Today is the third anniversary of the Save the Fraser Declaration which has been signed by a coalition of Aboriginal groups in BC. Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson, even declared today, December 13, 2012, Save the Fraser Declaration Day in Vancouver. An excerpt from the Declaration lays out exactly what they plan to do to stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline:
We will not allow the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, or similar Tar Sands projects, to cross our lands, territories and watersheds, or the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon.
It is so clear and succinct.
There are so many reasons to oppose this pipeline it is hard to know where to begin. The process underway is inherently racist and does not provide any meaningful consultation with First Nations. Today on BC Almanac, a caller related an anecdote about a First Nations Elder testifying at one of the hearings. Apparently he was continually interrupted to put his answers in the appropriate, legalistic language being used at the hearings. A request to have someone help him with this was denied. If the process itself is a barrier to participation how can there be any meaningful dialogue?
Another major issue with this pipeline is that we are shipping unprocessed bitumen out of the country without processing it. This means jobs that could be created here are being shipped out of the country along with the bitumen. This has been a perennial problem in our ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ approach to research development/exploitation. We always seem to sell out our resources to the highest bidder.
Opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline will be huge in BC. Not only will the government have to manage Aboriginal opposition, the environmental lobby will also be out in full force to stop it. The pipeline is not a wedge issue though as most British Columbians are well aware of the project and many oppose it. In fact, I don’t think I have met one person who supports it. Given the dictatorial nature of our Federal Government, I can also imagine that they will try to ram the pipeline through BC regardless of our opposition. This will not go over well in this province. We have a long and storied tradition of effective opposition that has stopped other projects. Given the excerpt from the declaration above, I can imagine an Oka like standoff in Northern BC. And I will support it. I would even be prepared to go and stand shoulder to shoulder with First Nations.