The average Canadian doesn’t place the economy above other concerns like education, health care and environment according to a a public-opinion survey analysis performed by the Privy Council Office (PCO), a group of the Prime Minister’s top advisors, in January.
As the Canadian Press reports, the research suggests major federal government policies don’t line up with Canadian priorities.
The analysis followed public opinion research of 3,000 survey respondents and 12 focus groups, conducted by NRG Research Group, on behalf of the Finance Department. The PCO is not obligated to routinely make its research public.
The research showed Canadians have “little enthusiasm” for the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, “even among supporters,” the January 25 PCO report on the findings states. Since then the pipeline was federally approved.
A new lawsuit filed Monday challenges the federal Cabinet's decision to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. The suit, launched by the Federation of BC Naturalists, or BC Nature, asks the Federal Court of Appeal to allow an application that declares the pipeline’s June 17, 2014 approval invalid. Today is the last day parties may apply to the Federal Court to initiate a judicial review of the project's approval.
BC Nature filed a previous lawsuit in January 2014 against the Joint Review Panel’s (JRP) recommendation the federal government approve the pipeline. That suit, filed by the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre (ELC), is still ongoing and challenges the JRP’s justification of “serious harm” to caribou and grizzly bears as well as findings regarding the consequences of a potential major oil spill.
“In the lawsuit filed today, we argue that due to fundamental flaws in the JRP’s report, Cabinet was deprived of the legal authority to make a final decision on the pipeline,” Chris Tollefson, ELC Executive Director and lawyer for BC Nature, said.
Last week I signed the Let BC Vote pledge. You could say I’m late to the party. More than 200,000 British Columbians signed before me. I’ve been aware of the Dogwood Initiative-led campaign since it launched, and I’ve watched the numbers grow. But I wanted to reason it through before deciding with conviction that it is part of my path forward.
For the last few years I’ve worked in my community and beyond to help build the momentum we need to stop Enbridge Northern Gateway. I’m not trained as a leader or organizer. I came to this work before I felt ready, and I learned on my feet. I’ve made my share of gut decisions in the heat of battle, and learned to be grateful when I have the luxury of examining every angle of a campaign before I commit to it.
David Suzuki isn’t surprised the federal government approved the contentious Northern Gateway pipeline Tuesday, but he is surprised Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t have the “courage” to announce the decision to Canadians.
Suzuki described the approval as “totally expected,” yet expressed dismay at the Prime Minister’s absence.
“Harper indicated before the joint review panel even started its sessions he wanted that pipeline through,” Suzuki told DeSmog Canada. “What surprises me is he didn’t even have the courage to present his approval and defend it.”
“This is such a craven thing, for the Prime Minister of the country to push through that agenda and then not even defend it, not even having any ministers out there defending it. I find that astounding.”
Northern Gateway is opposed by a majority of British Columbians, including most of the province’s First Nations.
Critics are saying the Harper government is insulating itself from political backlash associated with the pipeline's approval. Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford even claimed it inaccurate to suggest the federal government approved the pipeline.
Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said in a statement: “In December 2013, the Joint Review Panel found that construction and operation of the Northern Gateway Pipelines project is in the public interest, subject to 209 conditions being met by the proponent. After carefully reviewing the report, the Government accepts the independent Panel’s recommendation to impose 209 conditions on Northern Gateway Pipelines’ proposal.”
“Today constitutes another step in the process,” Rickford said, adding Enbridge committed to working with “aboriginal groups and local communities along the route.”
Energy giant Kinder Morgan was recently called insensitive for pointing out that “Pipeline spills can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies, both in the short- and long-term.” The company wants to triple its shipping capacity from the Alberta tar sands to Burnaby, in part by twinning its current pipeline. Its National Energy Board submission states, “Spill response and cleanup creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and cleanup service providers.”
It may seem insensitive, but it’s true. And that’s the problem. Destroying the environment is bad for the planet and all the life it supports, including us. But it’s often good for business. The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico added billions to the U.S. gross domestic product! Even if a spill never occurred (a big “if”, considering the records of Kinder Morgan and other pipeline companies), increasing capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day would go hand-in-hand with rapid tar sands expansion and more wasteful, destructive burning of fossil fuels — as would approval of Enbridge Northern Gateway and other pipeline projects, as well as increased oil shipments by rail.
This is a guest post by award-winning environmental campaigner and author Tzeporah Berman. It was originally published in The Globe and Mail and is republished here with permission.
I have family who work in the oilsands. They know that I have been a vocal critic of current oilsands operations and plans for expansion, yet they didn’t hesitate to welcome me last week into their homes and to invite me to a family gathering in Canmore. We had a wonderful time. We shared some memories, laughed a lot and even tackled some hard stuff. The conversations were rich and surprisingly easy. Perhaps in part because although we have different opinions there already was a basis of trust and shared experiences.
The weekend sits in stark contrast for me to the ugly polarizing and simplistic debate about oilsands and pipelines our country is embroiled in. It was also an important reminder for me of a simple lesson I learned during the war in the woods in the ’90’s – that there are good people everywhere and sometimes the people you need the most to figure out intransigent problems are the folks on the so-called other side of the fence. I left thinking about how important it is for us to overcome the ‘taking sides’ attitude over oilsands, pipelines and climate change that has taken root in our country and find ways to create real conversations about solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our age.
This week the federal government was legally obligated to establish protected habitat for threatened North Pacific humpback whales. Instead the Harper government suddenly moved to take the humpback off the “threatened species” list. That would eliminate the legal requirement under Canada’s Species At Risk Act for protecting habitat along the British Columbia coast.
The government based the downgrade on a recommendation made by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), the independent scientific body that designates which wildlife species are in trouble, in 2011.
Critics have noted the decision eliminates a major obstacle to both the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. After the conditional approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline by the National Energy Board's joint review panel, the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre launched a legal complaint on behalf of B.C. Nature requesting the government's recovery strategy for humpback whales be taken into consideration.
A federal recovery strategy for humpback whales on the B.C. coast released in October cited potential increased oil tanker traffic as a danger to dwindling populations. The recovery strategy, released after a five-year delay, also noted the danger toxic spills posed to critical habitat.
If built, the two pipeline projects would increase oil tanker traffic from eight to 28 per month, increasing the risks of collisions with whales, potential spills in vital habitat and excessive noise.
A group of engineers has released papers warning us not to trust the numbers provided by Enbridge when it comes to tanker traffic associated with the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.
Concerned Professional Engineers (CPE) is a group of four engineers living in British Columbia with specializations in areas such as probabilistic methods in engineering, naval architecture, small and large materials handling, and cold climate design. Between them they claim more than 100 years experience in design related to industrial projects.
The group’s spokesperson Brian Gunn first became involved in conservation issues when he retired from his long career in civil engineering and bought a dude ranch in the wild interior of BC. Delving into the world of wilderness tourism, he became aware of the tense relationship between developers seeking to take advantage of the region's abundant natural resources and those residents who wished to preserve it.
A new court ruling means that the dozens of animal species that are at risk of extinction across Canada may finally receive the support they need.
A federal court judge found that the Canadian government has been breaking the law in not following through on its obligations under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The act, established in 2003, obliges the government to develop and implement recovery strategies for animal species in Canada at risk of extinction.
In her ruling, federal court Justice Anne L. Mactavish found that “there is clearly an enormous systemic problem within the relevant Ministries, given the respondents' acknowledgement that there remain some 167 species at risk for which recovery strategies have not yet been developed.”