With the federal government decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline looming, this year's World Oceans Day takes on even greater meaning for B.C. Anyone who has lived on our coast knows how important our oceans and our beaches are to our lifestyle, our economy and our identity as British Columbians.
The Haisla First Nation live in one of the most beautiful spots on Earth, on the west coast near the aluminum town of Kitimat. The town's massive smelter has long been a sore spot among the Haisla, dropped into their traditional territory in the pro-development 1950 without consultation or substantial compensation. Now, the Haisla find themselves on the front lines of one of the most important Canadian environmental and development debates of the 21st century, but they are no longer the powerless victims of a half century ago. If Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline proceeds, it will terminate on Haisla territory.
The point Justin Trudeau, and largely the rest of Canada, has missed is the role British Columbia will play moving forward in Canada. If it's not obvious, it should be by now. With Vancouver MP Joyce Murray announcing her run for leader of the Liberal Party today, it's slowly setting the pace to which B.C. politicians will begin to take a more active role in shaping the country's policy.
Domestic provincial considerations have complicated the viability of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project. One major barrier to the development of the Northern Gateway pipeline is the parochial interests of B.C.'s premier, Christy Clark who has demanded a "fair share" of the benefits from the pipeline. Lifting the moratorium on offshore oil and gas activity on Canada's west coast has the potential to resolve inter-provincial in-fighting over pipelines by ensuring British Columbia is a larger beneficiary of Canada's energy renaissance.