As the rule of law forbids these personal interests and considerations to wade into the application of the law, it would be inconsistent with the constitutional principle for a social licence to be determinative of a project’s approval.
The deplorable violent demonstrations during the National Energy Board’s hearings on the Energy East pipeline in Montreal, and Tuesday’s announcement the hearings have been suspended indefinitely, provide more proof Ottawa’s pursuit of social licence for major energy projects is pointless, even harmful.
Instead of producing more opportunity for public input and building credibility of regulatory reviews, the hearings have degenerated into a soap opera. The result? More delays.
The NEB said Tuesday it needs to rule on whether two of the three panel members overseeing the review can continue. Motions have been filed demanding their resignation, based on claims in a news report they met former Quebec premier Jean Charest, when he was a paid lobbyist for TransCanada Corp., Energy East’s proponent.
Similarly, the additional consultations ordered by the Liberals on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion proposal have turned into a parade of naysayers demanding its cancellation, even thought it has already been approved by the NEB after a thorough and costly review.
The pursuit of social licence by beefing up regulatory reviews is part of the Justin Trudeau/Rachel Notley gameplan to build support for proposed oil pipelines by upping the ante on climate change policy.
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