B.C. rejects the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project

Posted Jun 1, 2013 by Grace C. Visconti
The B.C. Liberal government rejected the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project shortly after they were elected to office. The project was fraught with conflict, and analysis of evidence for this pipeline approval was thorough and relentless.
Calgary  AB  headquarters of Enbridge Inc.
Calgary, AB, headquarters of Enbridge Inc.
Today, the B.C. Liberal government rejected the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project shortly after they were elected to office. However, Enbridge plans to meet with Premier Christy Clark to discuss legitimate concerns and inadequacies illustrated in the final written submission to the Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel. Oral final arguments will be presented to the Joint Review Panel in Terrace B.C. on June 17, 2013.
Analysis of the evidence was thorough and relentless. The panel was interrogated about the project, its route, spill response capacity and the financial readiness to handle a major spill in B.C. coastal waters or in the pristine rugged backcountry of British Columbia. Also, monitoring was a big issue especially in the rugged backcountry where response times would be problematic. But primarily, the question of how they would handle a major spill was a key issue.
The five conditions set out by Premier Christy Clark can be viewed in this article on Digital Journal Alberta and B.C. fight over Northern Gateway pipeline intensifies. The five conditions were not adequately met which is why the Northern Gateway pipeline project has been rejected for now.
However, next month the review panel will hear final arguments followed by a presentation to the federal government by the end of 2013. The federal government will have the final say then. With the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) purchase of Nexen approved by the Harper government, and the impending ratification of the contentious Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), rejection of the Northern Gateway pipeline project will cause more delays. Get the facts about FIPA HERE.
Without the implementation of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, Canadian oil will not reach Asian markets and so the purpose of FIPA would lack traction and the purchase of Nexen, a vehicle for getting oil to Asian markets, will be seriously compromised.
Gus Van Harten, International investment lawyer, trade agreement expert and Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, gives a point-by-point rebuttal of Prime Minister Harper’s spin on FIPA in this thorough analysis published by The Tyee: TAKING APART TORIES’ PARTY LINE ON CHINA-CANADA TREATY.
Additionally, as stated in Delayed China trade deal reflects Tory dissent, NDP says, Tory backbenchers are troubled and divided by the current Canada-China agreement. The majority of MPs in the opposition parties are upset as well because there was no in-depth consultation in parliament about this treaty.
In October 2012, Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, strongly urged that Canadians demand parliamentary hearings regarding the Canada-China treaty between the Government of Canada and the Government of the People’s Republic of China. If passed, it means that corporate rights will allow companies to sue governments in favor of corporate profits regardless of dire consequences to the environment of Canada and its people. Barlow explains that FIPA is a “bilateral investment treaty” where if “undermined by public policies, including public health or environmental measures or by delays to energy and resource projects,” the Canadian federal government cannot sue a company under the treaty if that company has violated health and safety rights. The Canada-China pact would be in place for 31 years with no future political party able to change it. Maude Barlow’s interview on FIPA and the necessity for debate, clarification, and contributions can be read here: Op-ED: Canada-China corporate rights pact needs debate says Maude Barlow.
Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Treaty 8, also expressed his concern in the interview Water is at risk with Bill C-45 and FIPA (Part 2). Dissent from First Nations prompted the grassroots movement Idle No More which will reemerge stronger than ever with solidarity if Prime Minister Harper ratifies FIPA. After reviewing Bill C45, law student and citizen of the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 8 Tanya Kappo, was stunned at how the rights of First Nations and Canadians were stripped down. She was responsible for telling her people what the consequences of Bill C-45 would be to the environment, First Nations Treaty rights and their way of life. The interview Grassroots movement Idle No More fueled by Bill C45 – Tanya Kappo reveals the concerns.
Determined to stop the ratification of FIPA, the B.C. Hupacasath First Nation is currently challenging this agreement in court. The band maintains that FIPA will impose on preexisting aboriginal rights to resources. The government has one month to compile evidence and file its own affidavits and once this is done, the court will set a date when the case can be heard. The goal of the Hupacasath First Nation is to stall a formal decision by the federal government. The article in the Vancouver Observer Hupacasath First Nation files affidavits in case against China-Canada FIPA: The SinoFile, describes how this brave act is not only for First Nations but for all Canadians. The citizen advocacy organization is spearheading the fundraising drive to solicit contributions from Canadians and First Nations across Canada for the Hupacasath First Nation’s legal fees.
The Enbridge Northern Gateway project was fraught with conflict from the beginning. After an exhaustive look at the pros and cons of this project, and diligent participation from a large diverse group of Canadians and First Nations, this rejection will pose a challenge to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Northern Gateway pipeline project and FIPA have not been an easy sell.
The rejection of the pipeline and thorough investigation of issues especially environmental safety concerns, First Nations Treaty rights, along with the growing dissent from a high percentage of Canadians, may force the Harper government to renegotiate FIPA but this time with proper debate suggested by Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. The other course of action would be for Harper to ratify FIPA and veto Premier Christy Clark’s rejection of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project while disregarding the dissent of people who gave him a majority government. But this option would risk political suicide and a nationwide revolt.
The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project rejection was a message from the people who will not be bullied. The purpose of gutting environmental laws and compromising the rights of Canadians and First Nations by ramming omnibus Bills C38 and C45 through the legislature, has hit an impasse. The federal government bending to the power of corporations has been challenged by the astute conscience and feisty determination of Canadians and First Nations who fought and currently continue to stand up for environmental protection, health, safety, and sovereignty.