Saturday, August 04, 2012

Flanagan's Folly

Tom Flanagan beats the drum in this morning's Globe and Mail for the Northern Gateway pipeline and all other pipelines. He cites section 92(10) subsection (a) of the BNA Act which

gives the federal Parliament jurisdiction over railways, canals and “other works and undertakings” (including pipelines in today’s world) extending across provincial boundaries. British Columbia, or any other province, simply does not have constitutional jurisdiction to block a pipeline coming from another province if federal authorities approve it.

However, Mr. Flanagan -- like the religious fundamentalists who are the Conservative Party's base -- makes no room for extenuating circumstances. He does not mention that Mr. Harper was  elected with less than 40% of the popular vote. One can infer that, if 60% of Canadians did not vote for Harper, they did not vote for his policies.

A wiser commentator -- who knew more about Canadian history -- would know that the constitution Mr. Flanagan cites was arrived at through compromise, when the leaders of the colonies north of the American border thrashed out their differences. And -- using the BNA Act as a starting point -- compromise has kept this country together for 145 years. Again this week, Stephen Harper said he did not wish to engage in that process.

The BNA Act is a guide. It is not Holy Writ. Canada cannot be ruled from on high, by decree. Neither the Prime Minister nor Mr. Flanagan understand that. And that is their folly.


The Mound of Sound said...

Flanagan, being out of his depth, has no grasp of the rules of interpretation of statutes. Courts have always recognized the obvious, that no written law can possibly have been meant to encompass all situations or be unlimited or absolute in its application. Reasonability, fairness and abuse are always factors the courts consider in construing constitutional or other governmental powers.

Flanagan is too uneducated and simple-minded to realize this. To this 5-watt bulb, Canada and its government is not subject to the rule of law, powers are subject to the broadest interpretation and the government, within that construction, is not to be restrained. Typical Alberta bullshit.

Owen Gray said...

It's interesting, Mound, that the folks who complained so bitterly about the National Energy Program are now advancing the same arguments in support of Northern Gateway.

I've always been mystified that Stephen Harper -- who has such a hard time dealing with people -- has managed to get this far.

It's painfully obvious that he doesn't have the skills or the temperment to govern Canada.

thwap said...

So the Constitution Act 1867 says: "You can force one province to accept a leaky sludge-way that benefits another party and Communist China" does it?

Flanagan makes as much sense as when he called for the assassination of Julian Assange and then threatened a woman who complained by telling her he knew where she lived.

Owen Gray said...

Knowing that Flanagan once served as Harper's source of inspiration explains a lot, doesn't it thwap.?

sunsin said...

Is there anything in the BNA act that would prevent British Columbia from imposing a hundred million dollar a day wharf fee for supertankers?

Owen Gray said...

That's an interesting question, sunsin. B.C. has the power to tax within its borders. But I don't know about ports.

Like airports, they may be within federal jurisdiction.

The Mound of Sound said...

The City of Vancouver is trying to find some way to prevent passage through Coal Harbour without prescribed insurance coverage or posting some mega-bond, etc. That, I assume, would also require some capacity to board, detain and impound errant tankers.

Owen Gray said...

It would only be common sense to seek insurance in case of accident, Mound.

If you can't drive the public highways without proof of insurance, you should not be able to dock your tanker without proof of adequate insurance against disaster.

The Mound of Sound said...

But you see, Owen, this scam is all about maximizing profits. It is a tribute to cost-cutting and reckless indifference. Conducted properly, where safety and security were paramount, would reveal the pipeline venture to be either marginally profitable at best or, more likely, a seriously losing proposition. The way it is made lucrative is to leave British Columbia at grave risk of disaster. And that is why this venture has so many liability cut-outs. The Players are keenly aware of the downsides to their project and are determined not to be held liable for what they do.

Owen Gray said...

It's interesting, Mound, that these people complain bitterly about the welfare state.

The first thing that Mike Harris -- and Messrs Clement, Flaherty and Baird -- did in government was to cut welfare rates.

But they have no objection to corporate welfare -- in terms of limiting corporate liability.

David Lewis was right. They are bums. But they're much worse than bums.

The Mound of Sound said...

Ah, David Lewis. I got to spend some time with Mr. Lewis (and his delightful wife, Sophie) back in 1974. I spent weeks numbing my backside on a Great Lakes Airways Convair 220 christened "Bum Air" during the general election campaign. While I was far from an NDP supporter I came to deeply admire Lewis. Neat guy.

My favourite Lewis memory was from one really hot summer day in Ottawa. I'm guessing it was 1973. A crowd of angry railway workers had gathered on the front lawns of the Parliament buildings. There was a lot of drinking going on. Heat + booze = fiasco.

The only security back then was a pair of Mounties in scarlet. Over the lunch hour the crowd grew surly and stormed the Centre Block, sweeping the Mounties aside.

David Lewis showed up, waded through the mob, stood on a chair and talked them down. He actually got them to leave when they were quite able to sack the whole place. Remarkable guy.

Owen Gray said...

Lewis was a brilliant guy who grew up in the St. Urbain Street ghetto.

He never forgot where he came from -- and he never lost his sympathy for the common man.

He will be remembered for saying many things. But, to my mind, one of his best rebuttals was the day he pointed at Trudeau across the House and said, "There but for Pierre Trudeau goes God!"

Anonymous said...

"Neither the Prime Minister nor Mr. Flanagan..."

Ah Stevie and Tommie boys in arms...

"During their periods of maximum collaboration Harper and Flanagan have been described as “intellectual soul mates, philosophical soul mates.” A darker view of the relationship has pictured Flanagan as “a modern-day Rasputin manipulating a leader 16 years his junior.”[lix] Together Harper and Flanagan have co-authored a number of essays. In 2004 Marci MacDonald wrote a very rich account of Flanagan entitled “The Man Behind Stephen Harper.” In that essay MacDonald advanced the thesis that much of the output of Harper and Flanagan and the other participants in the Calgary School has been directed at “wiping out the quirky bilateral differences that are stumbling blocks to [Canada’s] seamless integration into the United States.”[lx]"


Owen Gray said...

As time goes by Mogs, it seems that MacDonald's thesis is true. Certainly Harper enthusiastically supports America's foreign and military policy.

He has no reservations about getting closer to the elephant.