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B.C. Court of Appeal to hear province’s oil-transport reference case Monday

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  • VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s Court of Appeal will consider a key question regarding provincial powers in the political battle over the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project during a five-day hearing that starts Monday.

    The B.C. government’s reference case asks the court if the province has jurisdiction to regulate the transport of oil through its territory and restrict bitumen shipments from Alberta.

    Specifically, it asks if proposed amendments to British Columbia’s Environmental Management Act are valid and if they give the province the authority to control the shipment of heavy oils based on the impact spills could have on the environment, human health or communities.

    The province is also asking the court whether the amendments are overridden by federal law.

    Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have said only Ottawa, not the provinces, has the authority to decide what goes in trans-boundary pipelines.

    Alberta and Saskatchewan have both filed documents as interested parties supporting the federal government in the case.

    When B.C. filed the reference case last year, Alberta announced it would ban B.C. wines and accused Premier John Horgan of trying to break the rules of Confederation in newspaper ads.

    Last  summer, the Federal Appeal Court overturned approval of the project to triple oil shipments from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., ruling that the National Energy Board had not properly considered its impact on marine life nor had Ottawa meaningfully consulted with Indigenous groups.

    Last month, the board found that the pipeline is still in the public interest despite the risk that an increase in tanker traffic could adversely affect southern resident killer whales, hurt related Indigenous culture and increase greenhouse gas emissions. It added 16 new recommendations for federal government action in addition to the 156 conditions in its initial approval in 2016.

    The federal government purchased the pipeline last year.

    Trudeau has said the expansion is in the best interests of all Canadians and his government has committed $1.5 billion to an ocean protection plan that includes millions for research on B.C. killer whales.

    Horgan said last year the aim of the case is to protect the province’s coastline and economy from the harms of an oil spill.

    “We believe it is our right to take appropriate measures to protect our environment, economy and our coast from the drastic consequence of a diluted bitumen spill,” Horgan said in a statement when the reference case was announced last April.

    “And we are prepared to confirm that right in the courts.”

    Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


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    Scheer accuses Trudeau of ‘stacking the deck’ to get re-elected

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  • OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the Liberals’ decision to name an anti-Conservative union to a panel that will decide which media outlets receive government funding is the latest example of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “stacking the deck” in his favour to get re-elected in October.

    Scheer told The Canadian Press today he believes the decision to include Unifor on the panel — which will determine eligibility for a $600-million bailout package —is unacceptable and will undermine the credibility of the panel’s work.

    Unifor has campaigned against the Conservative party and the union has recently published tweets calling itself Scheer’s “worst nightmare.”

    Scheer says this is the latest in a string of moves by Trudeau to give himself an upper hand ahead of the fall federal election.

    He also points to changes made to pre-election spending for political parties that impose restrictions that he says mainly affect the Conservative party, while no limits have been placed on government spending or travel in advance of the writ period.

    Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has defended Unifor’s place on the panel, saying the union represents over 12,000 journalists and media workers and has been included among other journalism groups to ensure broad representation from the industry.

    The Canadian Press

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    Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

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  • Toronto police say it’s “impressive” that they didn’t have to arrest anyone after the Raptors’ historic win on Saturday night sent thousands of celebratory fans careening onto the streets.

    The roar of fans cheering and chanting “We the North” and “Let’s go Raptors” flooded the downtown core after Canada’s sole NBA team earned a spot in the final for the first time in franchise history.

    On social media, videos emerged of fans running into intersections and dancing on top of streetcars and buses, but on Sunday, police spokeswoman Katrina Arrogante confirmed that not a single arrest was made.

    “It’s impressive. It certainly is,” said Arrogante. “We’re amazed — police were there to keep the peace and that’s exactly what happened.”

    The festivities ramped up shortly after 11 p.m. when the Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 100-94, becoming the Eastern Conference champions and advancing to the NBA Finals.

    Earlier in the day, fans lined up for hours to pack Jurassic Park, but a thunderstorm prompted Toronto police to post on Twitter that they wouldn’t open the fan zone on schedule because of safety concerns. The ban was lifted an hour later and Jurassic Park quickly overflowed with Raptors supporters who braved the rain to watch the game outside Scotiabank Arena.

    There was a heavy police presence as some fans got rowdy, but officers say everyone managed to stay out of trouble as the celebrations continued.

    Arrogante said officers were called to various spots around the city to assist with crowd control and directing traffic, but no one was arrested. She said she saw videos of fans dancing on streetcars but said there were no reported injuries, and in terms of arrests: “nothing came out of that,” she said.

    “It turned out better than it could have,” said Arrogante.

    She said police will be out again Thursday night when the Raptors play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors in Game 1 and she hopes fans will continue to have fun safely.

    Arrogante said fans planning on drinking should get a designated driver or take public transit.

    “We’re reminding anyone that is going to be celebrating or taking part in any events forthcoming of the playoffs, is to be respectful.”

    Alanna Rizza, The Canadian Press

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