NEWS BULLETIN file People protest outside the Vancouver Island University gymnasium during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s town hall there this winter.

LETTERS: All Canadians have rights in pipeline disagreement

The letter writer takes a narrow, outdated view of Canada’s constitution…

To the editor,

Re: Pipeline opposition is unconstitutional, Letters, April 12.

Unfortunately, the letter writer takes a narrow, outdated view of Canada’s constitution as it relates to Alberta’s and Canada’s attempt to bulldoze the Trans Mountain pipeline through British Columbia. Since 1982, Canada’s constitution has included Section 35(1): “The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal people in Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.”

A number of court cases have spelled out what those rights include and they give First Nations protection against companies riding roughshod over their territory. First Nations have to be consulted in a meaningful way and this has not happened. As a result several First Nations in the pathway of Trans Mountain have launched a court case in the Federal Court of Appeal against the National Energy Board’s approval of the project.

Prime Minister Trudeau has not dealt honestly either with First Nations or with the rest of Canadian society. In a fine-sounding campaign promise in 2015, Trudeau said “while governments grant permits for resource development, only communities can grant permission.” How can he square that with his present decision that the Trans Mountain will be built regardless of community opposition?

Although this issue will keep constitutional lawyers busy for some time it is much more than a constitutional squabble. Scientists have genuine concern over the impact of a bitumen spill on the British Columbia coastline and the B.C. government is right to demand a halt to construction until there can be assurance that the coast will be protected.

Jim Manly, Nanaimo

To the editor,

Re: Pipeline opposition is unconstitutional, Letters, April 12.

The PM may be suggesting the pipeline is in the national interest, but it’s not. It’s in Kinder Morgan’s interests. They make the money. We the citizens of B.C. get to do the clean up when there are oil spills on land and ocean. It’s not like the oil industry has been good at cleaning up after themselves. Cleaning up the abandoned gas and oil wells in Alberta will cost the Albertan government approximately $8 billion. The court in Alberta ruled bankrupt oil companies’ remaining funds will go to pay creditors first and not the clean up of the oil wells, which in many cases sit on people’s properties.

Quebec has already signaled discomfort over Trudeau’s attitude towards pushing the pipeline through B.C. It’s a matter of provincial rights. This issue is not for the politicians and their financial supporters in the oil and gas industry to decide but rather the Supreme Court of Canada. Alberta and its foreign oil friends in the tar/oil business can surely wait until the courts decide what the constitution has to say about all of this.

As to the federal government’s threats to withhold money, sure go for it. My suggestion: levy fees on wheat and on everything coming through our harbours. We will have to make up the money somehow. Of course should the federal government go this route, other provinces may decide confederation isn’t such a good idea if the interests of foreign oil companies take precedence over the interests of the citizens of Canada. Is pandering to the interests of American oil companies and China really what Canada is all about?

E.A. Foster, Nanaimo

The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.

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