Even for a desperate politician, B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s attack on the Northern Gateway pipeline was exceptionally mean and stupid. It’s no accident Canadian provinces are not allowed to behave like highwaymen. But it is astounding that Clark doesn’t know it.
There’s nothing wrong with her insistence that a pipeline meet relevant environmental standards. But her demand that Alberta pay, in effect, a ransom or their pipeline gets it is morally outrageous, economically ignorant and legally preposterous. Besides, is she saying she’s willing to disregard environmental risks for enough money?
Her position is legally preposterous because it flies in the face of the text and purpose of our Constitution. Despite occasional claims that Canada defies the normal laws of political economy, we are a federation in the same way and for the same reasons that other nations are: to keep government as small and local as possible without rendering it ineffective.