A lower Mainland MP says the federal Conservative government is stomping on democracy by turning a deaf ear to cries against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline project.
In an informal community meeting held in Terrace last week, Vancouver-Quadra Liberal MP Joyce Murray talked to residents about the project and said the Conservatives have shown unwillingness to listen to people about the issue.
She noted the federal government has given itself the authority to decide whether large projects go ahead or not, which goes against the federal review process currently in place.
“Our environmental safety net is being weakened and damaged,” she said about the current federal policy spearheaded by a majority Conservative government.
“I have to ask as an MP, do we have a democracy? Will we decide that we’re going to allow the government to override our regulatory processes?”
Of the 13 people who showed up to the Best Western Hotel in Terrace May 23 to meet with Murray, councillor Marylin Davies said the city has heard overwhelming opposition to the project.
“My feeling isn’t if, it’s when,” said Davies of a spill happening if the pipeline becomes operational.
She said she’s largely concerned about a spill resulting from an oil tanker travelling through the Pacific, and arguments ensuing about who will be responsible for cleaning it up.
Terrace resident John How also voiced concerned about the regulatory process, adding he is also disappointed with the provincial government’s lack of involvement in the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel hearings.
He asked Murray how residents here can petition the province to become involved, which it still has the ability to do by evoking a certain power.
Murray added that residents should take it to local NDP MLA Robin Austin, and that larger numbers of voices are more effective.
After the meeting, Murray reflected on what she’s heard about the project.
“I think it was pretty clear in the meeting that I had at the hotel there that the people don’t think its going to be a net benefit to the area,” she said. “Certainly it fit into a concern that, as expressed by First Nations, that they are not being respected, consulted and included in the way that they need to be.”
Murray had earlier hoped to convince the federal government to ban oil tanker traffic from travelling ocean waters around Haida Gwaii. She introduced a private member’s bill to that effect last year but it died when Parliament was dissolved leading up to the May 2011 federal election.
After her talks in Terrace, Murray said her next step is to share those issues with her Liberal colleagues and that information is then taken into consideration while making federal policy decisions.