Are we a country or aren't we?

Two & Out
By James Peters
April 13, 2018 - 11:08am Updated: April 13, 2018 - 1:30pm

THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION of the Trans Mountain debate doesn't really have anything to do with how the pipeline expansion will impact the environment.

Almost all environmental impacts are hypothetical - they may or may not happen, but aren't assured.

The added pipeline capacity will surely result in some bitumen being diverted from diesel-spewing, derailment-prone rail transport to underground pipeline transport.

However, studies show crude oil transport by rail will increase markedly in the next 20 years anyway, even with the new pipeline capacity.

And the fundamental question of Trans Mountain isn't its place in the economy either.

The fundamental question is this: are we a country or aren't we?

In other words, do we identify first as British Columbians or as Canadians, and who's interests do we pursue when priorities clash?

There is a right and a wrong answer.

If the national interest doesn't come before regional interests, then why do we even have a country?

Our government has determined the project is in the national interest, and it has been approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies.

Certainly, lands within BC and waters off our west coast do assume the bulk of the risk here.

I'm not thrilled about it, but I'm less thrilled about living in a place where the will of the federal government and its regulatory bodies doesn't mean anything.

Here in BC, we are already immensely split between two geographic regions - the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island versus the Interior and North.

The chasm between us is evident in what we prioritize and how we vote.

We don't understand each other.

Are we really interested in further rending ourselves from confederation?

Do we want to go down the road Donovan Cavers suggested in a tweet this week, separating from Canada, forming Cascadia?

Over a jurisdictional dispute involving a single project?

John Horgan will meet with his Alberta counterpart and the prime minister in Ottawa this weekend.

Horgan says he's not going to back down, and Rachel Notley says the same.

It's time for Justin Trudeau, so often criticized for being young and not ready, to show he's the adult in the room

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