06/13/2012 08:29 EDT | Updated 08/13/2012 05:12 EDT

Enbridge Pipeline Opposed By Former Tory Minister


A former Conservative federal fisheries minister is speaking out against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, saying it poses a serious threat to the environment, fisheries habitats and future generations.

Tom Siddon, who now lives in B.C.'s Okanagan, is calling on the Harper government to reconsider plans to allow Alberta crude to be shipped to China through B.C.

"What's Canada doing? We're getting rid of our natural resources as quickly as we can at the lowest possible price," said Siddon.

Siddon said he grew up on the banks of the Red Deer River in Alberta, which is now threatened after half a million litres of light sour crude oil poured into the river and into the Gleniffer reservoir, which provides thousands of Albertans with drinking water.

"Our Pacific salmon stocks and the inland species that inhabit those watersheds — a big part of it being the Fraser basin and Skeena watersheds — are significantly at risk if we have the kind of event that unfolded on the Red Deer River last week."

Siddon said it's time for the B.C. government to speak out against the project.

"By this point in a major project, with the federal government pushing legislation in a hurry through Ottawa and some kind of a deal signed with the Chinese that nobody has disclosed to us, I think it's time the province did the homework required and took a position," he said.

B.C. New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix says Siddon's stand adds weight to the opposition to the Enbridge pipeline.

Dix said B.C. is taking on all the risks and isn't getting much of the economic benefit from the pipeline project.

The provincial Liberal government has said it will not decide its position until it's weighed the evidence presented to the Joint Review Panel that is assessing the project.

The proposed $5.5-billion pipeline would run from Bruderheim, Alta. to Kitimat B.C., moving about 525,000 barrels of oil per day to Kitimat for export.

Public hearings into the project have been marred by protests by First Nations and others groups. In April, hearings in Bella Bella, B.C., were put on hold amid safety concerns raised by the panel members from the federally-appointed review board.

The public hearing process is nearly at the midway point, and in September formal hearings will begin where expert witnesses will testify under oath to the review panel.

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