EDITORIAL: The Trans Mountain decision just delivered a gusher of legal clarity (Globe and Mail – February 5, 2020)


In August, 2018, after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed Ottawa’s approval of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion, there was a national hue and cry over what seemed like constant setbacks for industrial projects. Some people were saying it had become impossible to get anything built in this country.

That view turns out to have been exaggerated. The 2018 ruling was not a sweeping condemnation of Trans Mountain. Instead, the court largely signed off on the federal government’s approval of the project, except for two specific failings: a failure to weigh the negative impact of oil tankers on marine life, and inadequate Indigenous consultations.

The court’s 2018 decision was, essentially, a paint-by-numbers guide to finishing those two steps, doing so in a reasonable time, and getting the project going.

So, the federal government got back to work. The additional environmental review was conducted and Indigenous consultation efforts were redoubled. Ottawa reapproved the pipeline last June.

There is indeed a high legal bar to getting a major project approved in Canada – but it can be cleared. That was on display in Tuesday’s Federal Court of Appeal ruling, upholding Ottawa’s second approval of Trans Mountain.

For the rest of this editorial: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/article-the-trans-mountain-decision-just-delivered-a-gusher-of-legal-clarity/

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