The BC government has announced its reference question going to the court in it’s challenge of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Attorney-General David Eby says BC believes it has the right to regulate the movement of heavy oil and heavy oil products by issuing permits.
He says the BC Court of Appeal will be asked to review proposed amendments to BC’s Environmental Management Act.
“Is the draft legislation within provincial jurisdiction to enact? In other words, can we do it? Question two, would the draft legislation be applicable to hazardous substances brought into British Columbia by way of an inter-provincial undertaking such as a pipeline? In other words, does it matter how the substance gets here? And finally, is there any federal legislation that is inconsistent with the proposed amendment that would make the proposed amendments inoperative? In other words, are there any federal laws that would prevent us from doing this?
Eby says the government will be providing notice of the application to each of the provincial Attorney’s-General in Canada as well as the federal Justice Minister.
On receiving BC’s referral, the Court of Appeal will give the province guidance on whether there are other interested parties who should be heard.
“It is up to the federal government along with any other provincial government or stakeholder to make a request of the court to participate in the reference. Our government will continue to pursue all lawful measures in cooperation with all levels of government to protect human health, the environment, our economy and our communities.”
Premier John Horgan couldn’t say what happens when the ruling comes back, especially if the court sides with BC.
“We will have to see what other jurisdictions do, what our neighbours have to say about this and other provocative actions that they may be taking. i maintain that we have been consistent using the courts. The rule of law should be paramount in British Columbia and in Canada.”
BC could go to the Supreme Court of Canada if the Appeal Court ruling is negative.
Horgan also said the legislation is not just about pipelines, it`s about rail as well.
He said an increase in the transport of diluted bitumen will increase the likelihood of a catastrophic event and that’s what the legislation is focussed on.