his hopes on a legal challenge to the pipeline – but most legal experts say those hopes are extremely thin.

But while Horgan has steadily maintained his calm while playing his losing hand, the hysterics have ramped up on the other side of the table.

The Alberta government has responded with everything from a ban on British Columbia wine to the threat of turning off the gas to B.C. consumers. Sunday’s meeting saw Ottawa remove the threat of blocking transfer payments from the table, but the feds still have a few cards to play.

Kinder Morgan’s decision to suspend all non-essential work on the project until the legal issues are resolved got the desired effect, with both Trudeau and Notley expressing a willingness to commit government funds to the project, effectively letting Kinder Morgan play with house money.

Given the B.C. NDP’s traditional power base, opposition to the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline can only be a good thing for them politically.

Even if the courts rule against him, Horgan can say the B.C. government did everything it could, but the courts have determined the province doesn’t have the authority.

Instead of banking on a long-shot win in the courts, Horgan is focusing on the safer play of enhanced protection for B.C. waters. Horgan and Trudeau agreed to address the gaps in the $1.5 billion Ocean Protection Plan, and that really is the best B.C.’s premier could have hoped for.

The hysteria seen on the other side of the Rockies, with a relentless stream of threats and intimidation, just makes Horgan’s patience seem more remarkable.

The odds may be stacked against him, but B.C.’s premier continues to calmly play the cards he was dealt.

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