B.C. recruits noted constitutional lawyer for court action over Trans Mountain expansion

The province announced Monday that Joseph Arvay has been appointed external counsel for B.C. in a reference case that could establish whether or not B.C. can restrict bitumen transported through the province.

Joseph Arvay has made arguments in several headline-grabbing court cases

Joseph Arvay will be developing a reference case on behalf of the B.C. government as to whether or not the province can restrict bitumen exports. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

A high-profile constitutional lawyer will represent British Columbia in an upcoming court action over Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The province announced Monday that Joseph Arvay has been appointed external counsel for B.C. in a reference case that could establish whether or not B.C. can restrict bitumen transported through the province.

A reference case is where the court is asked to weigh in on a particular legal matter, often when the constitution or division of powers between the federal and provincial governments is involved.

Premier John Horgan announced plans to refer a constitutional question to the courts last month to resolve questions over B.C.'s legal rights in the latest development in the ongoing dispute over the Trans Mountain pipeline.

That announcement followed Alberta temporarily boycotting B.C. wines in response to the B.C. government's proposed temporary ban on bitumen export increases through B.C.

Arvay has been a participant in several headline-grabbing legal cases over the years.

In 2015, he successfully argued the Carter case, which led to the end of laws forbidding medically assisted death in Canada.

He has also represented prisoners' advocacy groups opposed to solitary confinement in a case that led to time limits on the use of segregation in prisons.

In years past, he has represented now-convicted polygamist Winston Blackmore, as well as student protesters during the APEC inquiry.

He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2017.