Can someone please explain what ‘national interest’ means?

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
April 16, 2018 - 6:52am Updated: April 16, 2018 - 11:06am

KAMLOOPS — Can someone please provide a clear definition of “the national interest” when it comes to pipelines?

I ask this in the wake of Sunday’s meeting in Ottawa between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers of B.C. and Alberta, which found no common ground on Trans Mountain.

Trudeau re-iterates that the project is “in the national interest,” Rachel Notley insists it must be built, and John Horgan says it should be decided in the courts.

The only thing new is that Trudeau says the federal government will spend tax dollars along with Notley if necessary to help the project succeed, and will look at legislation as well.

Who knows what this really means, any more than what “the national interest” means. The term is supposed to define a country’s aspirations but these days it means pretty much what any politician wants it to mean.

Trudeau’s definition, no doubt, would be his belief we should continue to rely on fossil fuels until we can come up with something better.

Notley’s would be that what’s good for Alberta is good for Canada. Horgan would say that the ultimate national interest is not letting economic objectives ignore protection of the environment.

Whichever definition you prefer, Canada is as divided today as it was before Sunday’s meeting.

Not only do we have B.C. and Alberta at each other’s throats, but Saskatchewan is in Alberta’s corner. Even Quebec has joined the fight, sounding just a little as though it sides with B.C.

Meanwhile, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh appears to have thrown in with Horgan by urging Trudeau to let the courts figure things out.

And Kinder Morgan says it will cancel the whole project if the mess isn’t cleared up by the end of May.

It must and will get resolved one way or another, and there will be winners and losers. But, to politicians, I have one request: please don’t tell us your side is the only one that’s in the national interest.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.