Statement from Nathan Cullen on recommendation of the Joint Review Panel for Enbridge Northern Gateway
December 19th, 2013 - 12:54pm
OTTAWA– Today’s recommendation from the Joint Review Panel for the Northern Gateway project is an insult to the people of British Columbia, and an affront to our environment and our way of life. In the face of mountains of evidence and testimony debunking the viability of this project and its proponent, today’s verdict reflects the Harper government’s ongoing race to the bottom on resource development, meaningful consultation and environmental protection.
The panel received over 9,000 letters of comment and heard over 1,000 oral testimonies almost universally in opposition to the project. They heard the 71-strong coalition of First Nations, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the province of British Columbia state their strong opposition to the project. They heard the evidence and the history. And yet it’s clear they only actually listened to one voice in this process: the oil company's.
Northern Gateway would push diluted bitumen through the Great Bear Rainforest and across 800 rivers and streams, including two of British Columbia’s largest salmon watersheds. Supertankers would ply some of the most dangerous waterways, in some of the most sensitive habitats, in the world. It would compromise the fisheries and ecotourism industries that much of our provincial economy relies upon.
Enbridge’s track record speaks for itself. They’ve been responsible for over 800 oil spills since 1999. As recently as May 2013, the company was cited for safety violations at 93% of its pumping stations across Canada. Enbridge has struggled during their $1 billion and three-year struggle to clean up their spill in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, a disaster that came as a result of willing and direct negligence and incompetence.
For the people of northwestern British Columbia, the tragedy of the Kalamazoo River spill is Exhibit A. We watched it unfold at the same time as the Northern Gateway review, where Enbridge’s well-paid representatives held up laboratory-bound studies contradicting what we were seeing happen in the real world. To this day, Enbridge has yet to explain how they would be any better off responding to the disaster of a bitumen spill in the rolling rivers of northern British Columbia when they failed at that same task in the tame waters of the Kalamazoo. And the Joint Review Panel has failed to hold them to account for that.
British Columbians have long wondered what reason they have to trust Enbridge.
But given today’s decision from the Joint Review Panel, British Columbians and Canadians in general are asking what reason they have to trust the Conservative government.
As each piece of the Northern Gateway process has unfolded, the Harper government has tried to instill upon Canadians that this is the new normal. The Joint Review Panel’s decision is just another step along that path to a Canada where there is no longer any room for respecting the will of communities and First Nations. Nothing will stand in the way of a pipeline, no matter the economic and environmental risks in Mr. Harper's world. Thankfully that isn't the world occupied by the majority of Canadians.
We have no intention of letting our rivers, our coast and our communities become Enbridge’s next victim. We’ll continue to refuse Mr. Harper’s vision for Canada as a northern petrostate with no respect for its citizens or the environment. The people of northwestern British Columbia believe in a positive economic future for our region and one that doesn’t include sacrificing who we are and where we live.
Contact: Hugh Pouliot (613) 993-8662 firstname.lastname@example.org