I feel strongly that as non-indigenous people living here in what we now call North America that we all have a lot to learn from those that were here long before we were. Working together, we need to find ways to heal from the history of colonialism and find new ways to work together to make healthy alternatives to dangerous tar sands oil, a reality. There are very real energy, housing and transportation solutions already readily available.
I am from Germany and moved to British Columbia with my wife and daughter in 2006. Our original plan was to stay for two years but we fell in love with the spectacular natural beauty of this province. No wild places like the B.C. coast remain in Germany. The idea of losing the wholeness of this landscape, First Nations cultures, the salmon, bears and whales to a catastrophic tanker or pipeline accident is heartbreaking.
The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline carrying raw bitumen to the B.C. coast is a bad idea, but it's ultimately the wrong fight. Let's assume the momentum of bringing Enbridge to its knees leads to a mass protest across Canada and all the proposed pipelines are stopped. Oil companies still have other options.
It's not Ottawa or Ontario that stands in the way of Alberta's success, nor will the rants of Thomas Mulcair or Justin Trudeau have any noticeable impact on the well-being of Albertans. An independent Alberta would face the same problems as now, and even worse, because British Columbia next door would be even less inclined to open its territory to a pipeline from the "Republic of Alberta".
Extract: The Pipeline Wars is an explosive, shocking warning that if the Northern Gateway pipeline goes ahead, it's checkmate for climate change as Earth's icecaps melt, oceans rise, and ultimately people and animals die as billions of tons of greenhouse gases are pumped into the sky.
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 same U.S. foundations that fund conservation in Canada also fund American groups working towards energy security, including a foundation called Securing America's Future Energy. The name says it all. American foundations aim to reduce fossil fuel dependence to stop global warming and strengthen U.S. national, energy and economic security. That's clear. What's unclear is whether they fund conservation initiatives in Canada, in part, to foster U.S. energy security.
Kinder Morgan would like us to believe that their Trans Mountain pipeline project in British Columbia is a better proposal than the one Enbridge has put forward, and that they're a more responsible company. Of course, as a climate activist I don't see any oil company proposing to expand oil consumption as playing a positive role in today's day and age. But given all of Enbridge's bungling as of late, some folks may be swayed by this argument.
"Art for an Oil Free Coast" will open for just a few days on Granville Island featuring a film, book and art exhibit featuring dozens of British Columbia's most talented and acclaimed visual artists. The exhibit -- designed to stimulate discussion about the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in Kitimat, B.C. -- will then travel to Victoria, Saltspring Island and beyond.
A group of Canadian businessmen has obtained the blessing of Alaskan tribes and Canadian First Nations to build a railroad through their lands that could carry up to five million barrels per day from the oil sands to the super tanker port in Valdez, Alaska. This is truly a nation-building project that must be seriously evaluated by all governments and the oil industry.
As Canadians, we are well aware that we are sleeping next to an elephant, and that the choices made by the American president have broad implications not only for Canada but for rest of the world. Much to the chagrin of many conscientious Canadians, the implications of a changing climate were off the radar in the American election before Hurricane Sandy swept in. The topic was not raised even once during the 2012 U.S. presidential debates. You would think it would be a no brainer to talk about this issue, given that the United Nations has called climate change "the single biggest threat facing humanity today."
The courage and resilience of the First Nations people in general, and specifically through their ongoing resistance to and suffering from mineral extraction such as the tar sands mining in Alberta, further affirms that we have a great deal to learn from the aboriginal peoples of this region and elsewhere.
Conflict between B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford over the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to the West Coast is not in the long-range interests of either province and needs to be resolved. In July, Ms. Clark laid down five conditions for considering support of the project, including a provision that B.C. must receive a "fair share" of the fiscal and economic benefits. Ms. Redford's response was immediate and negative and seemed to assume that B.C. was seeking a share of Alberta's oil royalties, even though this was not the case. Since the Alberta Premier has been seeking to take the lead in developing a "national energy strategy," it's in her interests to take the initiative in negotiating a resolution to this dispute with British Columbia.
Our government is ramming through another omnibus budget bill, and is set to sign a deal with China, both of which seem aimed at facilitating the pipeline and other resource-extraction projects. Why would anyone want to sell out our interests, democratic processes and future like this? And why would we put up with it?
As I write this thousands of people are gathered in Victoria, B.C. risking arrest to send a clear message that Canada's west coast is united in opposition to the expansion of tar sands pipelines and tanker traffic. There is no one size-fits-all solution to environmental issues, but that's exactly what PowerShift is all about.
If a mega corporation wanted to build a ski resort in your most treasured forest, you'd raise your voice. If a little girl in your community was standing up to big oil because she wanted to save sea otters, you'd raise your voice. If a thoughtful group of First Nations said to you "how can we understand the total impact of all these development projects unless we are working together?", you'd raise your voice too. Well, this is your chance. B.C. is facing unprecedented environmental challenges.