You pushed the clip out of the line? That's wrong. You don't push the clip out of the line like on the older Fords with the fingernail heads. You press IN the flat white side of the clip and push the line slightly in at the same time to release. That means that the side you think is the hardest is the easiest. On the other side, follow the line back towards the tank about 6" away from the filter, and there is an easy clip to reach. Remove the filter with this small section of line.
I am interested in seeing a stainless steel version of the clip. It should still work the same way, but if you keep trying to push it out from the back side- that could damage the fuel line which would be very expensive.
I'd go back with the plastic clips- buut, it's easier for me. I'm not sure what parts stores you have up there in NS. At O'Reilleys we can get clips with each filter if you purchase the store brand- a name I can't remember right now. I think it's Microguard. I have like 8 of them, and now throw them away.
I wish I could've known you had this problem and I'd have sent you some.
Once again, the reason you're breaking the clips is because of how you're removing the lines. Press the clip in, push the line forward or wiggle, and pull it apart.