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Response to Tom Flanigan’s “To connect the pipeline, connect the dots” published in the Globe and Mail August 7, 2012

August 5, 2012
The Editors
The Globe and Mail
444 Front St.
Toronto, Ontario
Dear Sir/Madam,
In his enthusiasm for the muscular use of federal constitutional authority to compel reluctant provinces to accept the infrastructure necessary to implement the Harper government's oil sands focussed economic strategy, Tom Flanagan ("To connect the pipeline, connect the dots" August 4th) neglects a few inconvenient truths. While s.92(10) of the Constitution Act may provide Ottawa with the formal legal authority to override the British Columbia government's objections to the Northern Gateway pipeline, it certainly would not address the underlying political conflicts. Indeed, invoking the federal declatory power, which has not been exercised in more than half a century, would set off a new round of major federal-provincial conflicts, as well as being likely to ensure a shut-out of Conservative members of the House of Commons from BC for at least the next half-century. Secondly, s.92(10) does not provide a mechanism for overriding the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of the BC First Nations along the proposed pipeline route, who have made their opposition to the project abundantly clear. What Prof. Flanagan proposes is a strategy for inflaming, not resolving the political and legal disputes over the Northern Gateway and similar projects. A more realistic approach would recognize the Northern Gateway for the lost cause that it is, and focus instead on an energy strategy that advances environmental, economic and social sustainability.
Yours sincerely,
Mark S. Winfield, Ph.D.