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That’s when they surrendered BC’s best chance to stop Enbridge’s risky pipeline.

I hate a whiner, especially a political one who whines to hide guilt. (To any who asks whether or not I whined when I was a politician, I can answer truthfully that I didn’t. Premier Bill Bennett wouldn’t stand for it and my mistakes were so obvious from the beginning that I had no time to! And any who wonder about Bill Bennett’s premiership need only consider what we’ve had since!)

Premier Clark just had her duff kicked out of the Joint Review Panel “investigating” the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and cries unfairness. By an amazing coincidence, the B.C. government’s lawyer was former Campbell/Clark attorney general Geoff Plant. He would have spent the public’s money more usefully had he simply told the premier to go fishing that day and saved herself and her province from being badly embarrassed.

British Columbia’s government had a far better way to do due diligence and wield real power to decline the pipeline. It could have done an Environmental Assessment of its own under its own legislation.

But as far back as June 10, 2010, the B.C. Liberals decided not to and instead threw in their lot, by a formal agreement, with the Federal Joint Commission knowing that it was a child of the federal cabinet in turn controlled by that dedicated conservationist Stephen Harper. In fact, in one of the few phrases I remember from that phase of life, they “knew or ought to have known” that the feds would do as they pleased and certainly wouldn’t give a rat’s hind quarters about British Columbia. The Campbell/Clark government formally ceded its jurisdiction to Ottawa.

This astonishing surrender is not hard to understand… it’s impossible! Why would a government of British Columbia, entrusted to act in the best interests of this province, do this? Both the feds and B.C. have jurisdiction in this matter and while Ottawa can declare this pipeline in the “national interest,” B.C. has numerous jurisdictional openings to effectively kill the project. It must always be remembered that approval of the pipeline virtually approves the tanker traffic as well since Enbridge, once approved, would infer the right to use tankers.

Still a chance

Since then the feds have made it abundantly clear that the JRP can recommend what they like but the Enbridge pipeline will be approved by cabinet.

There’s at least one more “out” available to British Columbia should our government want to avail itself. There always has been an opportunity for B.C. to withdraw its consent to the JRP by giving 30 days notice.┬áThis simply hasn’t been done.

Instead, British Columbia stands nose pressed against the glass of the candy store hoping the owner might, out of pity, give it a bit of candy. I hate to (but must) use a Quebec phrase and point out that our province has been humiliated, a humiliation which, like poison ivy, will reappear over and over again.

How the hell did this happen?

The Campbell/Clark government has never understood and still doesn’t understand the mood of British Columbians and is self-hypnotized with the belief that the public doesn’t care.

They see environmentalists as a seedy lot of tree huggers (thank God we’ve had them!) to whom the public doesn’t really relate.

I could have and indeed have tried to disabuse them of this badly outdated view of a public apathy long past.

Defending ourselves

I, along with environmentalists far more experienced than I, have seen a huge public shift. I think of four major clues: the 2009 protest against a private dam on the Pitt. The protest over the extension of the Sea-to-Sky through the Eagleridge Bluffs wildlife area. The protests against the overhead wires in Tsawwassen. And, close to home for me, the roast in my honour last November.

At every one of these turns it became ever more clear that added to the environmentalist movement were people from, for want of a better description, the middle, indeed upper-middle class. After the Eagleridge protests a busload of West Vancouver people attended a protest against farmland abuse arising out of the Deltaport project in Delta.

At my roast I observed many there at the WISE Hall in East Vancouver who a year before, would rather have been caught in a house of ill repute than there.

The Campbell/Clark government has, from the beginning, been ignorant of a public feeling in the community that is ever increasing — a great concern about what legacy we shall leave to our kids, grandkids, and for some of us, our great grandchildren. And, as a result, a willingness to fight for ourselves and succeeding generations even if, especially if, our leaders won’t.

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