With every court challenge, political stunt, blockade and act of sabotage, the odds have been stacked ever higher against the pipeline happening
After narrowly missing an assassination of Margaret Thatcher by bombing her hotel room in Brighton in 1984, the IRA reminded everyone the odds were still on its side. “Remember we only have to be lucky once,” the terrorists warned the then British prime minister. “You will have to be lucky always.”
That in a nutshell has long been the strategy of those fighting against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. With every court challenge, political stunt, blockade and act of sabotage, the odds have been stacked ever higher against the pipeline happening. Its builders and their political backers might win a few rounds.
But eventually something would stop them. Maybe Thursday’s federal appeals court decision overturning the National Energy Board’s approval of Trans Mountain is that something. Maybe not. But the project will face many more assassination attempts. And it will have to be lucky enough to survive every one.
You can find optimistic spins on this latest setback. They should be ignored. Finance Minister Bill Morneau sounded only positive notes Thursday — that the ruling offered “good direction on next steps” to make sure the pipeline “moves ahead in the right way.” But it is not moving ahead, it’s moving backward. Construction must stop. Trans Mountain has lost its government licence to proceed.
The government need not return to Square One, but the remedies demanded by the appeals court — a new environmental assessment on the effect of more oil tankers on killer whales and a fresh round of consultation with Aboriginals — are not the small matters some people are suggesting.