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  • Writer's pictureFred Guerin

Viewpoint: Divide and conquer tactic

There is nothing more contemptible than a government that goes out of its way to appease a corporate hustler. Of course, none of this is new.

Canada has never shied away from giving the nuclear and oil and gas industries hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money in the form of grants, loans, benefits, subsidies and tax breaks; the only difference is that conservatives tend to be upfront about their corporate giveaways while liberals tend to operate in the back rooms.

That has all changed with Kinder Morgan. Neither Kinder Morgan nor the federal government really anticipated the depth of local resistance to the pipeline project. Nor did they seriously consider the possibility that the courts might actually quash the whole thing under Section 35 of the Canadian constitution that recognizes and affirms the rights of indigenous peoples.

They do now, in fact, so much so that finance minister Bill Morneau recently said the Liberal government is “prepared…to indemnify the project against any financial loss that derives from (BC) premier (John) Horgan’s attempts to delay or obstruct the project.”

No doubt Morneau’s announcement was intended to reassure Kinder Morgan shareholders that the Trudeau government is on their side, even if it costs Canadian taxpayers. But it can also be interpreted as a classic divide and conquer tactic: urge Canadians to conclude that BC is a rogue province, indifferent to national interests and a financial liability to the rest of the country.

Then the National Energy Board, Alberta premier Rachel Notley and prime minister Justin Trudeau can claim that the federal government has the right to override the laws of provinces and local communities for the sake of all Canadians, that is, all Canadians except the first nations.

Remember them? They were told by Trudeau and company that Canada would “advance reconciliation and renew the relationship with indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.”

What the federal government has crassly demonstrated is that words like reconciliation, recognition, respect, cooperation and partnership have no ethical standing.

Instead, they function as convenient political and public relations language that can always be trumped by corporate interests.

[This article first appeared in the PowellRiver Peak:]

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