Between 1999 and 2010, Enbridge has had over 800 oil spills. Enbridge has spent almost $5 million on its greenwash campaigns trying to convince us they are following an "unwritten code of conduct" and have learned about "integrity and respect." Regardless, the movement against the Enbridge pipeline as well as the Kinder Morgan Pipeline is growing.
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.
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 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.
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."
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.
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.