B.C.’s NDP government will be appealing a B.C. Appeal Court ruling where a five-judge panel unanimously agreed that the province has no constitutional right to restrict the transport of bitumen through inter-provincial pipelines.
Attorney General David Eby announced in Vancouver on Friday, just a few hours after the court decision was released, that the case would be brought to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“While we are disappointed with the decision, our courts have an important role to play in upholding the rule of law. That is why we referred this question to the courts in the first place,” he told reporters.
“We continue to believe we have the ability and authority to protect our environment and economy, so we will exercise our right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.”
Reference cases are automatically heard by Canada’s top court.
. @jjhorgan is in #KelownaBC for a wildfire-related announcement, but of course the first unrelated Q out of the gate was about this morning's decision. Says he's disappointed.
Meanwhile, @Dave_Eby in #VancouverBC says gov will be appealing, taking the case to Canada's top court. https://t.co/jRNZ5KZP5j
— Ashley Wadhwani (@ashwadhwani) May 24, 2019
Premier John Horgan called the decision disappointing while at an unrelated funding announcement in Kelowna.
The decision by the B.C. Appeal Court notably marks a win for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which has been a contentious project pitting Alberta and B.C. politicians and tax payers against one another.
It's official: Courts have unanimously ruled that B.C. has no authority to ban Alberta oil in a pipeline.@JustinTrudeau, it's time for you to do the right thing. Stand up for Alberta and all of Canada and build #TMX, now. pic.twitter.com/uhePPNx0qd
— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) May 24, 2019
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion. Construction was paused last August after the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the federal permits.
The project would triple the pipeline’s capacity to carry diluted bitumen from the Edmonton area to Metro Vancouver, and increase the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet seven-fold.
The province had filed a constitutional reference question to the B.C. Court of Appeal that asked whether it had the authority to create a permitting regime for companies that wished to increase their flow of diluted bitumen.
A five-judge panel agreed unanimously that the amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act were not constitutional because they would interfere with the federal government’s exclusive jurisdiction over inter-provincial pipelines.
Justice Mary Newbury wrote on behalf of the panel that the substance of the proposed amendments were to place conditions on and, if necessary, prohibit the movement of heavy oil through a federal undertaking.
Former Alberta premier Rachel Notley was quick to comment on the court decision.
“Turns out B.C.’s toolbox was more Fisher Price than DeWalt. This is a good day for people with toolboxes all across Canada,” she wrote.
When BC threatened to block our oil, we used the wine ban to force them to court. The result is this decision, creating investor certainty for AB.
— Rachel Notley (@RachelNotley) May 24, 2019
With files from Laura Kane, The Canadian Press