The current federal government needs to stop being selective when and where it chooses to support Canada’s vital economic interests. Consistently intervening in one region over another is bad for federalism and inter-provincial relations.
The government needs to finally keep its word about using all legislative options to protect the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, as well as all pipeline projects that seek to increase pipeline capacity.
One case in point is the National Energy Board’s (NEB) recent ruling that the Trans Mountain project is in the national public interest.
NEB found that the project would be good for all Canadians in terms of diversifying markets for Alberta oil producers, which would serve to create jobs and economic opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, while providing revenues for governments.
Federal politicians of all stripes, in fact, have known that the Trans Mountain expansion is in the public interest. Surely that was the case when Ottawa acquired the pipeline from Kinder Morgan in May 2018.
Then why did Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois MPs act together to prevent passage of a Senate bill that aimed to affirm federal authority over pipelines?
Back in February 2018, Independent Alberta Senator Doug Black introduced Bill S-245, which declared the Trans Mountain project a work “for the general advantage of Canada” and contained language invoking proper federal powers over inter-provincial pipelines under section 92(10)(c) of the Constitution Act, 1867.
The bill would have provided a legal foundation for federal action on inter-provincial pipelines. How is that objectionable?
In the end, on October 24, 2018, a majority of MPs (197 versus 86) in the House of Commons defeated this Senate bill at second reading.