I was at first displeased with how the government responded to the court’s decision to sideline the pipeline expansion, but I understand they are in a tight spot. They can decide to strong arm their way through – à la con- or they can keep everyone talking, but the latter option offers no guarantee of success. Should another deadline pass without an agreement to proceed with the expansion, there will be a hit to the Canadian economy, shouldered largely by Albertan folks. As the government struggles with the lost revenue opportunities, it must also prepare for Election 2019 and the negative publicity deriving from the pipeline project derailment. It is also honour bound to obtain permission to proceed with the project from the Indigenous folks living along the pipeline corridor. What will the government do?
Herein lay the test of the government’s mettle.
Personally, I am encouraged that our government is re-engaging the Indigenous communities in further dialogue, but if they are going to push the project ahead using the courts should they emerge without an agreement, then why bother re-engaging at all?
I don’t know how these things are supposed to work, but I am thinking, given that the approval of multiple Indigenous communities is required, would it not be better if first the relevant Indigenous stakeholders met to see if there is potential to resolve band-specific concerns and to develop a framework for the expansion upon which they could all agree? It could take some time, but they might be able to come up with something because they would be going about things without outside interference or influence. If they are successful in developing a framework, they could present it to the government negotiators and perhaps a final agreement can be forged. If not, all bets are off in my book, and the wishes of the Indigenous folks needs must be respected.
It is the best way forward, but you can bet the government’s political opponents will condemn whatever the government chooses to do even it’s what they themselves would have done. The Trudeau government could lose power over it. The cons will be screaming blue murder if any jobs are lost because the expansion did not happen; or they will be screaming blue murder if any Indigenous rights were violated because the expansion did happen. If the country votes blue next election many economically and socially vulnerable Canadians and their children will no longer be under the care of an Ottawa crew that is spirited to steer Canada(and encourage the world to follow) back onto the path which leads to social and economic justice. For Liberal and NDP governments, social and economic justice are objectives; modern Conservative governments only pay lip service to them. They are wilfully disingenuous toward those who would benefit from the furtherance of social and economic justice to get their vote;they are not asked to provide specifics, neither do they offer any. Instead, they offer tax breaks of immense benefit to corporate investors, reducing government tax receipts and the ability to fund social programs and progressive economic initiatives such as green energy and infrastructure.
These folks are not the Progressive Conservatives of old. The modern version does not appear to understand that all those who live in Canada, who call Canada ‘home,’ are Canadians: the Liberals strive to reverse the social and economic fracturing of Canadian society—the Cons don’t want too much to do with any of that; they want to do business; ‘make hay while the sun shines,’ even as their office building (our nation) is falling apart all around them. Oh, we’ll wise up eventually and vote them out, but for many of our vulnerable Canadian brothers and sisters it will be too late.