Between 1999 and 2008 Enbridge pipelines spilled oil 610 times. That's more than one spill a week for nine years. Record numbers of people have registered as intervenors in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Joint Review Panel process to express their quite legitimate concerns about pipelines that would cross over 1,000 rivers and streams in B.C., which include three major salmon watersheds.
Enbridge CEO, Patrick Daniel himself has said: “Can we promise there will never be an accident? No. Nobody can.”
And as if this were not enough, Enbridge proposes to build the Northern Gateway Pipelines on unceeded Indigenous territory to which the company has been denied access. Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner, Mike Hudema observes that “this government seems to be laying the groundwork for bypassing Canadian law on First Nations rights and ramming through environmental approvals.”
What I find most disappointing in all of this is that instead of stopping to acknowledge that with the tar sands, Canada has dug itself into a hole, the Harper government decides to dig deeper. Inventing scapegoats and bogeymen to draw attention away from the issues does not make the disaster that is the tar sands disappear. Environmentalists are not the problem, Joe Oliver. The proposed Northern Gateway Pipelines are.
“This government doesn’t want to have a public discussion on the industry’s disastrous safety record, or the toxic effects that spills from a 1,170-kilometre tar sands pipeline would have on Indigenous rights, the Rocky Mountains, the B.C. coast, or the more than 1,000 rivers and streams this pipeline would cross,” says Mike Hudema.
Concerned citizens are given the distinct impression that their concerns are null and void by their own government. Meanwhile, “the Harper government labels people as 'foreign extremists,'” says Mike Hudema. Canada is a democracy. It is a place where resistance to projects that disregard the environment, Indigenous rights and the growing climate crisis can be stopped because they are wrong. It is a place where we can stop the tar sands and demonstrate global leadership by investing in the clean and just energy future we all deserve.
“The Harper government’s response to record numbers of people registered to raise their concerns in a public hearing is a sad Republican-style attack on those who disagree with it. Our government should support and encourage all voices to be heard. This is supposed to be a democracy of the people not oil companies,” said Mike Hudema said in response to your open letter.
It is time to aim higher. The real urgent matter of national interest seems to be the Harper government's lack of ambition. For the children and grandchildren who would inherit environmental decay, the humiliation of living in a country that breaks it's own laws with respect to First Nations rights, and a growing climate crisis, it is time to aim higher. Much higher, dear Minister.