Oliver and the Northern Gateway hearings: arrogance trumps democratic process
During this first week of hearings regarding the Northern Gateway project in British Columbia, I won’t reiterate all of the passionate discourse and minutiae that have been shared regarding the oil pipeline that Enbridge wants to build.
The disdainful comments made by Joe Oliver, Canada’s federal minister of natural resources, in his open letter reflect a remarkable arrogance and disregard for the democratic process. They show who he is truly beholden to: the oil companies (those foreign influences!) rather than the public and the voters.
Oliver’s desire to speed up the hearings only shows the elitist presumption of Enbridge, Stephen Harper, and the Tories: in their minds, Northern Gateway is a go, it’s just a question of when. Why let the opinions of the people influence any decision? There’s been no effort made whatsoever to imply that majority views expressed against the project might cause Enbridge and our provincial and federal politicians to rethink it. That’s because such consideration is not part of their agenda.
Meanwhile, no one has mentioned the potential impact of an earthquake on this pipeline, if it was built. It’s easy to imagine how many toxic chemicals would be released to the air, land, and waterways, if large sections of the pipeline cracked or broke apart.
Now look at sea travel on the Mediterranean and the jarring images of that cruise ship recently sunk off the Tuscany coast. Imagine a supertanker in its place and oil seeping around it for hundreds of kilometres of land and water.
Since we can never eliminate human error (let alone control Mother Nature), we can never guarantee that a pipeline won’t burst or a supertanker won’t run aground. As long as those risks exist, we can’t afford the possibility of allowing the resulting oil spills to wipe out the livelihood of generations of First Nations communities, or of destroying our valuable ecosystems and marine life.
Besides, in this era of peak oil, to invest heavily in oil and no alternative energy sources is ridiculously short-sighted and foolhardy. We can’t afford to maintain an economy dependent on oil production and export that helps China but not Canadians as a whole. Let’s think about our future, one that works for the majority of Canadians, for the earth, the seas, and their creatures.
Watch Pacific Wild’s excellent 16-minute documentary Oil in Eden to find out more about the potential impact of the Northern Gateway project on British Columbia.