Sometime before Tuesday night, after years of debate, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to announce his decision on the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Personally, I thought Friday the 13th would have been a poetic day for Harper's Enbridge announcement, but their self imposed deadline is Tuesday June 17.
After a high-level delegation to Wall Street last week, where Harper's minister and various oil lobbyists reassured Goldman Sachs that a Western tar sands pipeline would soon be built, most signs points to Harper greenlighting Enbridge. After all, his government has spent the past years doing everything humanly possible to make the way easier for Enbridge.
While Harper's expected approval will remove another obstacle for Enbridge, many more remain. Harper can do this the easy way or the hard way, but this pipeline will never be built. Until there are tankers filling up with tar sands oil off the north coast of B.C., this is far from over. This project will still be very much a live issue in the next federal election.
Why won't it be built? First Nations will undoubtedly take the project to court and if need be, tens of thousands of British Columbians have pledged to stand with them and take direct action to stop this pipeline. Hopefully it won't have to come to that. B.C. Premier Christy Clark could still stand strong and help stop the Enbridge pipeline. A campaign has been organized asking her to follow through on B.C.'s rejection of the pipeline during the National Energy Board's Joint review panel process.
Ultimately, if after everything, Enbridge still tries to ram their pipeline through B.C., it may make Clayoquot Sound look like a walk in the park.
Assuming he doesn't surprise us by rejecting Enbridge outright, Harper will end up regretting that he didn't oppose this pipeline, as it will likely cost him some critical seats in a close election. A recent poll by Bloomberg shows 47 per cent of respondents said they'd be less likely to vote for Harper's Conservatives if they approve the project. With 21 seats in B.C., this decision could be why he loses the election overall. Organizing is already underway in strategic locations to ensure good candidates are elected that say "no" to tar sands pipelines and say "yes" to better local alternatives.
This Enbridge project can and must be stopped -- in the courtrooms, in the B.C legislature, on the land and at the ballot box. We are working with other civil society groups and concerned citizens who are organizing to ensure we move beyond bad ideas like the Enbridge pipeline and bad governments like the current scandal-ridden bunch.
Next year, federal election results in B.C. could play a determining role in the outcome of the election. Community organizing, training and ongoing expansion of these efforts is critical. We have already launched a successful network based organizing effort in strategic locations that needs your support to grow.
And then there's Christy Clark. The premier of B.C. has repeatedly reaffirmed her government's opposition to Northern Gateway and we must hold her feet to the fire on this. That means unrelenting pressure to make sure she stands strong.
Given that tens of thousands of people have said that they'll do whatever it takes to stop this project, we want to make sure if it comes to that, people are safe and organized. To that end we'll also be facilitating non-violent direct action trainings in the weeks to come. The more support we receive, the more trainings we can do.
We will of course continue to work closely with First Nations allies and do everything we can to support them in their fight to protect their rights and stop the pipeline.
Northern Gateway is more than a pipeline. The Enbridge fight is emblematic of all we cherish as Canadians --our democracy, our respect for First Nations' rights, our magnificent West Coast and vast forests, orcas, wild salmon and spirit bears.
The Harper government seems to want to risk the destruction of all of this. Harper may think he can ram this pipeline through over the B.C. public's objections and in opposition to the rights of First Nations. But if he goes ahead and approves Enbridge, he'll be in a for a big surprise. We still hold many tools here in B.C. to stop this pipeline, and we'll use every tool we need.
Harper's announcement on this pipeline is not the decisive moment, but it is a galvanizing one. If things go as expected, the gauntlet's being thrown down. Now it's up to us to respond.
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