According to the CBC Inside Politics blog, Tom Flanagan, a former advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a professor at the University of Calgary and a frequent guest on CBC’s Power and Politics is advocating the use of constitutional override clause to force the completion of the Northern Gateway pipeline. You can read Max Paris’s complete blog Hard advice on Northern Gateway pipeline here.
Flanagan also suggests using the same power to “settle” aboriginal land claims. On Power and Politics he said:
[T]oughness is needed right now. You’ve got to signal that you’re serious about this. No, no, I support that completely. Other advice I’d be giving if I were asked, I’d be researching the constitutional powers of the federal government…the declaratory power which will allow the federal government to declare something to be a work for the national interest. Also a possibility of a legislative settlement of aboriginal claims.
According to the blog “declaratory power” is in section 92(10)(c) of the Constitution Act of 1867. It reads thus:
Such Works as, although wholly situate within the Province, are before or after their Execution declared by the Parliament of Canada to be for the general Advantage of Canada or for the Advantage of Two or more of the Provinces.
The blog also quotes Bruce Ryder, a constitutional law expert and prof at Osgoode Hall, as saying: “It’s a valid legal power that Parliament possesses. To use it would raise an outcry and be intensely controversial from the point of view of constitutional convention or practices that have evolved to reflect contemporary understandings of federalism that treat the provinces and the federal government as equal.”
Ryder figures Flanagan considers B.C. a bit of a wildcard in this whole Northern Gateway Pipeline business. Using 92(10)(c) is his ham-fisted… but totally legal… way of getting around any potential problems with Victoria. It’s Tom’s version of how to crush political dissent and coerce provinces.
Even the hint of a constitutional override can only increase the skepticism and mistrust of the Joint Review Panel and the process. That skepticism and mistrust has been expressed at every single session over the first two weeks, despite the futile attempts by panel chair Sheila Leggett who tries to tell people to leave the criticism until the final argument sessions.