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The project, proposed by Enbridge Inc, would construct a 730-mile pipeline from the tar sands to a new port at Kitimat, British Columbia. Photograph: Veronique De Viguerie/Getty Images
Your letter caught my attention. I respect you and like you a lot as a colleague in the House. Unfortunately, I think your role as Minister of Natural Resources has been hijacked by the PMO spin machine. The PMO is, in turn, hijacked by the foreign oil lobby. You are, as Minister of Natural Resources, in a decision-making, judge-like role. You should not have signed such a hyperbolic rant.
I have reproduced a short section of your letter. The idea that First Nations, conservation groups, and individuals opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline are opposed to all forestry, mining, hydro-electric and gas is not supported by the facts. I am one of those opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline. I do not oppose all development; neither does the Green Party; neither do environmental NGOS; neither do First Nations.
I oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline for a number of reasons, beginning with the fact that the project requires over-turning the current moratorium on oil tanker traffic on the British Columbia coastline. The federal-provincial oil tanker moratorium has been in place for decades. As former Industry Canada deputy minister Harry Swain pointed out in today’s Globe and Mail, moving oil tankers through 300 km of perilous navigation in highly energetic tidal conditions is a bad choice. In December 2010, the government’s own Commissioner for the Environment, within the Office of the Auditor General, reported that Canada lacked the tools to respond to an oil spill. These are legitimate concerns.
Furthermore, running a pipeline through British Columbia’s northern wilderness, particularly globally significant areas such as the Great Bear Rainforest, is a bad idea. Nearly 1,200 kilometers of pipeline through wilderness and First Nations territory is not something that can be fast-tracked.
Most fundamentally, shipping unprocessed bitumen crude out of Canada has been attacked by the biggest of Canada’s energy labour unions, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, as a bad idea. The CEP estimates it means exporting 40,000 jobs out of Canada (figure based on jobs lost through the Keystone Pipeline). They prefer refining the crude here in Canada. (The CEP is also not a group to which your allegation that opponents of Gateway also oppose all forestry, mining, oil, gas, etc is anything but absurd.)