This decision to reject over $1-billion, which was offered to gain consent for the proposed Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal on Lelu Island in the Great Bear Sea, sends a clear message of opposition to a project that threatens this ecologically and culturally rich region and its salmon-based economy.
As Canadians, we are incredibly lucky to live in a country with so much natural wealth, but we're taking that for granted. We're placing huge demands on the planets' resources, ranked 11th per capita in the world. If everybody in the world lived like Canadians, we would require 3.7 planets to meet our needs -- clearly, this is not sustainable.
We have chosen to focus our efforts on one of the most critical -- and most debated -- aspects of offshore drilling: the ability to stop a ruptured well from gushing crude oil into the Arctic Ocean in a timely fashion. For us, this is the most risky, most troubling issue that could arise, as illustrated in WWF's recent Beaufort Sea oil spill modelling research.
In Canada, we have every reason to take an international leadership position on this issue. There are deep cultural connections between whales and our coastal communities -- and economic ones too. Whale watching has grown exponentially in recent decades, part of a global $2.1 billion (U.S.) industry.
Despite the best efforts of citizens and watershed groups actively caring for their local waters across the country, we have no consistent way to measure water health. That leaves us in the dark, unprepared to do what's necessary to care for our waters. It leaves us without the information we need to understand the impacts and trade-offs of development decisions, restoration projects and legal reforms.
The Great Bear Region in B.C. is a Canadian treasure we should all embrace -- home to one of the planet's last intact coastal temperate rainforests, some of the world's most productive cold water seas, and some of its most important remaining free-flowing salmon rivers. But it is in danger from the Northern Gateway Project, and the outcome will be deadly.
We don't have to risk the destruction of one of the world's most spectacular environments to get full value from our oil sands resource. Of course, we have to put refineries in environments that can best handle them and not in areas that can't. The recent proposal to build a refinery in Kitimat is an example of building one in the wrong place. That's why I'm saying no to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and yes to a more sustainable future for the Great Bear region.
If there is a heaven -- and if pay-per-view TV is free up there (it must be, right?) -- my grandfather will be watching Wrestlemania, sitting on the edge of a cloud-bed, hands balled into fists, rising and falling as each blow leads either Cena or Rock closer to victory. And when it's all over, he'll chuckle to himself, just as he used to do when we watched together.