The fight over the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline heats up
The Globe and Mail is reporting two stories today related to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. The first article discusses the building opposition to the pipeline among B.C. Aboriginal groups such as the Yinka Dene Alliance. Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation was in Ottawa this week to represent the Alliance in building support for their anti-pipeline stance.
The federal government is constitutionally obligated to consult and, if possible, accommodate First Nations in the planning phases of projects such as Gateway. However, the government insists that First Nations do not have a veto and cannot stop the project from proceeding if they deem it to be in the “national interest”. Aboriginal groups feel otherwise and have vowed never to allow Enbridge in their lands.
With its provocations, the Conservative government appears to be spoiling for a fight and it seems this is precisely what they’re going to get. This battle is sure to be headed for the courts and to the front lines as more and more Canadians begin to stand up in opposition to Gateway. As professor Dwight Newman of the University of Saskatchewan says in the article “You’re going to see blockades and other militant action, and you’ll definitely see lawyers in massive mobilization.” What are you willing to do to help stop this project?
In another related story, the federal government is planning to end the regulation of fish habitats in Canada in an apparent effort to speed up the approval of projects such as Northern Gateway. A former federal scientist has obtained internal government documents showing the Conservatives intend to remove requirements in the Canada Fisheries Act to protect fish habitats and to offload the responsibility of environmental assessments to the provinces. If approved, the Northern Gateway pipeline would cross 600 rivers and streams on its way from the tar sands of Alberta to the B.C. coast.