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. 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

This image shows the Kitsumkalum community hall. The First Nation is about to head to the polls to elect a new council. (Brittany Gervais/Terrace Standard)
All-candidates forum planned for Kitsumkalum election

Virtual meeting set for evening of Feb. 8

Kitselas First Nation received a round of COVID-19 vaccine shots. (Kitselas First Nation image)
Kitselas receives COVID-19 vaccine

Delivery of vaccine was expedited after cluster of cases in community

Northern Health has issued COVID-19 exposure notices for Uplands Elementary School and Centennial Christian School in Terrace. (COVID-19/ CDC Image)
Two more COVID-19 exposure notices issued for schools in Terrace

Exposures took place at Uplands Elementary School and Centennial Christian School

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

SAR crews worked late into the night Tuesday to rescue an injured snowboarder in North Vancouver. (Facebook/North Shore Rescue)
Complicated, dangerous rescue saves man in avalanche near Cypress Mountain

North Shore SAR team braves considerable conditions to reach injured snowboarder

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in waters south of Vancouver Island

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

In this undated image made from a video taken by the Duke of Sussex and posted on @SaveChildrenUK by the Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, shows the Duchess of Sussex reading the book “Duck! Rabbit!” to their son Archie who celebrates his first birthday on Wednesday May 6, 2020. The Canadian Paediatric Society is reminding families that the process of raising a reader starts from birth. (Duke of Sussex/@SaveChildrenUK)
Canadian Paediatric Society says raising a reader starts from birth

CPS says literacy is one of the strongest predictors of lifelong health outcomes

Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough responds to a question during a news conference Thursday August 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Easing rules for parental benefits created inequities among parents, documents say

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office says the government will make any necessary changes

People walk along a pedestrianized zone of Sainte-Catherine street in Montreal, Monday, May 18, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Newly released statistics point to a major drop in police-recorded crime during the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Crime down in first 8 months of pandemic, but mental health calls rise: StatCan

The agency says violent crimes such as assault dropped significantly

Cowichan Tribes chief Squtxulenhuw (William Seymour) confirmed the first death in the First Nations community from COVID-19. (File photo)
Cowichan Tribes confirms 1st death amid growing COVID-19 outbreak

Shelter-in-place order has been extended to Feb. 5

(Pixabay)
B.C. teacher gets 1 day suspension after ‘aggressively’ throwing dumbbell at student

Documents show the weight would have hit the student if they didn’t catch it

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
B.C. ramping up screening for faster-spreading COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’

B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February

Most Read