B.C. Attorney General David Eby and Premier John Horgan announce their ill-fated referendum on proportional representation voting, June 2018. (Black Press files)

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

This column has given credit where credit is due to B.C. Attorney General David Eby. Faced with billion-dollar deficits at the Insurance Corp. of B.C., Eby has capped “pain and suffering” awards and moved minor injuries out of court to administrative hearings.

Naturally, the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. is suing the province in an effort to prevent the loss of the hugely increased income its members have extracted from ICBC, partly due to aggressive U.S.-style personal injury tactics adopted by B.C. lawyers.

The association’s lawsuit notes that the average ICBC “pain and suffering” payout for 2016 was $16,499, which is “almost exactly three times the cap” legislated by the B.C. NDP government. Now $5,500 is all you can get, and ICBC is back on its way to solvency after a $1 billion bailout from B.C. taxpayers that was included in this year’s B.C. budget.

The election of Jason Kenney as Alberta premier highlights another one of Eby’s legal adventures, one that isn’t going so well.

B.C. now has lawyers working on two separate Alberta cases. One is arguing that B.C. should be able to regulate petroleum shipments from Alberta (diluted bitumen), and the other suggests that Alberta should not be able to restrict shipments of petroleum to B.C. (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel).

Outgoing NDP premier Rachel Notley passed the “turn off the taps” law but didn’t enact it. Eby rushed his team into court to argue that it’s an unconstitutional infringement on trade, but alas, their case was tossed out.

Come back when there’s an actual law in place, Eby was told. With Kenney in the Alberta premier’s office, that will be soon, and B.C. pump prices will likely be headed towards $2 a litre. In 2018, the original Trans Mountain pipeline shipped more than half its volume as crude to Washington state refineries, with smaller shares to the Burnaby refinery and Westridge terminal for export. The smallest share of pipeline space is refined fuels to B.C., and it’s a safe bet that will get smaller. B.C. may have to buy jet fuel from Asia.

As taxpayers absorbed that billing, B.C.’s bid for jurisdiction over heavy crude shipments from Alberta carries on. It’s a “reference case,” basically asking the B.C. Court of Appeal for advice rather than a ruling.

It’s a pathetic little show for anti-pipeline voters, according to Notley, and she’s polite about it compared to Kenney.

Now comes the threat of legal action by a group of social services agencies, whose union employees are getting raises three times as big as their non-union workers. In some cases this happens within the same contracted agency, running care facilities for developmentally disabled children and adults.

READ MORE: NDP avoids questions about $40M union-only wage fund

READ MORE: B.C. braces for another round of Alberta pipeline battle

The B.C. CEO Network, a Prince George-based group representing more than 120 of these agencies, has served Finance Minister Carole James with notice that if this sweetheart deal with the B.C. Government Employees’ Union and other NDP-friendly unions isn’t fixed, they will go to court.

In a statement released with their lawyer’s letter, the B.C. CEO Network board notes that 17,000 employees are affected. The network represents union, non-union and partially union agencies, which report their wage payments through the Community Social Services Employers Association every year.

Premier John Horgan claimed the “low wage redress” money was withheld from non-union employees because their bosses might keep it without a union contract to set pay. Eby’s might need more lawyers to defend that statement.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii and Bella Bella organizations receive funding for arts and culture

The Community Resilience Through Arts and Culture funded 83 organizations across B.C. this year

Fire ban back in effect for Northwest Fire Centre region

Starting May 24, both Category 2 and Category 3 prohibitions will be in place

This summer Masset RCMP will give positive tickets to youths

More than a dozen community partners are involved in encouraging good behaviour once school is out

New Seven Sisters replacement confirmed

Mental health facility will have 25 beds, up from 20 in current facility

Terrace hospital’s business plan approved

Health Minister’s announcement opens door to construction phase

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Most Read