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Northern Gateway pipeline awaits its fate

Rally to stop the pipeline in Victoria, BC.
Nazish Aziz

January 4, 2013

Last year was a beautiful year of organizing against the Northern Gateway oil pipeline project. The proposed $6-billion pipeline will transport tar sands crude from northern Alberta to the port of Kitimat, B.C. Thousands have written or spoke to the Joint Review Panel for the project set up by the Harper cabinet. Every where the panel met they were greeted with protests.

In October thousands rallied in front of the B.C. legislature in Victoria. Spokesman for the group, Peter McHugh, made it clear that “We mean to deliver a message to Christy Clarke, and the federal government that British Columbians oppose these tarsands, tankers and pipelines.”

In December 2012, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson singed onto the Save the Fraser declaration and declared December 3 as “Save the Fraser Declaration Day” in Vancouver. This indigenous law declaration signed by the Tahltan Central Council, the Tahltan Band Council and the BC Metis Federation and more than 130 other first nations organizations works to prevent the building of the pipeline and tankers crossing the province.

A poll conducted in BC in December 2012 shows that opposition to the pipeline project has increased over the year, now 60 per cent are opposed, 31 per cent are in favour, and only 9 per cent don’t know.

Despite this opposition, Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver stated that he still believes the pipeline will be built. Oliver considered only those in favour of the pipeline as open-minded. But it seems fossil fuels have become the focal point for the federal government. In a report released by Ottawa-based Polaris Institute, co-author Daniel Cayley-Daous states, “No one doubts the hold the oil industry has on this current government, but it is important Canadians are aware that such a high rate of lobbying to federal ministers has strong policy implications.”

Enbridge has acknowledged that most jobs will be short-term construction work. Only about 35 to 40 long-term jobs would be created at the Kitimat marine terminal, with some additional jobs in pipeline maintenance.

As the federal government aims at profit while dismissing indigenous sovereignty and the long term effects of oil spills, damage to coastlines and climate change,
people must continue to take action and win over others. The key question for this pipeline will be: how far will this movement go in order to prevent this profit based project?

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