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.