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

Just Posted

Sooke’s Meals on Wheels needs cooks

Group serves nutritious meals to some of the region’s most vulnerable residents

Sooke mom hopeful for funding to treat child’s debilitating arthritis

Jillian Lanthier ‘prays’ for $19,000 per-dose drug for her son

BC SPCA proposes fines for animal mistreatment, reduction in commercial trade

Animal welfare group’s ideas brought to Victoria councillors

Trial date delayed in case of slain Oak Bay sisters

Case of Andrew Berry, charged in deaths of daughters, will reconvene in three weeks

School’s on today, more snow expected across Greater Victoria

Environment Canada says more snow could fall Friday

Photo gallery: Show us your Winter Wonderland!

User submitted photos from around Greater Victoria

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Suspect and Mountie bitten by police dog during arrest near Nanaimo

Two suspects were arrested in connection with a stolen pickup truck in Cassidy on Thursday evening

B.C. ski cross racer wins Olympic gold

Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa wins the gold medal in thrilling fashion in PyeongChang

All aboard! Job fair ports this weekend in Victoria

Find out about the hundreds of jobs in Victoria’s cruise ship industry

New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

More charges were laid Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate

Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

Raymond Cormier was accused of killing Indigenous 15-year-old and dumping her body in the Red River

Okanagan real estate agents brace for speculation tax impact

“There’s a real potential for a domino effect to hurt the market in Kelowna.”

Human remains found near Campbell River

Human remains were found in a rural area outside Campbell River, RCMP… Continue reading

Most Read