Message to Alberta’s chattering classes: Quit misinterpreting ‘the rule of law,’ already!

By David Climenhaga

We’re hearing the phrase “the rule of law” an awful lot in Alberta these days, from politicians of the left
and right.

In a recent advertisement published in British Columbia newspapers, the Alberta government accused its B.C. counterpart of “trying to break the rules of Confederation” by considering limits on the amount of diluted bitumen that can flow through pipelines in B.C. “The disregard for the rule of law puts our national economy in danger,” the ad said.
 

Rule of lawComplaining about the mayor of Burnaby’s reluctance to pay for extra policing at the terminus of the Trans Mountain Pipeline in his community, Alberta’s NDP premier, Rachel Notley, referred to this activity as “the policing of the rule of law.”

“The B.C. government took aim at the jobs of hundreds of thousands of hardworking women and men in every industry that depends on governments acting within the rule of law,” she said on another recent occasion.

Jason Kenney, leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party Opposition, has said much the same. “The rule of law must be enforced,” he Tweeted. “It’s time to stand up for the rule of law in Canada,” he said in a Facebook video. “We have environmental radicals who are increasingly undermining the rule of law as the basic organizing principle of Canadian society…”

In the context now that even some of mainstream media’s more reasonable commentators are slipping uncritically into the rule-of-law meme. Premier Notley, wrote Edmonton Journal political columnist Graham Thomson yesterday, “is counting on the rule of law while her opponents are determined to break, stretch or ignore the law,” wrote Edmonton Journal political columnist Graham Thomson recently.

I could go on at considerably more length, but I think readers get the idea. In all cases above, the emphasis was added by your blogger to the phrase “the rule of law.” Most of the time in this debate, it is used to mean “obedience to the law,” which is normally a citizen’s duty, but not the same thing at all as “the rule of law.”


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What’s Kinder Morgan’s real end game?

By Seth Klein

Here’s a different take on Kinder Morgan’s ultimatum and the so-called “constitutional crisis” it has sparked. I’m speculating, of course, as we all seek to understand what Kinder Morgan is really up to. But allow me to posit a minority theory:

We’re getting played!

End Game 1It is entirely possible that Kinder Morgan has already decided to cut its losses and walk away from the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX)—and not for the reasons they are telling their shareholders or the public. It may well be that the May 31 deadline is merely for show, and the Texas-based corporation has already determined the project is not feasible both for economic reasons and due to profound Indigenous and popular opposition.

The economics of the project have been on shaky ground for some time, as the CCPA has extensively documented. Particularly since the Trump administration’s revival of the Keystone XL project, and with the approval of Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion, the industry’s need for TMX pipeline capacity has been undercut (which helped to kill the Energy East proposal). The temporary gap in oil prices internationally compared to in North America is now largely gone, undercutting the case for Pacific “tidewater” access. And the higher costs of extracting, refining and transporting oil sands bitumen further erodes the economics. I testified before the federal government’s Ministerial Panel on Kinder Morgan in 2016 and sought to debunk the economic arguments made in favour of the pipeline expansion.

Layered onto the dubious economics are the growing protests, but most significantly, Indigenous opposition.

It may well be that the May 31 deadline is merely for show, and the Texas-based corporation has already determined the project is not feasible both for economic reasons and due to profound Indigenous and popular opposition.

The civil disobedience phase of TMX opposition kicked into gear March 10 with a protest of about 10,000 people on Burnaby Mountain. Like the larger movement to stop the project, the protest was Indigenous-led, with the call to mobilize coming in particular from leaders of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC).


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