Good morning! It’s James Keller in Calgary.
The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is facing dozens of formal objections from landowners, First Nations, businesses, municipalities and others along the proposed route.
The process, which is being overseen by the Canadian Energy Regulator, adds another layer of uncertainty to the beleaguered project and could lead to more changes and potential delays.
The regulator has received about 100 applications known as statements of opposition, which outline specific concerns along the route. Some could result in new route hearings or dispute-resolution, which could prompt the CER to order changes to the route, the method of construction, or the construction timeline.
Trans Mountain insists the process shouldn’t pose a major risk to the construction timeline because the Crown corporation has built that process into its planning. A spokeswoman for the corporation also notes that the CER has limited who can bring forward an objection at this point and what concerns they’re allowed to raise.
I talked to a few of the landowners who filed objections.
One of them, David Gray of Langley, B.C., says he wants Trans Mountain to make changes to avoid a wooded area on his property. Mr. Gray says the current construction plan would "leave a scar that doesn’t heal” but he says that could be avoided if Trans Mountain simply moved the route or tunnelled under his land.
“I’m not trying to save the world," he told me. "I’m just trying to save our place.”
In Alberta, Jim Robinson of Niton Junction, who runs a construction company that works in the oil sector, said his land has been rezoned as industrial but Trans Mountain is only willing to compensate him using far-lower agricultural rates.
“I’d like to see the line built because I work in the oil patch and I know it’s a good thing for the economy and Alberta as a whole," he said in an interview.
"I just don’t know why they won’t pay fair market value for land.”
Trans Mountain spokeswoman Ali Hounsell said the process shouldn’t pose a significant risk. The overall pipeline corridor has been approved and the new applications are focused on where exactly the pipeline will go into the ground, which can be modified without affecting the larger schedule.
The pipeline, however, does face more daunting risks. A group of First Nations have filed a new challenge with the Federal Court of Appeal to overturn Ottawa’s approval of the project. The pipeline has also emerged as a significant issue in the campaign ahead of the Oct. 21 federal election.
This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here. This is a new project and we’ll be experimenting as we go, so let us know what you think.
Around the West
TRUCKING: Families connected to the Humboldt Broncos bus crash are urging the Alberta government to back off plans to tighten training and licensing requirements for truckers working in the agricultural industry. The province is considering those changes as part of a wider overhaul of farm safety laws. Premier Jason Kenney insists that farmers shouldn’t be subject to the same rules as commercial truckers.
LEGISLATURE SCANDAL: The B.C. legislature’s Sergeant-at-Arms retired abruptly Tuesday. Gary Lenz, along with Clerk of the House Craig James, was placed on administrative leave with pay last November after the Speaker of the House Darryl Plecas reported allegations of improper spending to the RCMP. In total, the two are accused of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on travel, gifts and other inappropriate benefits over a period of 18 months. An external review by former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin concluded that Mr. James engaged in misconduct but Mr. Lenz did not. Mr. James retired following the release of that report in May.
HUAWEI: Canadian border guards mistakenly gave the RCMP passcodes to electronic devices belonging to Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou, a Crown prosecutor said on Tuesday. Border officers seized Ms. Meng’s cellphones, tablet and other devices and wrote down her passcodes on a piece of paper that they handed to the RCMP when she was arrested. The border agency later realized it had made a mistake and told the RCMP the codes could not be used or shared because they’d been obtained during a CBSA examination, a Crown lawyer said in court.
WINTER WEATHER: Sadie Riendeau had it all planned out. She would marry Kirby Braybrook in Waterton Lakes National Park, where her family vacationed year after year. Mountains, waterfalls, lakes, autumn leaves. The wedding would be outside, with 160 guests. But then, last Wednesday, it started to rain. By Friday, snow. On Saturday, the bridal party posed for pictures outside, despite knee-deep snow. “My dress was absolutely soaked,” the bride, who is now Sadie Braybrook, said Monday. “It felt like my dress was plowing the streets."
FARM SHOOTING: Alberta’s premier says compassion drove him to donate to a Southern Alberta man who is being sued by an intruder he shot on his property last year. Jason Kenney contributed $100 to an online fundraising campaign that has so far raised more than $42,000 for Edouard Maurice’s legal defence. Kenney says it was legitimate for him to make the contribution as a citizen.
QUEBEC LAW: Calgary city council has unanimously passed a motion formally opposing Quebec’s law that bans some public figures from wearing religious symbols and clothing, such as turbans or hijabs. Even before the official vote Monday, eight councillors and Mayor Naheed Nenshi signed off on the motion, meaning it would pass regardless. Nenshi says it’s important for the city to take a stand, and to tell its own citizens of minority faiths that council stands for them and by them.
PARENTING: For more than a decade, three gay families have allowed documentary filmmaker Julia Ivanova to follow them at close range as they’ve built their households through adoption, surrogacy and co-parenting in Nova Scotia and British Columbia. My Dads, My Moms and Me, Ivanova’s new documentary, is an intimate look at the home lives of these gay parents and their teenage children – their good days and their bad days, their closeness and their challenges. There is 13-year-old Jack, adopted by dads Drew and Randy in Vancouver and struggling as a teen. On Nanaimo’s Protection Island, 16-year-old Zea is co-parented by her gay dad Steve and her two lesbian moms, Wendy and Cory, as she battles a chronic illness. And in Halifax, fathers (and hockey dads) Scott and Darren are raising their 12-year-old twins Ella and Mac, conceived through surrogacy.
Gary Mason on the Conservative’s energy corridor: Spending $100-billion (and likely far more) on an investment that could be obsolete by the time it’s completed would be foolhardy. While the idea makes for great fodder on the campaign trail, in reality it’s a promise that’s largely empty.
Adrienne Tanner on guns: In Vancouver, there were three shootings over a 15-hour period this week. In Toronto, 14 people were shot during the August long weekend. And although it is likely most of those guns entered Canada illegally, it doesn’t take more studies to see a ban would remove some handguns from the street.
André Picard on birth tourism: Neither Canadian identity nor the Canadian health system is threatened by birth tourism. The central issue is fair play: Canada should remain a welcoming country but not one whose citizenship is for sale.