photo (cc) Dru Oja Jay, The Dominion
Last week, the federal government launched a massive public relations offensive to silence Canadians opposed to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. They are trying to manufacture a myth that “foreign special interests” and “radical groups” are “hijacking” the National Energy Board hearings.[1,2]
The federal government’s goal is to ram the pipeline through the public review process despite the fact that it is strongly opposed by Canadians who are concerned the pipeline will kill jobs, destabilize our climate and threaten our coast and salmon rivers. Just yesterday Prime Minister Harper doubled-down on the rhetoric, claiming “foreigners” were “hijacking” the process because they want to make Canada "one giant national park."
The reality is that there is broad opposition to a pipeline that would pump tar sands crude from Alberta to British Columbia’s rugged coastal waters where it would be loaded onto supertankers destined for overseas markets. Between 75 and 80% of British Columbians, including 2/3rds of BC’s federal Conservatives, oppose supertanker traffic along BC’s coast because of the risk of oil spills. More than 70 First Nations have joined together to protect the economic and ecological integrity of their land and waters by banning the pipeline and supertankers from crossing their territory. Their voices must be heard.
This is a critical moment, the government smear campaign is designed to distract the many Canadians who are learning about this issue for the first time. We need a massive public outcry to counter the smear campaign by talking about the real issues.
The stakes are high, and Canada needs a real debate about the future of our energy, economy and environment. Here’s the real question: is it in Canada’s best interests to build this pipeline and expand the tar sands?
Building the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline will run counter to Canada’s national interest in four major ways:
The pipeline would kill jobs all across Canada. Regionally, the small number of jobs building and maintaining the pipeline are not worth the risk that oil spills pose to thousands of jobs in fisheries and tourism. Just ask the residents of the Gulf Coast.
Nationally, the pipeline would close factories in Ontario and Quebec. How? For the last ten years, the expansion of tar sands exports has driven up the Canadian dollar, making Canada’s manufacturing exports more expensive and less competitive. This pattern is called the “Dutch Disease,” and in Canada it has contributed to the loss of 627,000 manufacturing jobs in the last nine years. This pipeline will make the situation much worse.
The pipeline would destabilize our climate. We have to choose between expanding the tar sands and preventing runaway global warming.
The pipeline would threaten our coast and salmon rivers. The pipeline would bring 200+ super-tankers a year to some of the most difficult waters in the world, the area that sank the Queen of the North, a large ferry. This creates an unacceptable threat of a major oil spill, and that’s not the only risk. The pipeline will leak. The same day the review panel hearings opened, Enbridge reported a leak in another one of their pipelines.
Over 70 First Nations have banned the pipeline and supertankers from their territory. They have never given up their right to refuse projects, and they are rejecting this project despite significant cash incentives because oil spills are such a major threat to their land and water.
We have a choice to make, and the stake are high. In the debate about the Enbridge pipeline, we can see two competing visions for Canada.
In one, the federal government and oil industry interests work together to exploit our natural resources as quickly as possible, maximizing short-term profits while trashing Canada’s environment, ruining our reputation, killing jobs, eroding our democracy and ensuring catastrophic climate change.
In the other, Canadians work together through democratic processes and an independent regulatory framework to use our oil resources to build a forward-looking renewable energy economy that ensures sustainable prosperity for generations to come while making Canada a leader in the global struggle for climate security.
Right now, there are countless Canadians who are standing up for that positive vision and being smeared by their own government. Let’s stand up with them, and put the focus back on the real issue.