‘THIS is a pretty shocking thing.”
That was Skeena NDP MP Nathan Cullen’s reaction to the Gitxsan hereditary chiefs’ announcement they had struck a deal with Enbridge.
“I am hearing from board members from the Gitxsan that had no idea this decision was coming,” he said, adding, “House leaders in groups that should have been involved in such a critical decision are totally blind-sided this morning,” said Cullen Dec. 2, just hours after the deal was announced.
Cullen said that in all the meetings and forums he had attended in the area, the opposition to the project had been overwhelming.
Therefore, “the notion that the Gitxsan as a nation are in favour of this project is very hard for me to believe.”
And in fact, “it’s been the absolute opposite from day one – and no amount of money is going to change that.”
Noting Derrick had pointed to the problems the Gitxsan faced – high unemployment and suicides – Cullen was asked if the hereditary chiefs might not simply be doing what’s best for their communities.
Saying he was well aware of the problems in the Hazeltons area, Cullen said, “I understand the desperation, but this is economic and environmental suicide.”
He quickly added, “I am trying to be respectful, I’m trying to be fair…but this is very frustrating.”
Cullen said, “I think you’re going to hear from people. I wouldn’t put this support as a fait accompli.”
As for Derrick’s contention that the pipeline could be operated safely, Cullen said he was sure Derrick believed that. However, the fact that you could operate a car safely didn’t mean there wouldn’t be accidents, Cullen said.
“This kind of accident [a spill] would be a lot more than a fender-bender. This could threaten an entire eco-system and a way of life,” the MP added.
(With files from The Northern Sentinel.)