The September issue of National Geographic includes a large map of British Columbia it calls “Claiming British Columbia.”
The map has three themes: First Nations’ traditional territory, the routes of proposed pipeline projects, both LNG and diluted bitumen, and it features a sub map that looks at what the map calls the “Troubled Salmon” fishery.
The cartographers at National Geographic are being very careful, avoiding such troubling issues as competing land claims among First Nations, unresolved land claims with the federal and provincial governments and treaty status.
So by and large the map groups First Nations by language group unless there are definite treaty or reserve boundaries. Large reserves under the Indian Act are on the map, but given the post stamp size of many reserves in British Columbia, those reserves are too small to be seen on the map. Towns and cities are identified as “First Nations” communities which often overlap with settler communities. Again the map misses many smaller communities, so Kitimat is on the map, while Kitamaat Village is not.
The map identifies Haisla traditional territory as “Xenaksilakala/Xa”islakala” and also includes the Kitlope Heritage Conservancy Protected area.
The article in the September issue is called The Pacific Coast, but unfortunately there is not much of a tie-in with the map, since it concentrates on California and Alaska with only a passing mention of British Columbia.
On the obverse side of the map is the poster that is promoted on the magazine cover, a beautiful painting of “The Changing Pacific Coast” which covers kelp and every creature from phytoplankton and zooplankton all the way to humpback whales and sea gulls (but for some reason no bald eagles). It is likely that poster will be on display in classrooms up and down the coast before school opens next week.
The B.C. government acted improperly and “breached the honour of the crown” when it signed away a provincial review and gave the federal Joint Review Panel for responsibility for assessing the environmental impact of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, Madam Justice Marvyn Koenigsberg of the Supreme Court of B.C. ruled Wednesday.
In a largely technical decision, Justice Koenigsberg ruled that British Columbia must come to its own decision on Northern Gateway. That’s because what is called the “equivalency agreement” that handed the decision over to the federal agency was not “was reasonable or correct for the Province to exercise its discretion.”
She ruled the equivalency agreement “is invalid” and said the project cannot begin until a provincial environmental assessment certificate has been issued.
“The province is required to consult with the Gitga’at about the potential impacts of the project on areas of provincial jurisdiction and about how those impacts may affect the Gitga’at’s aboriginal rights, and how those impacts are to be addressed in a manner consistent with the honour of the Crown and reconciliation,” Koenigsberg ruled.
That may be the final nail in the Northern Gateway’s coffin. The province opposed the project at the JRP because the Northern Gateway had not met the five conditions for heavy oil transport that was set down by the government.
The court ruling comes shortly after British Columbia told the National Energy Board that it also opposed the $6.8-billion Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline because, at this point, that project cannot meet BC’s five conditions.
B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said the province is reviewing the Supreme Court decision.
There are 19 more court challenges to the Northern Gateway and to the Joint Review process, most before the Federal Court of Canada.
The Gitga’at First Nation and Coastal First Nations which brought the suit in January 2015 say that the ruling means Enbridge pipeline must now face provincial environmental assessment decision, which includes consultation with First Nations across the province.
Northern Gateway says the federal decision stands, and its still working to meet the 209 conditions set out by the NEB, along with the B.C. government’s conditions.
“Northern Gateway and the project proponents, including Aboriginal Equity Partners, remain committed to this essential Canadian infrastructure,” Giesbrecht told the CBC.
But among the 209 conditions attached to the approval by the Joint Review Panel Condition 2 said that construction must begin before December 31, 2016. Under Conditions 20 and 21, Enbridge must have secured commitments for at least 60 per cent of the pipeline’s capacity at least six months before starting construction.
Enbridge still doesn’t have any customers and with the world price of oil below $40 US a barrel, the chances of getting customers are slim. In its most recent NEB filing on December 21, 2015, Enbridge stated, “Further to its filing of June 29, 2015, Northern Gateway has not executed firm [transportation service agreements] with its prospective shippers.”
Koenigsberg ‘s ruling doesn’t official stop the Northern Gateway as some are celebrating. Rather the decision means that British Columbia must set up its own review process and then come to a decision. That decision could, in theory, approve Northern Gateway with conditions just as the Joint Review Panel did.
The ruling, which is a major victory for the Gitga’at First Nation, means the equivalency agreement is invalid, that the government must now make its own environmental assessment decision regarding the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, and that it must consult with and accommodate First Nations along the pipeline route about potential impacts to their Aboriginal rights and title.
“This is a huge victory that affirms the provincial government’s duty to consult with and accommodate First Nations and to exercise its decision-making power on major pipeline projects,” said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at First Nation.
“This ruling is an important victory for our communities and presents another hurdle to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline,” said Chief Marilyn Slett, President of the Coastal First Nations. “It means the province must now sit down with First Nation communities across BC and find ways to address the severe and irreversible impacts of this project.”
The constitutional challenge was brought by the Gitga’at First Nation and the Coastal First Nations, and was argued by Joseph Arvay, Q.C., (and his colleagues Catherine Boies Parker and Tim Dickson at Farris LLP ) one of Canada’s pre-eminent constitutional lawyers and an expert in Aboriginal and administrative law.
“The province has been talking a lot about its opposition to oil pipelines in recent days,” said Art Sterritt, a member of the Gitga’at First Nation. “Now it must put its money where its mouth is and apply the same rigorous standards it advocated for during the Joint Review Panel process, while consulting with every single First Nation who would be affected by this project. We’ve said it before: The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is dead.”
The ruling means that, until the province makes a decision on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and issues an Environmental Assessment Certificate, none of the approximately 60 permits, licenses and authorizations necessary for the project to proceed can be issued.
The herring, now dwindling on on the Pacific Coast, was once “superabundant” from Washington State through British Columbia to Alaska and that is a warning for the future, a new study says.
A team of scientists lead by Simon Fraser University argue that the archaeological record on the Pacific Coast offers a “deep time perspective” going back ten thousand years that can be a guide for future management of the herring and other fish species.
An archaeological study looked at 171 First Nations’ sites from Washington to Alaska and recovered and analyzed 435,777 fish bones from various species.
Herring bones were the most abundant and dating shows that herring abundance can be traced from about 10,700 years ago to about the mid-nineteenth century with the arrival of Europeans and the adoption of industrial harvesting methods by both settlers and some First Nations.
That means herring were perhaps the greatest food source for First Nations for ten thousand years surpassing the “iconic salmon.” Herring bones were the most frequent at 56 per cent of the sites surveyed and made up for 49 per cent of the bones at sites overall.
The study is one of many initiatives of the SFU-based Herring School, a group of researchers that investigates the cultural and ecological importance of herring.
“By compiling the largest data set of archaeological fish bones in the Pacific Northwest Coast, we demonstrate the value of using such data to establish an ecological baseline for modern fisheries,” says Iain McKechnie. The SFU archaeology postdoctoral fellow is the study’s lead author and a recent University of British Columbia graduate.
Co-author and SFU archaeology professor Dana Lepofsky states: “Our archaeological findings fit well with what First Nations have been telling us. Herring have always played a central role in the social and economic lives of coastal communities. Archaeology, combined with oral traditions, is a powerful tool for understanding coastal ecology prior to industrial development.”
The researchers drew from their ancient data-catch concrete evidence that long-ago herring populations were consistently abundant and widespread for thousands of years. This contrasts dramatically with today’s dwindling and erratic herring numbers.
“This kind of ecological baseline extends into the past well beyond the era of industrial fisheries. It is critical for understanding the ecological and cultural basis of coastal fisheries and designing sustainable management systems today,” says Ken Lertzman, another SFU co-author. The SFU School of Resource and Environmental Management professor directs the Hakai Network for Coastal People, Ecosystems and Management.
The paper says that the abundance of herring is additionally mirrored in First Nations’ place
names and origin narratives. They give the example of the 2,400-y-old site at Nulu where herring
made up about 85 per cent of the fish found in local middens. In Heiltsuk oral tradition, it is Nulu where Raven first found herring. Another site, 25 kilometres away at the Koeye River, has only has about 10 per cent herring remains and is not associated with herring in Heiltsuk tradition.
(In an e-mail to Northwest Coast Energy News, McKechnie said “there is a paucity of archaeological data from Kitimat and Douglas Channel. There is considerable data from around Prince Rupert, the Dundas Islands and on the central coast Namu/Bella Bella/ Rivers Inlet area and in southern Haida Gwaii.”)
The study says that the archaeological record indicates that places with abundant herring were consistently harvested over time, and suggests that the areas where herring massed or spawned were more extensive and less variable in the past than today. It says that even if there were natural variations in the herring population, the First Nations harvest did not affect the species overall.
Many coastal groups maintained family-owned locations for harvesting herring and herring roe from anchored kelp fronds, eel grass, or boughs of hemlock or cedar trees. Herring was harvested at other times of the year than the spawning period when massing in local waters but most ethnohistorical observations identify late winter and springtime spawning as a key period of harvest for both roe and fish.
The herring and herring roe were either consumed or traded among the First Nations.
Sustainable harvests encouraged by building kelp gardens,wherein some roe covered fronds were not collected, by minimizing noise and movement during spawning events, and by elaborate systems of kin-based rights and responsibilities that regulated herring use and distribution.
Industrial harvesting and widespread consumption changed all that. Large numbers of herring were harvested to for rendering to oil or meal. By 1910, the problem was already becoming clear. In that year British Columbia prohibited the reduction of herring for oil and fertilizer. There were reports at that time that larger bays on the Lower Mainland were “being gradually deserted by the larger schools where they were formerly easily obtained.”
But harvesting continued, in 1927 the fishery on eastern Vancouver Island, Columbia, processed
31,103 tons of herring. The SFU study notes that that is roughly twice the harvest rate for 2012 and would also be about 38 per cent of the current herring biomass in the Strait of Georgia.
In Alaska, reduction of herring began in 1882 and reached a peak of 75,000 tons in 1929.
As the coastal populations dwindled, as with other fisheries, the emphasis moved to deeper water. By the 1960s, the herring populations of British Columbia and Washington had collapsed. Canada banned herring reduction entirely in 1968, Washington followed in the early 1980s.
In the 1970s, the herring population off Japan collapsed, which opened up the demand for North American roe, which targeted female herring as they were ready to spawn. That further reduced the herring population so that the roe fishery is now limited to just a few areas including parts of the Salish Sea and off Sitka and Togiak, Alaska.
The First Nations food, social and ceremonial herring fishery continues.
Government fishery managers, scientists, and local and indigenous peoples lack consensus on the cumulative consequences of ongoing commercial fisheries on herring populations. Many First Nations, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and other local fishers, based on personal observations and traditional knowledge, hypothesize that local herring stocks, on which they consistently relied for generations, have been dramatically reduced and made more difficult to access following 20th century industrial fishing
Deep time perspective
The SFU study says that some fisheries managers are suggesting that the herring population has just shifted to other locations and other causes may be climate change and the redounding of predator populations.
But the study concludes, that:
Our data support the idea that if past populations of Pacific herring exhibited substantial variability, then this variability was expressed around a high enough mean abundance such that there was adequate herring available for indigenous fishers to sustain their harvests but avoid the extirpation of local populations.
These records thus demonstrate a fishery that was sustainable at local and regional scales over millennia, and a resilient relationship between harvesters, herring, and environmental change that has been absent in the modern era.
Archaeological data have the potential to provide a deep time perspective on the interaction between humans and the resources on which they depend.
Furthermore, the data can contribute significantly toward developing temporally meaningful ecological baselines that avoid the biases of shorter-term records.
Other universities participating in the study were the University of British Columbia, University of Oregon, Portland State University, Lakehead University, University of Toronto, Rutgers University and the University of Alberta.
So far, since I returned to Kitimat, I have had few chances to “go down the Channel,” as the people of Kitimat say.
Of course, when I do go, I always have a camera with me, even in the roughest weather–and the Channel can be rough most of the year.
It is in these waters that the energy industry, both the Enbridge Northern Gateway and the Liquefied Natural Gas projects want to use supertankers to send their products to markets in Asia. Many of the photographers who come to Douglas Channel in high summer choose to capture the brilliant colours of ocean, forest and mountain, as I have on several assignments.
For this gallery, I have chosen to use black and white to show the stark beauty of the mountains, the often menacing seas and the clouds, ever changing, as the westerly winds from the Pacific drive those clouds against the mountains.
Images from this gallery are available for purchase for personal, editorial and commercial use on Photoshelter. Simply click on the image above.
The Haisla Nation, in its response to a series of questions about funding posed by Enbridge through the Joint Review process, has replied that it “ takes offence at the implication that its participation in the Joint Review Panel process is strictly to oppose the Northern Gateway Project.”
In its response to Enbridge, the Haisla Nation says it has received no funding from Tides Canada.
The Haisla Nation, however, does detail what funding it has received, including some from Enbridge, and then counters that with details of just how expensive it is to participate in the Joint Review Process.
The Haisla say that in December, 2009, the First Nation asked the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency for $1,593,900 for participating in the Joint Review Panel process over the next two years.
According to the document filed with the JRP, the Haisla Nation says the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency offered $371,500, leaving a shortfall of $1,222,400.
The Haisla say that they have now reviewed that original application and the First Nation “notes that even the $1,593,900 sought in the original application for participant funding would not be enough to cover these costs.”
The Haisla acknowledge that they did receive funding from Enbridge Northern Gateway The Haisla Nation has received funding from the Northern Gateway “to prepare and provide a traditional use study in relation to the proposed project,” without stating the actual amount, adding that participating in the JRP has created a deficit “costing the Haisla Nation funds that will need to be diverted from other pressing projects and issues.”
Enbridge’s next question asked if the Haisla Nation was a member of the Turning Point/Great Bear Initiative and therefore had received funding for “opposing the Northern Gateway Project?”
The Haisla reply that:
The Haisla Nation takes offence at the implication that its participation in the Joint Review Panel process is strictly to oppose the Northern Gateway Project. As set out above, the Haisla Nation is participating in the Joint Review Panel process as it is currently the only process for assessing the proposed project. This process has been imposed without meaningful consideration of Haisla Nation concerns, and the Haisla Nation is participating despite an unlevel playing field.
The Haisla Nation has not received funding from the Turning Point/Great Bear Initiative to participate in the Joint Review Panel proceedings, to oppose the Northern Gateway Project, or for any other purpose regarding the Northern Gateway Project.
The Haisla then emphasize:
The Haisla Nation has not received funding from Tides Canada or similar organizations, either directly or indirectly, to participate in the Joint Review Panel proceedings, to oppose the Northern Gateway Project, or for any other purpose regarding the Northern Gateway Project.
The next question from Enbridge not only asked about the personal finances of members of the Haisla Nation council, but also showed that even after years of involvement with First Nations, Enbridge still hasn’t done its homework and can’t even spell “Kitamaat.”
Have any members of the Kitimaat Village Council received funding from Tides Canada or similar organizations to participate in this proceeding or to otherwise oppose the Northern Gateway Project, either directly or indirectly? If so, how much funding was received and by whom?
The Haisla reply by saying
This question is beyond the scope of matters currently before the Joint Review
Panel. Nevertheless, the Haisla Nation offers the following information:
“Kitimaat Village Council” is a misspelling of the former name of the Haisla
Nation Council. The Haisla Nation Council is the elected government of the
The Haisla Nation Council is governed by rules and a code of ethics that require disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest. If any member of Haisla Nation Council had received funding from Tides Canada or similar organizations in their personal capacity, they would have had to disclose this to Council.
None of these members have received funding from Tides Canada or similar organizations, either directly or indirectly, to participate in the Joint Review Panel proceedings, to oppose the Northern Gateway Project, or for any other purpose regarding the Northern Gateway Project.
The final question from Enbridge asked the Haisla, in the financial disclosure to
“include funding received by the Headwaters Initiative.”
The Haisla reply:
Headwaters Initiative has no affiliation with the Haisla Nation Council. The Haisla Nation Council has no information about funding received by Headwaters Initiative.
That question again shows again that despite years of involvement in northwestern British Columbia, Enbridge hasn’t done its homework, since the Headwaters Initiative is an environmental organization with members from not only the Haisla Nation but also non-aboriginal residents of both Kitimat and Terrace.
It appears that Enbridge was asking those questions as part of a preparation for a “follow the money” spin campaign building on the work of blogger Vivian Krause and her right-wing supporters in the business media. If so, so far, it hasn’t worked out very well for Enbridge. Haisla Nation Response to NGP Information Request (pdf)
Coastal First Nations have filed a notice of motion with the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel, which, in effect, would compel the province of British Columbia to participate in the proceedings considering the future of the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project.
So far the province, from Premier Christy Clark and Environment Minister Terry Lake down to the lawyer representing the province at the JRP, Christopher Jones, have refused to take part.
A 30-page technical report containing the B.C. government’s assessment of the proposed Northern Gateway project sits on Environment Minister Terry Lake’s desk. Still, his government remains silent on the plan to build a pipeline across northern B.C. to get Alberta oil to Asian markets.
The motion requests an order from the JRP that would have:
a) The JRP to compel the Intervenor, the Province of British Columbia, to file
the technical report containing the B.C. government’s assessment of the
proposed Northern Gateway project reported on in The Globe and Mail
newspaper on Sunday June 3, 2012.
b) The JRP to compel the Province of British Columbia to file any other reports
or assessments it has done on the Project.
c) The JRP to allow Intervenors an opportunity to file Information Requests on
any evidence filed by the Province of British Columbia.
d) The JRP to compel the Province of British Columbia to indicate whether or
not it will issue a Certificate for the Project pursuant to the BC Environmental
e) The JRP to compel the Province of British Columbia to indicate whether it
intends to consult with First Nations on the Project, and if so, how and when?
If the Joint Review Panel does compel British Columbia to release documents and therefore participate in the hearings, it would make the Northern Gateway issue even more front and centre in provincial politics, something Premier Christy Clark, who is in trouble in the polls, has been trying to avoid.
Coastal First Nations filed this statement of facts with its motion:
Statement of Facts
The Province of British Columbia is an Intervenor in the JRP process but has not filed
any evidence with the JRP.
The Province of British Columbia has prepared a technical report containing the B.C.
government’s assessment of the proposed Northern Gateway Project (reported on in
the Globe and Mail newspaper on Sunday June 3, 2012).1
The proposed Project [both the plant at Kitimat (energy storage facility) and the
pipeline (transmission pipeline)] is a reviewable project under the B.C.
Environmental Assessment Act, Reviewable Projects Regulation, [includes
amendments up to B.C. Reg. 4/2010, January 14, 2010].
The Project has the potential to significantly affect in an adverse manner the interests of CFN and its members’ Aboriginal Rights and Title.
Grounds for the Motion
The Province of British Columbia has economic and environmental interests that are
potentially affected by the Project.
The Province of British Columbia will be required to issue a variety of approvals for
the Project including Crown tenures and leases.
The Province of British Columbia has legal obligations to consult First Nations about
the proposed project.
The Province of British Columbia plays a significant role in oil spill responses and is
a member of the Pacific States – BC Oil Spill Task Force established to develop
coordinated programs for oil pollution prevention, abatement, and response.
Decision or Order Sought
CFN respectfully requests the following relief:
The JRP to compel the Intervenor, the Province of British Columbia, to file the
technical report containing the B.C. government’s assessment of the proposed
Northern Gateway project (reported on in the Globe and Mail newspaper on
Sunday June 3, 2012).
The Gitga’at First Nation at Hartley Bay report that a large oil slick has been spotted in Grenville Channel near Hartley Bay. It is believed that the oil is coming from the USAT Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski, a U.S. army transport ship that sank in 1946 with 700 tonnes of bunker fuel on board.
A news release from the Gitga’at says the oil spill is between between two and five miles (four to eight kilometres) long and 200 feet wide (70 metres) inside the Grenville Channel.
A Canadian Coast Guard vessel from Prince Rupert is expected in the area sometime this afternoon.
The Gitga’at are sending their own Guardians to take samples and have chartered a plane to take aerial photos of the spill, the release says.
“If this spill is as big as the pilots are reporting, then we’re looking at serious environmental impacts, including threats to our traditional shellfish harvesting areas,” says Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at Nation. “We need an immediate and full clean-up response from the federal government ASAP.”
The USAT Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski was carrying Bunker C when it sank. The First Nation says the Canadian government has been saying it would remove the oil and munitions from the ship since 2006, but with no results.
“Right now we’re focused on getting a handle on the size of the spill and the clean-up that’s required,” says Clifton. “But this incident definitely raises questions about the federal government’s ability to guard against oil spills and to honour its clean-up obligations. As a result, our nation has serious concerns about any proposal to have tankers travel through our coastal waters, including the Enbridge proposal.”
The spill is just the latest in a series of spills of bunker oil and diesel coming from the Zalinski and the BC Ferry Queen of the North, which sank in 2006. Despite government assurances of clean-up, both wreckages continue to leak fuel, fouling the marine environment, and heightening the fear of future oil spills.
The Gitga’at depend on the ocean for 40 per cent of their traditional diet.
According to Wikipedia, the Zalinksi was enroute from Seattle to Whittier Island, Alaska, when it struck rocks at Pitt Island on Grenville Channel 0n September 26 1946, 55 miles (88 kilometres) south of Prince Rupert. The ship sank within twenty minutes, while her crew of 48 were rescued by the tug Sally N and the passenger steamer SS Catala. According to a report in The Vancouver Sun on September 30, 1946, at the time of her sinking she was transporting a cargo of at least twelve 500-pound (230 kg) bombs, large amounts of .30 and .50 caliber ammunition, at least 700 tonnes of bunker oil, and truck axles with army type tires.
Oil was first spotted leaking in Grenville Channel in 2003 and the wreck of the Zalinski was identified later that year by a remotely operated undersea vessel.
Hartley Bay is the entrance to Douglas Channel where tankers will go to Kitimat for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and three liquified natural gas projects.
You can expect a newspaper in Alberta to support the oil-patch, that’s a major part of its audience, its advertising market, its mandate. A newspaper supporting local industry is perfectly fine in a free and democratic society.
The question has to be asked: does that support include juvenile name calling, worthy of a spoiled 13-year-old? In an editorial Friday, The Calgary Herald calls the opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline “eco-pests.”
Note I said “spoiled” 13-year-old. There are many 13-year-olds across Canada who are clearly more mature than The Calgary Herald editorial board.
The editorial goes goes over the same old line that environmentalists are “stacking” or “hijacking” the hearings. The Herald, like the rest of the Alberta media, trumpets the expose that two people out of the more than 4,000 who signed up for the hearings are from Brazil.
Those two people from Brazil, who may have signed up inadvertently, are just .005 per cent of the total number who want speak, either as intervenors or present 10-minute comments.
So far no foreign billionaires have appeared before the hearings. Why not? After all, foreign billionaires can afford to hire all the fancy energy lawyers they need from the glass towers in downtown Calgary if they wanted to be real intervenors.
So far everyone who has appeared before what the Joint Review Panel is now calling “Community Hearings” are, to use a shopworn but applicable phrase, “ordinary people,” most of them members of First Nations directly affected by the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
The Herald says:
Regulatory reviews must be efficient and credible, and the government must not sacrifice sound environmental review for the sake of haste. But when the process becomes so cumbersome that Canada becomes uncompetitive, the federal government is rightfully forced to act.
That paragraph is typical of the coverage from The Calgary Herald going back years. Up until recently, every story in The Calgary Herald added a mandatory paragraph about “First Nations and environmentalists” opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline, without ever going into details, without ever bothering to send a reporter across the Rockies into British Columbia. Only now that there is widespread opposition to the pipeline across British Columbia is the Herald paying condescending attention. That sentence “must not sacrifice sound environmental review” is just another meaningless example of an obligatory journalistic catch phrase, added to the editorial in a vain attempt to achieve “balance.”
No wonder the media is losing credibility at warp speed.
Do you realize that while Calgary may be the headquarters of the energy industry in Alberta, Calgary itself is no where near the route of the Northern Gateway pipeline? That means that while Calgary gets let’s say 98 per cent of the benefits from the Northern Gateway pipeline, it takes absolutely none of the risk.
So while the Herald says
Warning that lengthy reviews cause investment dollars to leave Canada, [Natural Resources Minister Joe] Oliver properly enunciated a simple goal: “one project, one review in a clearly defined time period.” Imagine a process where each side presents its facts and a decision is rendered.
One has to wonder if the attitude would be any different if a major pipeline breach would mean that the entire city of Calgary would have to exist on bottled water for two or more years, a scenario for Kitimat if there is bitumen pipeline breach along our water supply, the Kitimat River (entirely possible given all the landslides here). If the Calgary water supply was threatened, how many people in Calgary would sign up to speak to a Joint Review Panel?
One has to wonder how quickly the Herald editorial board and its oil-patch loving columnists would change their minds after say just two or three weeks of lining up for those water bottles?
The problem is much deeper than that. The Calgary Herald editorial is only reflecting an attitude that seems to be widespread in the city. Over the past several weeks, there have been numerous posts on Twitter hashtagged #Kitimat, saying that because Kitimat is not within the actual boundaries of the Great Bear Rainforest, we apparently don’t live in the rainforest. Some tweets suggest that if you actually say that Kitimat is in the middle of a vast coastal rainforest, you are lying, anti-Conservative (highly likely) and (here quoting the Herald, not the tweet) an “eco-pest.”
The political agenda on the Northern Gateway pipeline is being driven by people in Alberta who live far from the pipeline route itself even in Alberta, are at least 2,000 kilometres from Kitimat, have never been to Kitimat, make up their minds by looking at maps (apparently they don’t even bother to look at Google Earth which would show all the forest around Kitimat) and won’t have to lift a finger to clean up after a pipeline breach or tanker disaster. Given attitude of many in Alberta toward taxes, they certainly wouldn’t want to help pay for the clean up either. They’ll leave it to the taxpayers of British Columbia and the people of northwestern British Columbia to deal with the mess, while again, reaping all the benefits from the energy industry.
This attitude ranges from twits on Twitter to the academic community.
About century ago, there was a similar attitude seen in academia, in the newspapers, and with the “man on the street” (since women didn’t count back then). It was the attitude in Europe toward African colonies, that the colonies existed for the sole benefit of the “mother country.”
Alberta, it seems, increasingly sees northern British Columbia as a colony, existing for the sole benefit of that province. It is likely that if some Calgary academic did some research, that academic could find a nineteenth century editorial referring to revolting colonials or rebelling natives as “pests.”