Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters at a photo op in Edmonton on Friday, January 6, 2012, that he is concerned about the possibility that the Joint Review hearings on Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would be “hijacked” by “foreign money, to really overload the public consultation of regulatory hearings for the purpose of slowing down the process.”
Harper said what he called the slow process of the hearings “was not good” for the Canadian economy, he said. “We have to have processes in Canada that come to a decision in a reasonable amount of time, and processes that cannot be hijacked,” Harper said. “The government of Canada will be taking a close look at how we can ensure our regulatory processes are effective and deliver decisions in a reasonable amount of time.”
Harper added that his government would be watching the Joint Review hearings closely and added his government may review the public consultation procedure to make sure they are not overloaded solely for the purpose of slowing down the process.
Harper’s comments did not identify the “foreign money,” but he was clearly referring to criticism from blogger Vivian Krause, the pro-bitumen sands group Ethical Oil and right wing columnists who are crusading against Canadian environmental groups for accepting money from U.S. sources. Harper, apparently, made no mention of foreign investment in the bitumen sands and the pipeline projects.