Quebec politicians are speaking out against Ottawa's intention to override British Columbia in its opposition to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline extension, and are calling for more collaboration with provincial governments when it comes to environmental legislation.
In an open letter published today in La Presse, Jean-Marc Fournier, the Quebec minister responsible for Canadian relations, called on the federal government to acknowledge and work with provincial legislation with regards to projects that touch both provincial and federal jurisdiction.
"The recent assertions of federal representatives regarding the Trans Mountain pipeline, which refer to an exclusive application of federal rules, are detrimental to a proper resolution of this issue and raise concerns for the future," he wrote."Not a Good Sign for Federalism"
...Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said Thursday that the federal government's plans to go ahead with the pipeline are "not a good sign for federalism."Trudeau's Hollow Constitutional Claims or Blowing Smoke Up Canadians' Backsides.
"At the end of the day it's about people, citizens living on the land," Couillard said. "Why don't we work together and exercise our full jurisdiction?"
One federal official, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, said Friday that Ottawa is "resolved to move forward on the project."
"We have the federal tools to do that. We will be, of course, discussing how to do that with the project proponent," Morneau said.
Fournier said these types of claims encourage those running these projects to ignore provincial environmental rules enacted on behalf of citizens interested or affected by projects that could have environmental consequences.DeSmogBlog's Emma Gilchrist did an insightful interview with veteran Ottawa constitutional lawyer, Jack Woodward, who, back in 1981, put pen to paper and drafted the constitutional provision enshrining aboriginal rights.
In the ensuing 37 years, Woodward has come to know a thing or two about Canada’s constitution. For one, he fought the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s title case for a quarter century, resulting in the landmark Supreme Court ruling that the nation holds title to about 1,900 square kilometres of its traditional territory in B.C.
So when Woodward hears pundits and politicians bandying around the phrase “unconstitutional,” his ears perk up.
“The government of Alberta will not — we cannot — let this unconstitutional attack on jobs and working people stand,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said after the B.C. government announced its intention to limit the transport of diluted bitumen through the province in January.
“She’s completely wrong about that,” Woodward told DeSmog Canada. “And if she was right, she could go to court. But she knows she’s not right, so that’s why she’s using that word as if it is a political tool rather than a legal tool … That’s a superficial and incorrect view of how the Canadian constitution works.”
...Beyond Indigenous rights, landmark rulings such as the Tsilhqot’in decision have emphasized something called “co-operative federalism.”
“The modern trend of federalism is that nobody has the upper hand — and everyone has to work it out,” Woodward said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statements on the Trans Mountain pipeline also seem ignorant of that reality.
“Look, we're in a federation,” Trudeau has said. “We're going to get that pipeline built.”
But Canada’s constitution governs by the principle that you err on the side of allowing two different laws to exist if at all possible, Woodward says.
“So it’s true that Canada could authorize a pipeline, but it’s also true that B.C. could probably govern safety aspects of that pipeline within B.C. including regulation of hazardous products, such as diluted bitumen,” Woodward said.Woodward's insights make Justin Trudeau's arrogance and bullying almost painfully transparent.
It may be 2,400 miles as the crow flies between Victoria and Quebec City but it's never felt closer.