Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Alberta vs. BC

I'm sure this isn't entirely funny, but it has its funny moments.

Colby Cosh

4h4 hours ago
More Colby Cosh Retweeted Mark Hume
You say BC might use its control of a coastline prejudicially against Alberta resources? Freaky hypothetical, maaaan

Mark Hume

A good way to engender hatred between British Columbians and Albertans. If this is legal, then BC could restrict flow of Alberta wheat, beef & pork through its ports. This is stupid, divisive & dangerous policy. BC…
0 replies . 0 retweets 1 like
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B.C. is a unique province. It has a combination of Pacific coast, more or less virgin forest, and a lot of aboriginal or First Nations people, many of whom have historic rights that have never been fully recognized in treaties or what not. ("Aboriginal" in Canada's constitution means one of three things: Inuit (formerly "Eskimos") whose land claims were settled by the creation of the territory of Nunavat; First Nations (generally covered by the Indian Act, treaties, reserves--includes the Dene First Nation of northern territories other than Nunavat); and Metis (definition still to be determined)). The electorate of B.C. formerly skewed toward blue collar workers. The "right" (for many years Social Credit) could win by promoting big infrastructure projects and economic growth, and come across as have-a-beer-with-the-guys social conservatives. If the NDP won, they did so by appealing to old-style trade union issues, with some benefits for the needy in general. Now, a bit like in Colorado, Oregon and other states, the educated progressives are taking over. While enjoying the prosperity that is based on "dirty" projects from the past, they resist new infrastructure, especially related to oil and gas, both on grounds of environmentalism--the beautiful wilderness which can make us happy, and from which we can probably all learn some day--and the rights of First Nations. Can the First Nations veto anything they feel like vetoing? Most Canadian universities would probably provide a "yes" to that question; the big cities of B.C. probably do so even more.

So: Alberta already profits from being able to get oil and gas "out" to B.C., the U.S., and beyond them to salt water and foreign markets. Alberta wants more pipelines. In some cases these would replace the use of trucks and trains, which of course are more subject to disastrous spills. Given the production at the oil sands facilities in Alberta, there is a need for much more pipeline capacity for "bitumen"--the stuff that is processed from oil sands, thicker (heavier? more viscous?) than crude oil.

The Trudeau government in Ottawa has approved two major projects, while stopping a third. The Kinder Morgan/Trans Mountain, which was approved, is a doubling (tripling?) of the capacity of an existing pipeline. Not that many years ago, there was an NDP leader in BC who mused out loud that because this followed an existing route, there would be no need for a full environmental assessment. (The company now says 30% of the "new" route is different from the "old" route). Now the NDP government in BC is propped up precariously by Greens. A lot of activists in the province are opposed to any new pipelines, including Trans Mountain. Doubling capacity means more risk, increased tanker traffic off the coast, etc. Part of the route runs through the Vancouver suburbs, specifically Burnaby, which among other things is the site of Simon Fraser University. Without looking it up, I'm guessing there was a lot less population in the relevant areas when the first Trans Mountain was laid than there is today. On March 10 protestors, including elected Members of Parliament, blocked access to a Kinder Morgan facility in Burnaby, in violation of a court order. (Construction was expected to begin at the Burnaby Mountain tunnel on the company's Westridge Marine Terminal property). Protestors are likely to face criminal charges, as opposed to simply being sued by the company. The company has said it will cease all operations to push this project forward unless they have relevant agreements from the B.C. government soon. The B.C. government has said it will use all legal means to stop Trans Mountain; it is the provincial Crown that is now apparently proceeding with criminal charges over some of the protests, so presumably they still think court orders should be obeyed.

Alberta has talked about various ways of inflicting economic harm on B.C. if B.C. inflicts economic harm on them. Now: possibly higher gas prices in B.C. B.C. might retaliate with--wait for it--a court order.

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