Stephen Harper has chosen to approve Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline, despite the overwhelming opposition of the people of British Columbia, over 130 First Nations and the B.C. government itself.
Throwing his political weight behind this project is a major mistake, because this pipeline will not be built.
Even with a green light from the federal government, Enbridge faces many hurdles. Given the number and size of them the reality is Enbridge's tarsands pipeline won't see the light of day.
The first is B.C. Premier Christy Clark. Just yesterday the Premier said that no current proposal meets the 5-conditions the BC Premier laid out. Without a fulfillment of those 5-conditions Premier Clark has said it won’t be given BC’s approval.
The next hurdle is plans for a BC wide referendum. The use of the referendum already caused the death of the HST in BC and with 2 out of 3 British Columbians opposing Enbridge Northern Gateway it may mean the end of Enbridge’s pipeline plans as well.
Thirdly, are the court cases. Within minutes of the announcement, multiple First Nations announced that they would go to court to block the pipeline and Grand Chief Stewart Philip said they “are prepared to go to unprecedented lengths to conserve and protect our territories and waters from heavy oil.”
Most First Nations in B.C. have never signed treaties and thus have greater legal rights and standing to determine what type of development goes forward on their territory. Over 130 First Nations have signed the ‘Save the Fraser Declaration’ opposing tar sands development through their territories and the chances of a substantial legal victory stopping the pipeline is high.
Next is the fact that the Federal leaders of both the Liberal and NDP have stated they would reverse the decision if elected in 2015. Given the growing tarsands pipeline opposition in BC and the vulnerability of the 'Enbridge 21' the forcast doesn't look good for Harper's or Enbridge's chances.
The last hurdle, should it come to that, is the escalation of protests and the use of peaceful civil disobedience to stop the pipeline. Already over 20,000 people have pledged to join with First Nations to do whatever it takes to stop the pipeline and prevent the destruction it would bring with it.
In picking this fight, Prime Minister Harper will not only damage his own reputation in a doomed attempt to support a pipeline that has no chance of survival, but also puts Conservative seats at risk in next year’s federal election.
Today’s decision starts the fight, but it is a long way from over.
It is unfortunate that our Prime Minister chose the wrong side. It’s now up to us to make sure he knows it.