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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

FELDSTED -- The constitution was deliberately written to prevent any province from blocking public works that benefit other provinces or Canada as a whole

Federal NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has many valuable attributes, but a knowledge and understanding of our constitution is not among them. The federal government is empowered to override the provinces on public works that cross provincial boundaries but are for the overall benefit of Canada (such as an oil or gas pipelines).

The federal government has the power to declare a public work within a province a federal undertaking ... if it is to the benefit of Canada (such as a refinery).

The federal government has an obligation, and control, over railways, roads and infrastructure that connects Canada to a sea or inland port, or one province to another (which includes ferries and bridges).

As an example, the federal government has constitutional authority and an obligation to build a first-class rail line connecting our transcontinental rail lines to the Port of Churchill. It cannot sell the rail line, or avoid its constitutional responsibility. The same goes for highways connecting the trans-Canada highways to inland ports at the US border.

For decades, successive federal government have held that portion of the Trans-Canada highway, built in a province, are to the benefit of the province and must be cost shared.

That is nonsense.

The federal government has a constitutional responsibility to undertake the whole cost for the benefit of Canada. The cost-sharing scam has delayed vital improvements to our road links and is inexcusable.

Under Mr. Singh’s NDP plan, we might have no transcontinental rail or road links. The constitution was deliberately written to prevent any province from blocking public works that benefit other provinces or Canada as a whole.

The current federal government has “sold” the rail line to Churchill without constitutional authority to do so -- it is avoiding its responsibility. Upgrading the rail line is an expensive proposition that will not buy votes in Ontario, Quebec or BC, so the government pretends that it can avoid its responsibility.

Our opposition parties have been derelict in not pointing out that the sale is unconstitutional, and that the federal government cannot avoid its responsibilities.

The same is true of federal inaction to block court challenges to building a pipeline. The government has sat on its hands allowing the courts to decide on how our nation should be run, rather than undertaking the tasks it was elected to do.

One of the principles of our legal system is that a plaintiff must show a direct interest in the subject of an action. If an indigenous band wants to challenge construction of a pipeline many miles, away from where it resides, it must show the court that it has a direct link to the work undertaken. A general supposition that the band is responsible for the environment is insufficient.

There is no legal obligation for indigenous people to protect the environment.

The Way I See It ~~ John Feldsted
Political Commentator, Consultant & Strategist
Winnipeg, Manitoba


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