Supreme Court rejects B.C.’s move to block Trans Mountain
The Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously rejected British Columbia’s move to regulate the flow of heavy oil across its borders, resolving one of the last court challenges to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
According to the Financial Post, after all-day hearings Thursday, Supreme Court justices dismissed B.C.’s appeal of a lower court decision, which found that interprovincial trade is federal jurisdiction and the flow of commodities such as heavy oil and bitumen should be overseen by federal regulators.
“We are all of the view to dismiss the appeal for the unanimous reasons of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia,” Chief Justice of Canada Richard Wagner said from the bench after dozens of lawyers from across the country presented arguments.
The B.C. Court of Appeal, the province’s highest court, ruled in March 2019 that the province cannot restrict the flow of heavy oil from Alberta across its border.
“At the end of the day, the (National Energy Board) is the body entrusted with regulating the flow of energy resources across Canada to export markets,” Justice Mary Newbury wrote in her decision, which also noted “the (Trans Mountain expansion) project is not only a ‘British Columbia project’.”
“The project affects the country as a whole, and falls to be regulated taking into account the interests of the country as a whole,” she wrote.
The reference case was widely seen as an attempt by B.C. Premier John Horgan’s NDP government to thwart the project.
“The Trans Mountain pipeline project is the only project that would require a hazardous materials permit under the proposed legislation. That is no coincidence,” Maureen Killoran, a partner with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP acting on behalf of Trans Mountain, said in her argument to the court.