Harper Betrayed BC when he said Yes to the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Harper Betrayed BC when he said Yes to the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Originally Published on the ECOreport

enbridgeroute-map

Accepting the pipeline was an abdication of responsibility.  It is fitting that neither Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper or his cabinet remained behind to talk to reporters. That was left for the Liberals, NDP and Green parties. Harper betrayed BC when he said Yes to the Northern Gateway Pipeline.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May dismissed the Nation Energy Board’s (NEB) “report” as an Enbridge publicity document. The industry still does not know how to clean up dilbit and she said the bill for Enbridge’s spill on the Kalamazoo is now expected to reach $1 billion.

Close-up of Tom Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition  – Photo by Tim Ehlich, in Joe Cressy’s photostream, CC by SA 2.0
Close-up of Tom Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition – Photo by Tim Ehlich, in Joe Cressy’s photostream, CC by SA 2.0

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair noted that the government’s failure to govern extends to their obligations to the First Nations. They left that to the “proponents of the pipeline.” (i.e. – Enbridge)

On the surface, BC’s Minister of Environment, Mary Polack, appears to have given a reassuring response. She says that, as of yesterday, only one of BC’s five conditions was met.

Though many question whether the NEB’s review is worthy of that name, the BC government’s first condition was “a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel and subsequent approval by federal cabinet that the project proceed.” They said nothing about the adequacy of that review. The responsibility for determining if their was a real environmental review has been left to the courts. As stated, Ms Polack can truthfully say the condition was met.

B.C. Green Party leader Adam Olsen
B.C. Green Party leader Adam Olsen

BC’s Green party believe there should be a sixth condition. These tankers would be carrying diluted bitumen, which sinks to the bottom when spilled in the ocean.  This makes it unlikely that even the best trained and equipped marine response team (condition four) would be able to handle a spill.

“The BC government has stated that they have the power to stop the Enbridge pipeline through the 60 required provincial government permits. Yet so far the government has largely sat on the sidelines, neglecting to make any concrete commitments one way or the other.

“… This is our coast they are putting at risk. British Columbians expect Northern Gateway to be rejected by their provincial government, and we expect it today,” said B.C. Green Party leader Adam Olsen”

Salmon were spawning in this creek in Barnard Harbour during our visit. The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline would cross more than 1,000 salmon streams and rivers in B.C – Courtesy the Dogwood, CC by Sa 2.0 Initiative
Salmon were spawning in this creek in Barnard Harbour during our visit. The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline would cross more than 1,000 salmon streams and rivers in B.C – Courtesy the Dogwood, CC by Sa 2.0 Initiative

In their original press release, the BC government said their answer is “no” until:

“Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project”

Yesterday the Minister talked about Enbridge having to establish appropriate relations with First Nations and giving them opportunities, but made no reference to “Aboriginal and treaty rights.”

While this may be an oversight, it is also a clause we must ensure is respected.

Windy Beach (Click on image to expand) – Karen Neoh, CC by SA 2.0
Windy Beach (Click on image to expand) – Karen Neoh, CC by SA 2.0

BC’s First Nations were quick to issue a statement about the approval of the pipeline which I am going to quote in its entirety:

Today, we unequivocally reject the Harper Government’s decision to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway tanker and pipelines project and First Nations will immediately go to court to vigorously pursue all lawful means to stop the Enbridge project.



We have governed our lands, in accordance to our Indigenous laws, since time immemorial.

Our inherent Title and Rights and our legal authority over our respective territories have never been surrendered.

Our inherent rights are human rights constitutionally enshrined, judicially recognized and embodied in international legal instruments including the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.



This project, and the federal process to approve it, violated our rights and our laws. We are uniting to defend our lands and waters of our respective territories. Our rights and laws compel us to act.

Enbridge’s Northern Gateway tanker and pipeline project exposes all communities from Alberta to the Pacific Coast to the undeniable risk of pipeline and supertanker oil spills. First Nations and the majority of British Columbians believe this project poses an unacceptable risk to the environment, the health, the safety and livelihoods of all peoples throughout this province.

We will defend our territories whatever the costs may be.



Council of the Haida Nation
Gitanmaax Band Council
Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs
Gitgaat
Gitxaala
Gitxsan (Delgamuukw)
Haisla
Heiltsuk
KitasooXai’xais
Lax kw’alaams
Metlakatla
NadlehWhut’en
Nak’azdli
Neskonlith Indian Band
Office of the Wet’suwet’en
Saikuz First Nation
Takla Lake
Tlazten
Tsetsaut / Skii km Lax Ha
Tsleil-Waututh Nation
Wet’suwet’en First Nation
Williams Lake Indian Band
Xatsull
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council
Coastal First Nations
St’at’imc Chiefs Council
Tahltan Central Council
Yinka Dene Alliance
BC Assembly of First Nations
First Nations Summit
Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Oil Tanker at Anchor (Click on image to expand) – Joyce Cory, CC by SA 2.0
Oil Tanker at Anchor (Click on image to expand) – Joyce Cory, CC by SA 2.0

In a press release, issued yesterday, Ecojustice noted that 96% of the comments submitted to the NEB oppose the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

The Northern Gateway pipeline would lock Canada into at least another 30 years of oilsands development and undermine efforts to slow climate change. The 1,177 km pipeline would cross hundreds of fish-bearing streams, rivers and lakes; fragment endangered wildlife habitat; and clear the way for up to 220 new tankers to carry bitumen through the narrow passages of B.C.’s north coast to Asian markets each year. It will also cut through the traditional territories of more than 40 First Nations and Aboriginal groups – many of which stand in opposition to the pipeline.

“If anything, the hearings proved that Enbridge cannot be trusted to build and operate a pipeline that exposes some of our most precious watersheds and ecosystems to the risk of a catastrophic oil spill,” said Nikki Skuce, senior energy campaigner with ForestEthics Advocacy.

“While Enbridge has overcome another hurdle with this federal approval, the company continues to face a wall of opposition in B.C. that won’t come down until Northern Gateway is dead.”

Erin Flanagan, analyst at the Pembina Institute, said “The oilsands sector is already Canada’s fastest-growing source of carbon pollution, yet there are no federal regulations to limit that growth. We are very concerned about Cabinet’s decision to approve a project that will allow oilsands development — and its associated carbon pollution — to grow faster at a time when industry and regulators are failing to manage the impacts and risks of current production.”

Click on image to access Let BC Vote Website
Click on image to access Let BC Vote Website

Six thousand volunteers have signed up with the Dogwood Intiative to gather signatures for a citizens movement similar to that which brought about the repeal of the HST in 2010. Dogwood launched a website called LetBCvote.ca.

Other BC’s environmental groups have put up online petitions you can sign:

As Tom Mulcair pointed out, the acceptance of this pipeline is “already an election issue in British Columbia … that’s why the more than (province’s) more than twenty Conservative MP’s are hiding under their desks right now.”

The NDP, Liberals and Greens all promise to set aside the Northern Gateway Pipeline decision, if they form the next government, and all intend to develop the oil sands.

Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands – Courtesy B.C. Green Party
Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of Canada’s Green Party

Both Mulcair and May believe the bitumen should be processed in Alberta. That would add 40,000 jobs to the local economy. May said if you kept production of bitumen to 2 million barrels a day and processed it in Northern Alberta “you would not have these fights over pipelines.”

Though no one wants a spill, May said oil spills are less damaging to the environment. Gas and oil evaporate, bitumen settles and you end up with situations like the Kalamazoo where they are still cleaning up after three years.

She stressed the fact that cleaner pipelines are needed for refined oil, otherwise you damage the product.

Mulcair had a suggestion that would protect BC’s $ 14 billion tourist industry. The pipelines should go east from Alberta and the oil tankers navigate through the St Lawrence.

Other Articles about the Propoesed Northern Gateway Project on the ECOreport:


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About the Author

is the editor of the ECOreport (www.theecoreport.com), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America and writes for both Clean Techncia and PlanetSave. He is a research junkie who has written hundreds of articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.
  • darrell

    All the talk and threats by FN is about ONE THING .
    That thing is THE DEAL ,
    Think of this as a poker game , the FN have an unbeatable hand and they know it . What separates a good player from an average player is getting maximum value for your hand
    Do FN get maximum value by
    A – complying with Endbridge from the start or
    B – by threatening to take each and every avenue to stop the pipeline
    We all know the answer is B
    The bigger and louder the talk , the better the deal .
    With all the time spent so far , don’t you people think Enbridge is unaware of things .
    FN talk about being environmentalists .
    Thje truth is , actions speak louder than words , here are some actions of FN .
    FN members work in the oil patch .
    FN companies are involved in the pipeline business
    FN companies are involved in clearcutting , road building , in pristine forests , fish killing run of the river hydro projects in BC .
    Some FN companies are just as bad (green ways) as any other company .
    I am not saying the FN are wrong for doing the above things , just that they do them .
    Take their protests with a grain of salt and remember “IT’s ABOUT THE DEAL” nothing more , nothing less .
    If Enbridge offered each directly affected FN 500 million , the deal would be done .
    The bottom line is most of us are whores if the price is right , we will take the cash and do ………………………….. whatever .

  • darrell

    All the talk and threats by FN is about ONE THING .
    That thing is THE DEAL ,
    Think of this as a poker game , the FN have an unbeatable hand and they know it . What separates a good player from an average player is getting maximum value for your hand
    Do FN get maximum value by
    A – complying with Endbridge from the start or
    B – by threatening to take each and every avenue to stop the pipeline
    We all know the answer is B
    The bigger and louder the talk , the better the deal .
    With all the time spent so far , don’t you people think Enbridge is unaware of things .
    FN talk about being environmentalists .
    Thje truth is , actions speak louder than words , here are some actions of FN .
    FN members work in the oil patch .
    FN companies are involved in the pipeline business
    FN companies are involved in clearcutting , road building , in pristine forests , fish killing run of the river hydro projects in BC .
    Some FN companies are just as bad (green ways) as any other company .
    I am not saying the FN are wrong for doing the above things , just that they do them .
    Take their protests with a grain of salt and remember “IT’s ABOUT THE DEAL” nothing more , nothing less .
    If Enbridge offered each directly affected FN 500 million , the deal would be done .
    The bottom line is most of us are whores if the price is right , we will take the cash and do ………………………….. whatever .

  • Robert J. Muir

    Harper IS Canada, he has single handedly destroyed everything I stand for as a Canadian, broke every law in the book, and he is still smiling on like a fool much like George W. Bush, and every single Conservative at his rallies is dumber than a bag of hammers, cheering him on for turning us into another state.

  • Robert J. Muir

    Harper IS Canada, he has single handedly destroyed everything I stand for as a Canadian, broke every law in the book, and he is still smiling on like a fool much like George W. Bush, and every single Conservative at his rallies is dumber than a bag of hammers, cheering him on for turning us into another state.