Someone should tell the Premier of Alberta, Rachel Notley, that when you are in a hole, you should stop digging.
Late last week, Notley and Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, suffered a significant and potentially fatal set-back, when a Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the Canadian government had inadequately consulted First nations over the approval process of the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline.
The ruling by the Court effectively quashed the National Energy Board’s previous approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which will triple the amount of dirty tar sands transported from Alberta to the British Columbian coast. It has long been opposed by First Nations, local communities and environmental groups.
The judges ruled that: “Canada fell well short of the minimum requirements imposed by the case law of the Supreme Court of Canada in relation to consultation with First Nations.”
It also concluded that the government had also fallen short in relation to the adverse affects of “project-related marine vessels” on the highly endangered Southern resident killer whale population.
The court ruling has supposedly sent Canada into a “tizzy” and will have, in the words of David Tindall, Professor of Sociology, University of British Columbia, “seismic implications to the Canadian socio-political and environmental landscape.” Kevin Taft, who was Leader of the Opposition in Alberta from 2003 to 2008, called the repercussions “volcanic”.
In response to the decision, Notley and Justin Trudeau, who has just bought the pipeline with Canadian tax payers money could finally have admitted that their climate-munching game was up, that the Trans Mountain pipeline was doomed or as one commentator put it, the Canadian government had just bought “a pig in a poke”.
They could have seen the error of their ways, and said that, in retrospect, the best option for everyone, including the climate, was a managed declined of the dirty tar sands.
But no. Notley remains in the pocket of the tar sands industry. After the ruling, Notley said: “This ruling is bad for working families. It is bad for the security of this country. The economy security of our country. Albertans are angry. I am angry. Alberta has done everything right and we have been let down … it is a crisis”.
She also called on Trudeau to recall Parliament to an emergency session to “fix the mistakes” of the pipeline review process and get construction of the Trans Mountain project going by January 2019.
Notley then announced she was pulling out of Canada’s Climate Action plan, and bragged that “without Alberta the plan is not worth the paper it is written on .. before adding that “every Canadian has a stake in proper climate action, no more so than my kids, your kids and the generations who will follow us.”
The move was said by one media commentator to have “left environmentalists and political observers perplexed”. Tim Grey, executive director of the Environmental Defence, was one such person, who said: “Seeking revenge on the environment for a court decision that protects First Nations’ rights and the requirement to undergo proper environmental assessment seems very odd to me.” He added that the decision was “misguided”.
Indeed, Notley’s decision and rhetoric is perverse. She says she cares about a viable future for her children, but has just walked away from a climate plan – flawed though it was – which could have helped lower Canada’s carbon emissions. She is still determined to build a climate destroying pipeline, ignoring the fires that have raged and continue to burn, in different parts of Canada.
She never had to peg her political survival on a doomed pipeline, but she has. She has dug herself into a hole and she is carrying on digging. But what makes it so outrageous is that she is saying she is acting on behalf of future generations, but in fact she wants to destroy us all.