This week more than 3,000 people gathered on the lawns of the BC Legislature to protest both the Enbridge and the Kinder Morgan pipelines.
There was also a strong anti-oil sands flavour to the crowd, a crowd made up of First Nations, environmental and labour organizations, and concerned citizens, young and old. Protestors are also gathering at MLA offices across the province this week.
A number of NDP MLAs were present at the protest. No Liberal MLAs showed up, despite the public beating the Liberal government is now giving Enbridge, Alberta, and the federal government over the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
Pipeline politics are all the rage these days. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has made more than a cameo appearance in the U.S. presidential election, and the Northern Gateway pipeline has become a flashpoint for both the BC NDP and the BC Liberals. What’s missing in all of the political posturing around pipelines on both sides of the border is any political leadership toward a national energy policy or a framework to address energy security. We need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels so that pipelines, with all of their environmental and health and safety risks, would eventually be rendered redundant. In my estimation, Enbridge should never have been allowed to enter the National Energy Board process.
The federal and the BC governments should have told Enbridge that the legal framework wasn’t there to support such a project because the Crown hasn’t fulfilled its obligation to address First Nations’ rights and title issues. They should have also been informed that there was no social license for their pipeline proposal, or for tankers in the Douglas Channel. This kind of leadership would have saved the company, and British Columbians, from the acrimony, protests, and crass politics that now surround this doomed project.
Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.