To the surprise of absolutely no one, Stephen Harper’s Tory government has given the go-ahead to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline plan.
Stephen Harper is pretending that the pipeline approval process was “arms length”: “The fact of the matter is … the government is acting on the advice of an independent scientific panel that thoroughly reviewed all matters.” But Steve is up to his elbows in bitumen, as usual.
The real fact of the matter is that more than 300 scientists not muzzled by the terms of their employment with the government signed an open letter in May denouncing the review process and the pipeline itself. They wrote: “We, the undersigned scholars, have concluded that the Joint Review Panel’s (JRP) assessment of the Northern Gateway Project … represents a flawed analysis of the risks and benefits to British Columbia’s environment and society. Consequently, the JRP report should not serve as the basis for concluding that the Northern Gateway Project is in the best interests of Canadians. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to reject this report.”
The scientists repeat what environmentalists and First Nations representatives warned about the review process, that the fix was in from the start. Throughout that process the corporation released false information in its propaganda and the government attacked opponents as dangerous extremists.
Harper used the RCMP and CSIS to spy on pipeline opponents, prompting the BC Civil Liberties Association to file complaints about “intimidating and anti-democratic” practices. The spies not only reported to Ottawa, but reportedly shared information with oil industry corporations.
Resistance: No means no
News of the approval sparked renewed calls for resistance. There was an immediate rally in Vancouver that drew thousands. In smaller cites and towns, like Kitimat, the project’s port terminal, opposition is strong. Residents of Kitimat voted to reject the pipeline–despite its promise of jobs–in a plebiscite held in April.
Less helpful is a petition calling for a province-wide vote on the project. Since the majority of the pipeline route crosses unceded First Nations land it is those Nations, not the settler majority, which should have veto power.
Opposition to the Northern Gateway is strong, and a coalition of First Nations–including the Yinka Dene Alliance, the BC Assembly of First Nations, the BC Union of Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit–are moving to take Enbridge and the government to court. Behind the legal challenge is the promise to stop the project by any means necessary.
“They can go ahead and try and put their project through here,” said Freda Husan, speaking for the Unist’ot’en clan of the Wet’suet’en First Nation. “They will be considered trespassers. And we'll enforce Wet’suet’en law against any trespassers. You bring any equipment on here, it's going to belong to us. You're going to be walking out.”