No one was surprised when the Harper government approved the 1,200-kilometre Northern Gateway pipeline, which would move diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat, B.C., along the west coast. There, the product would be loaded onto supertankers that will ply the pristine Douglas Channel and the coast before making its way to export markets in Asia. This government, like those in other petro states, is close to the oil industry and has acted as its partner and advocate rather than as a guardian of the public interest.
There are many reasons why the pipeline should not be built, and they overlap. One is the danger of a major oil spill from a supertanker. Another is that Enbridge, the major corporate player involved, has a history of pipeline fractures, which spew oil into the lands and waters through which pipelines pass.
Other potent arguments are that the pipeline would run through lands claimed by First Nations and that the oil tankers traveling along the coast would do so adjacent to lands that belong to or are claimed by various First Nations. They have not been consulted in any significant way, even at this late stage when the National Energy Board says — and the government agrees — that the pipeline should go ahead.
Enbridge has been tone deaf in its dealings with First Nations. In one case, workers acting on behalf of the company razed a stand of ancient cedars which had been marked by the Haisla First Nation near Kitimat long before B.C. had even become a British colony. The Haisla have since made it clear that Enbridge employees are not welcome on their land.Read More