The most recent decision by Terrace city council to continue to support a deeply flawed environmental review process for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline shows a very convenient view of their responsibilities.
But the reason some councilors gave for remaining silent are utter hypocrisy. This council has repeatedly taken positions on major development projects before those projects cleared environmental review processes. Sorry, that excuse is not available to you.
Particularly disappointing was Carol Leclerc’s assertion that “I think by staying neutral, we’re staying on safe ground”. This is leadership? Safe from what? The ire of Calgary oil execs? I voted for Carol in the last election believing she would be a strong practical voice for Terrace, and that she had the courage to speak out when necessary. Disappointing.
By saying that we should wait until three panelists, none of whom live in BC, makes a non-binding recommendation to a government that has already refused the will of Parliament in regard to a crude oil tanker ban, is not a neutral position, but a clear position that they support this flawed process.
Councillors Pollard, Leclerc and Downie, as well as the mayor, seem willing to let someone else make this decision for them, and in effect are saying they would support crude oil tankers on the north coast, if these strangers tell them to.
If you say you haven’t made up your mind on the project, it means you haven’t made up your mind on the tanker issue.
Despite what Pat Daniels or Stephen Harper says, banning tar sands tankers from our coast will not kill our economy. The ban on tar sands tankers by coastal First Nations is reasonable, informed and right on the mark, and Terrace needs to support it wholeheartedly.
These councilors have clearly misread the will of the overwhelming majority of British Columbians, and Terracites, the majority of Parliament, and almost every FN community that lies along the proposed pipeline route.
The list includes the BC Union of Municipalities, 61 Fraser watershed aboriginal communities, and the nine First Nation communities of the Coastal First Nations, all of whom who adamantly oppose tar sands crude oil tankers transiting our coast.
Even the Province newspaper, hardly a left wing enviro rag, has come out against this project.
They would do well to remember what happened to Roger Harris when he failed to listen to residents, and supported salmon farms, by his being safe and silent, on the north coast.
Harris, a junior cabinet minister and on a fast track to being a full minister, lost his seat, and experienced the single largest turnaround of voter support of any riding in the entire province.
Enbridge was asked by the Joint Review Panel to re-submit its marine response plans, which it did.
Despite a mind-numbing amount of graphs and charts by their hired apologists and spin-doctors, the response plan remains essentially the same once you peel away the layers.
They still propose skimmers, inflatable booms, and dispersants, which are known toxic, carcinogenic chemicals.
This is not a legitimate response plan, but a proposal to employ the same tactics that failed with the Exxon Valdez, the Gulf oil spill, and the Kalamazoo river spill, and the Pine River spill. Hardly state of the art, or new.
This is not about a mine in some remote wilderness, and it is not about cutting down trees that can grow back. Our coast is not Louisiana, and we are not Republicans.
Our coast and our rivers are unique, and recognized by just about everybody as a global treasure.
They are the very foundation of much of our economy, and this controversy is about the very core of why we choose to live here, and the survival of precious and unique indigenous communities and cultures.
This is not a decision that we can, or should, leave to others to decide for us.
The people of this region have decided on this issue already, and it is an informed decision.
We don’t need a panel of so-called experts to judge whether this project makes sense or can be safe.
The choice for municipal leaders is clear – your constituents are asking you to speak out on this critical issue, to take a stand, to lead.
There is no safe ground on this issue available to you. You will be judged by your position, or lack of one.
But more so, you will be judged by history, your children and grand children, and your neighbours.
Bruce Hill, Terrace, BC