2018 has been the most devastating fire season in recorded B.C. history, beating the previous worst fire season in 2017, creating the worst air quality in the world, right here, with scientists attributing these events to humancaused climate change. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau flew into Nanaimo under heavy smoke, to hold caucus meetings. On the ground, environmental activist-protectors stood with Indigenous leaders to voice their continued opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project and Trudeau’s decision to buy the pipeline for a reported 4.5 billion dollars. But economist Robyn Allan has said the deal could eventually cost taxpayers between 15-20 billion dollars. 1
In the years of resistance to the pipeline expansion, more than 400 people have been arrested, with many facing heavy fines and prison sentences. But in a ruling on August 30, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada quashed the project, in a historic and scathing 266-page unanimous decision. The applicants were several First Nations, Environmental NGOs, and the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver, vs The Attorney General of Canada, the National Energy Board, and Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC. Chief amongst the issues cited in the decision were: - Failure by the Government of Canada to properly consult First Nations. - A flawed National Energy Board Hearing, not considering tanker traffic. - Failure to address the threat to Southern Resident Orcas, which are under threat of extinction.
In 2012, upon hearing of Kinder Morgan’s expansion plans, I decided to make a film on the issues; this took more than five years to complete. This Living Salish Sea was supported by people in several communities and has been screened in many towns in B.C. and Washington State. But when Green Party Leader Elizabeth May hosted a special screening of my film on Parliament Hill for MPs and Senators, none watched it, despite there being several screenings. I had repeatedly invited my MP, Pamela GoldsmithJones to inform herself and watch the film, but she did not attend. She did however, support the approval of the Kinder Morgan expansion and purchase, as did other Liberal MPs from B.C.
Meanwhile, the Government of Canada and of Alberta have spent millions on a slick ad campaign promoting the pipeline expansion. Within thirty minutes of the court ruling, shrewd Kinder Morgan/Trans Mountain shareholders voted more than 99% in favour of selling, acquiring a large profit. Shortly after, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finalized the purchase, saying he was intent on completing the pipeline expansion, putting the government in a direct conflict of interest in regard to any new First Nations consultations or a NEB process and approvals. 2
I am very honoured that the film was used in many fundraising events to help support the First Nations in their battle, which resulted in such a historic legal victory. This Living Salish Sea is based on facts and science and shows the beauty and diversity of our marine environment. You may watch the film online by clicking on the link at the film website: www.livingsalishsea.ca.
This issue is important, since it is less about the path taken, which we cannot influence, and more about the path ahead, which we can.
Wildfires and climate change, Radio Canada International: http://www.rcinet.ca/en/2018/08/16/british-columbia-wildfires-worse-due-toclimate-change/
Federal court of appeal decision: https://decisions.fca-caf.gc.ca/fca-caf/decisions/en/item/343511/index.do
Robyn Allan, National Observer: https://www.nationalobserver.com/u/robyn-allan