Defence of coast motivates MP

The threat posed by Enbridge’s pipeline and supertankers is a clear and present danger.

Dear Sir:

I was interested to read in the October 1st edition of The Terrace Standard a response from guest columnist Malcolm Baxter to my bill to stop Enbridge Northern Gateway.

While Mr. Baxter makes a number of interesting points for debate, it’s the underlying assumption and conclusion of his column – that this effort has been undertaken “mostly [for] political posturing” – which I find disappointing and inaccurate. I am grateful for the opportunity to respond.

My bill, An Act to Defend the Pacific Northwest (C-628), proposes three things: it would stop the Enbridge Northern Gateway project by enacting an oil tanker ban on the North Coast; it would force pipeline proponents to look at adding value to resources and creating jobs in Canada; and it would strengthen consultations between the federal government and communities and First Nations at pipeline reviews.

Mr. Baxter is concerned about the technical language used in the bill. The wording of the bill is the most direct way to ensure that our coast continues to remain tanker-free and I use the terms supertanker and bulk oil tankers frequently.

Let’s also be clear: there is no contradiction between encouraging more upgrading and refining in Canada, and enacting an oil tanker ban on the North Coast. Canada imports half of its energy from places like Algeria and Saudi Arabia.

The threat posed by Enbridge’s pipeline and supertankers is a clear and present danger to our economy, environment and way of life. Sending 220 supertankers laden with diluted bitumen through the Douglas Channel every year – or 11,000 over the full 50-year life cycle of the project – when government and industry admit that cleaning up a diluted bitumen spill is virtually impossible. Ask the good folks of Kalamazoo, Michigan what their experience has been like.

Communities and First Nations across the Northwest and British Columbia have widely condemned the proposal – but have been ignored by the federal government. And the Alberta Federation of Labour estimates that up to 25,000 jobs could be created Canada if the amount Enbridge intends to export raw was upgraded and refined in Canada.

My bill seeks to put respect and shared benefit back into the national conversation on energy. That is why I was proud that Coastal First Nations (who represent First Nations across B.C.’s north and central coasts and Haida Gwaii) and Canada’s largest private sector union, UNIFOR, were the first two organizations to lend my bill their support. Town councils, environment groups and ordinary citizens from across the north and around B.C. are coming on-board as well.

The Act to Defend the Pacific Northwest is a sincere effort at protecting what we as British Columbians and Canadians value most, while correcting some of the worst mistakes of the Harper Conservatives. I will reach out to B.C. MPs from all parties and have received good support so far. Far from “political posturing”, this is an important moment in a conversation that has been taking place in our region for a decade – and one that is bringing people together across the most unlikely lines.

By the way, I take no offence at being called the MLA, but happily Robin Austin holds that position for us in Victoria.

Nathan Cullen, Member of Parliament,

Skeena – Bulkley Valley,

Ottawa, Ontario