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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nimpkish sold as Northern Sea Wolf resumes central coast route

The sale of the Nimpkish was official as of Sept. 20, 2020

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

Williams Lake First Nation inks historic cannabis deal with B.C. government

The agreement paves the way for WLFN to sell cannabis to the government, and open stores across B.C.

Cariboo’s Strongest tests athletes’ mettle

Twenty men and three women took part

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Most Read