Do you remember when the federal government was dismissing opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline as coming from foreign radical environmental groups? Well, it turns out those foreign radicals are Canadians.
I just read in the Toronto Star that, as of this September, more than 1000 Canadians have spoken out at public hearings on whether to build the Northern Gateway oil pipeline through the British Columbia wilderness. The information-gathering sessions, which resumed during the first week of September, will go on for many more months, with thousands of others waiting to give evidence. Indeed, polls show that there is growing public opposition. Many Canadians have serious concerns, understanding that the pipeline touches on issues such as First Nations' land claims, revenue-sharing among provinces, climate change, protection of marine life, pipeline safety, water use, job creation and concerns about the rapid development of the oil sands.
The federal government has made it clear that they are strongly in favour of building this pipeline. Just a few months ago, it looked like the government was going to be able to dismiss pipeline opposition: When they transferred final decision-making power on the proposed oil pipeline from the independent regulators of the National Energy Board to the government, it seemed inevitable that the pipeline would move ahead.
But individuals and groups just keep speaking out. There is a strong coalition forming in opposition to the pipeline, including indigenous peoples, environmental groups, faith-based groups, B.C. municipalities, and many residents along the planned route for the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Now some political commentators are saying that, given the scope of the opposition, and the likelihood of years of court action by more than 100 indigenous groups, the pipeline is looking more doubtful.
Certainly, the struggle isn't over yet. But I can't help but be impressed with this powerful display of democracy. I hope all Canadians are paying attention. As it turns out, when we stick together, we can make a difference!
Sue Wilson csj