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Cullen 'disappointed' by panel's decision to recommend pipeline

Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said he was not surprised by the announcement that the Joint Review Panel had recommended approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, but he was disappointed.

“The process from the beginning was bias to find a positive outcome for the company and to ignore the 10,000-plus submission from British Columbians who said they didn't want it. 'Yes' seemed to be the only answer that could come out of the panel,” he said.

“The risks far outweigh the benefits but the project will move on to the next stage, which I am guessing will be the courts as First Nations are prepared for that ... this has only further marginalized the voices of First Nations people. The government just said to 78 First Nations who opposed this pipeline, 'we don't care'.”

Cullen said he expects the public will begin to mobilize and take action, but said he doesn't expect that action to include civil disobedience.

“We are a long way from that. There are pending court cases, there are many opportunities for peaceful protest before shovels hit the ground ...there is a federal election in 2015 and, more immediately, a municipal election in 2014 and this will be a ballot issue,” he said.

“The risks are still the risks and we cannot allow this for ourselves and, more importantly, for future generations.”

Cullen said if he had one message to Stephen Harper and Enbridge, it would be to find a way to back down while there is still time.

“It is ultimately going to be a very destructive thing. They are not going to build the pipeline and they are going to do a lot of damage along the way,” he said.

“This does not lead anywhere good, certainly not for Enbridge or the federal government.”

And the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce isn't ready yet to comment on the panel's report.

Chamber president Janice Shaben said the business group would be polling its members early in the new year.

In February 2012, just after Terrace city council voted to oppose Northern Gateway, the chamber executive released a letter saying that while it took a neutral stance to the pipeline project until the review panel had released its report, it did welcome new industry to the area.

Since then, said chamber executive director Carol Fielding, it heard from a number of its members.

“We did write the letter that spoke to the fact that we are looking forward to all the new industries are coming. But quite a few of our members were opposed. I thinks it's a split decision. After that letter hit the paper we had some calls from our members,” said Fielding.

With files from Shaun Thomas and Josh Massey

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