From Common Sense Canadian contributor Kevin Logan comes this multimedia examination of where Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberal Party really stand on proposed oil pipelines and tankers in BC.
Christy Clark and the BC Liberals have made a lot of bold claims about their position on pipelines proposed for British Columbia.
However, what they have neglected to tell British Columbians is that their government has entered into binding agreements that ensure the success of pipelines from Alberta to the BC Coast.
Everyone knows there has been a lot of politics surrounding pipeline developments in British Columbia, but very few are aware of the longstanding agreements, established by the BC Liberals, that ensure the success of the proposed pipelines and have thoroughly tied the hands of all BC Stakeholders leaving them with no capacity to actually impact the processes that will ensure the success of these developments.
The Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) and New West Partnership Agreement (NWPA) which it developed into absolutely confirm that no level of government in British Columbia can block pipeline development. Nor can they impede trade through the province or create any obstacle, whatsoever, that prevents pipelines from Alberta from reaching BC's tidal waters. Doing so would result in fines of up to 5 million dollars per infraction.
The June 2010 "Equivalency Agreement", done in secret by the BC Liberals with the Harper Conservative Government - and against the letter of the law - forfeits BC's ability to review, assess and decide on these pipeline proposals which threaten to transform the province as we know it.
The video presents these documents, and exposes the BC Liberal election posturing on pipelines as hollow and meaningless. These concepts, backed by government documentation, have been published online and are readily available for anyone interested.
Yet Christy Clark has never publicly acknowledged their existence. More importantly, she has also positioned her party for re-election on claims that run counter to these indisputable facts.
In fact, the material contained in the above video proves that Christy Clark's claims that she can block or prevent these pipeline proposals, based on her "tough NEW stance" and "5 conditions" is without merit, not based in reality and ignores the existence of these agreements of her government's own making.
The video closes with live footage from the most recent Estimates debate for the Ministry of Energy, where the Minister of Everything, Rich Coleman, is on tape discussing his government's "non-disclosure agreements" with the world's largest oil companies.
This fact has gone unreported and exposes the bold hypocrisy of the BC Liberal campaign, which has had the audacity to broadly claim the BC NDP is "concealing" their position on these pipeline developments.
There is not one mainstream media report that covers the "non-disclosure agreements" the world's largest oil and gas companies have with the BC Liberals, even though the minister responsible has made their existence known in the public debate contained in this video.
Stories on these topics (see below) have been published on the internet for over a year, yet no one has refuted them, and Christy Clark has never publicly acknowledged their existence.
They impact all British Columbians and are crucial to our future.
Read this story from the Terrace Standard on BC Conservative Party candidate Mike Brousseau's opposition to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, running counter to his party's official position. Brousseau's riding encompasses much of the proposed pipeline route and the would-be tanker terminal in Kitimat. (April 24, 2013)
ENBRIDGE shouldn’t be allowed to build its Northern Gateway oil pipeline from Alberta to a planned marine export terminal at Kitimat, says Skeena BC Conservative candidate Mike Brousseau.
“Integrity for me with Gateway just doesn’t add up,” said Brousseau of the $5.5 billion project now in the final stages of a federal environmental review.
Brousseau, who was born in Michigan, still has relatives living in the Kalamazoo area where an Enbridge pipeline broke in 2010.
Company officials weren’t aware of the leak for hours, resulting in significant spillage into the Kalamazoo River.
“There’s been a cover-up,” said Brousseau of work done there to clean up the spill.
“Do you think I want that happening here? No way, Jose.”
Brousseau termed Enbridge a “globalist” company concerned only with profits and not communities or the environment.
“It doesn’t work top down. It needs to work bottom up,” said Brousseau of how decisions should be made and how companies should do business.
“From the top down, people are oppressed. People aren’t represented at a global level.”
And although Brousseau’s position is opposite to that of the BC Conservative party, which is in support of Northern Gateway, that’s fine by him.
“I can go against the party if I wish,” says Brousseau. “He supports me in doing that,” Brousseau added of party leader John Cummins.
“This is not a party like the NDP or the Liberals with a whip system,” Brousseau said of the term used in politics whereby party discipline is enforced.
“I get my advice from the people. I am the people’s candidate.”
Brousseau said his position might change, as long as people also approved, of a pipeline construction plan that included the highest level of environmental protection and monitoring.
Read this story and watch video on questionable tactics undertaken by pipeline builder Enbidge to curry favour with landowners and communities along the route of its proposed Line 9 expansion to eastern Canada. (April 21, 2013)
MONTREAL — The town of Mirabel got $10,000, and put it toward the cost of a generator for its fire department. Belleville, Ont., got $25,000 to turn a city bus into a mobile emergency command centre. And just two weeks ago, Vaudreuil-Dorion got $20,000 for new hazardous material and communications equipment for its fire department.
What do these towns have in common?
They are all on or near the route of Enbridge’s 9B oil pipeline, and just as the company is seeking approval for its controversial project to reverse and substantially increase the flow of crude oil through the pipeline, it has given these and other towns sizable donations.
Made in the name of “safe communities,” the donations are legal, proponents and critics concede.
But as the April 19 deadline approached for towns to seek permission to speak before the National Energy Board reviewing the proposal, the question was whether Enbridge expects something in return.
The news out of the Joint Review Panel looking into the Enbridge pipeline should have a profound effect on us all.
One of the conditions is a requirement that Enbridge carry close to $1 billion in insurance, plus $100 million on hand to cover losses from spills.
I find this interesting, since normally an assessment of future damages covered is accompanied by an assessment of the risk to be covered. What is the size of the risk and how big a part of that risk will be taken? This so in every kind of insurance - be it life, casualty, automobile, what have you. This means not only must there be an assessment of the risk - i.e. is there likely to be a loss - but how much is a loss going to cost? This is especially true of casualty insurance, as the Joint Review Panel is dealing with here.
The second critical point is whether or not the insurer will continue to cover Enbridge after a loss has occurred? Can they cancel, leaving Enbridge’s further damages up to us the people?
This story will be seen (Enbridge hopes) as an encouraging sign, because opponents will be shut up now that these big numbers are involved.
I am not impressed – indeed quite the opposite – for this indicates that the Joint Panel thinks that there’s a risk involved. There is in fact a certainty. Dealing with this as simply “a risk” and announcing the coverage required is asking us to accept that “risk” because the damages are prepaid. Moreover, the amount of insurance involved is nowhere near what the ultimate cost will be and ignores the question: what will the long range cost to our environment be and how do you comopute that loss?
If one uses, as an example, the Enbridge spill into the Kalamazoo River, two years later they had used up all of their insurance of $650 million. The cleanup continues and the cost is expected to be over a billion dollars and much of the damage is forever.
Enbridge will be required to demonstrate insurance coverage at $950 billion - roughly equivalent cost of the Kalamazoo spill. BUT, the Kalamazoo spill was easily accessed. There were no mountain ranges like the Rockies or the Coast Range; no Rocky Mountain Trench; no Great Bear Rainforest to contend with. Let us, for God’s sake, ask a key question: How does Enbridge have access to spills on land? How does it get labour and heavy equipment to the spill? Doesn't the Kalamazoo spill demonstrate that there can never be a total cleanup?
The BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has cost, so far, about $36 billion and rising.
Another critical question is who insures oil tankers, especially when many of them will be owned by companies flying a flag of convenience like Panama, the Cayman Islands and the like?
How is a coastal spill to be cleaned up and at whose cost?
What the people of British Columbia are certainly to have are spills on land and sea for which they will pay much of the cleanup out of their taxes. What we are also certain to have is enormous environmental damage forever.
Finally, the pronouncement of the Joint Review Panel should be assessing the frequency and probability of damage and laying that before the public for a decision as to whether or not these pipelines should be built in the first place.
This won’t be done and the Harper government is on record giving its approval of these pipelines no matter what the National Energy Board recommends.
Given the Kalamazoo experience, how does Enbridge control and clean up a spill when the only access is by helicopter? Every way one looks at this case shows huge costs - much paid by the public - with permanent damage to our environment.
It's been another appallingly bad week for proponents of pipeline safety and new oil infrastructure. If the industry's woeful historical record - from the Exxon Valdez to BP's Gulf of Mexico catastrophe to Enbridge's trashing of the Kalamazoo - isn't enough to turn people off of new pipelines and tanker routes, this slew of recent spills should seal the deal.
These incidents couldn't have come at a worse time for the oil and pipeline industries, as US President Barack Obama prepares to announce his final decision in the coming months on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to Port Arthur, Texas.
Let's review the record over the last week:
•This past friday, ExxonMobil's Pegasus Pipeline coated the streets of Mayflower, Arkansas with what CNN describes as a "smelly, asphalt-like crude" (i.e. diluted bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands - the same kind the proposed Keystone XL would carry). These photos illustrate the effects of the spill on the sleepy Little Rock suburb - see the viral video captured by a local resident below.
• Enbridge was back at it again last week, with the fourth recorded spill in two months along its Norman Wells Pipeline through the Northwest Territories. The company has leaked an estimated million litres of oil since February, 2011, from this one pipeline, prompting the National Energy Board to order an engineering assessment of the chronically malfunctioning line.
• Meanwhile, back at the Alberta Tar Sands, Suncor was dealing with (and furiously downplaying) a leak from one of its massive waste ponds into the Athabasca River. This comes on the heels of a leaked memo to Conservative Resources Minister Joe Oliver, which acknowledged routine spillage from these ponds throughout the Tar Sands.
• Over the weekend, Michigan was hit with another spill - this time up to 500 gallons of hydraulic oil spilled into the Lansing Grand River during an equipment malfunction at a local utility.
• For those who would look to rail as an alternative to pipelines for transporting oil, there was the derailment last week of a CP Rail train, spilling an estimated 30,000 gallons of its crude cargo in western Minnesota.
This latest spate of spills should give pause to President Obama as he contemplates the Keystone XL - and to Canadian citizens and lawmakers debating several new pipeline proposals of our own.
It's time to put to rest the notion that oil spills are "accidents". They are, rather, a routine function of the business of extracting, transporting, and consuming oil - a good reason to spend our energy and resources on developing sustainable alternatives, not further entrenching our dependence on fossil fuels through new oil infrastructure.
I’ve got to say it, Premier: you don’t know a damned thing about pipelines and tankers.
Do you not understand that the rupture of a pipeline or "accident" with a tanker is mathematically inevitable? That we’re not talking risks but certainties? Your friends in the business community like to call these things “risks” in order to convince people that they’re not likely to happen. Think on this, Premier – if an accident is not going to happen, why make multimillion dollar facilities to clean them up?
The theorem is not that something can be an “acceptable risk” but that an “ongoing risk” is a certainty waiting to happen. You simply must understand this, Premier, or you are selling out the Province. As they say, shit happens.
You would have laughed, as we all would have on March 21, 2006, to think that a BC Ferry would sink, yet the following day that is just what happened.
Prior to June, 2012, we would all have scoffed at the thought that a luxury liner, on a fine day, would sink, causing several deaths and injuries.
Having agreed on that, we must assess what the damage will be. With an airplane we know that. When we get on a plane we’re betting on the odds being in our favour, but the fact that there will be crashes is a certainty. We are also prepared to concede that if our jet crashes, we’ll be dead.
If we’re to be honest, Premier, what we’re asking is not what are the odds of this happening, since we know that it will. As long as human beings are involved, there will be human error. It’s not a matter if airplanes will crash but what are the odds on it happening, say, in a month.
It is the same with pipelines and tankers – we know that these calamities are certainties but today nothing will likely happen. Even if we disagree on the odds, that doesn’t alter the fact that it will happen. We are only really calculating when or how often – the same thing an insurance company does, or we do when we bet on the odds at the race track.
Knowing the inevitable, we must now consider the consequences. It’s rather like calculating how long you can put to your head a revolver with 100 chambers and one bullet and keep pulling the chamber. You know you’ll kill yourself - the only mystery being when. If, however, you don’t put a bullet in the chamber, but marshmallow instead, you don’t care, for you won’t be hurt.
We're not talking marshmallow here.
With oil spills and tankers, we know that the result, whenever it happens, will be hideous, catastrophic. With diluted bitumen (dilbit), there is no such thing as a small accident and you and your government must begin to understand that.
Now, to cleanup. The fact is that there is little that can be done except to the stuff you can see and access and even then very little.
I hope you know about the Enbridge "accident" in Michigan at the Kalamazoo River in July 2010. This spill was described as "not serious" by the government but it hasn’t been cleaned up yet!
Where our pipelines spill, it will not be easy to access for men and machines. Look at the proposed routes. When a spill occurs in the Rockies, the Rocky Mountain Trench, the Coast Range or the Great Bear Rainforest, how the hell are you going to get there? So you are faced with the facts that spills of dilbit are catastrophic and with our proposed pipelines you can’t get to them.
Just what makes you think that David Black’s proposed refinery will make things better?
It will be bringing bitumen from the same tar sands over the same terrain as the proposed Enbridge pipeline. The only possible plus is that instead of dumping dilbit into the ocean it will be refined oil, just like the Exxon Valdez did.
It’s been said that the Kinder Morgan line has been safe. I put this to Rex Weyler, co-founder of Greenpeace and an authority on these matters and here’s what he says:
• There have been a number of incidents related to the Trans Mountain pipeline - including the spill in Burnaby in 2007. Trans Mountain Pipeline (Kinder Morgan) pleaded guilty pleas to a 21-count indictment in B.C. Provincial Court.
• In 2009, oil spilled from Kinder Morgan's oil Westridge terminal in Burnaby.
Few places on Earth have been untouched by humans, according to a study in the journal Science. Satellite images taken from hundreds of kilometres above the planet reveal a world that we have irrevocably changed within a remarkably short time.
Although industrial projects like the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline or the recently defeated mega-quarry in Ontario typically grab the headlines and bring out public opposition, it’s often the combined impacts of a range of human activities on the same land base that threaten to drive nature beyond critical tipping points. Once those are passed, rapid ecological changes such as species extinction can occur.
For example, in British Columbia’s booming Peace Region, forestry, energy and mineral leases and licences are widespread and often multilayered in the same area. As various industries have exploited these “tenures”, a sprawling patchwork of large clearcuts, oil wells, dams and reservoirs, fracking operations and thousands of kilometres of seismic lines, roads and pipelines have come to dominate the landscape.
Today, more than 65 per cent of the region has felt the impact of industrial development, leaving little intact habitat for sensitive, endangered species such as caribou to feed, breed or roam. Degradation or destruction of habitat has convinced scientists that remaining herds in the region are no longer self-sustaining and are spiralling toward local extinction. First Nations, who have relied upon caribou as their primary source of food for thousands of years, can no longer hunt them. This is a clear violation of treaty rights.
This dire situation didn’t happen by accident or because of a laissez-faire approach to resource and land management. Numerous industries in the area have been operating legally and according to rules and regulations set by government.
But legal experts, such as those at the nongovernmental organization West Coast Environmental Law, believe a root cause of the problem lies in laws about land, resource and water management that are “hardwired” to fail communities and the environment. The narrow focus of those laws enables industries to operate in isolation from one another.
B.C., for example, has developed numerous individual laws, like the Forest and Range Practices Act, Oil and Gas Activities Act and Mines Act, alongside the regulated industries they enable. But the province lacks a legal framework to proactively and comprehensively manage the cumulative impacts of multiple resource industries operating within the same area.
Because of this, WCEL and its First Nations partners are engaged in a multi-year law reform project that aims to overhaul the way we currently oversee and regulate cumulative impacts, ranging from declining water quality that may arise as a result of multiple industries using a common resource, to emerging threats such as climate change.
A cumulative-impacts approach to governing resource development would upend the current management paradigm. It would focus on the management needs of the land, water, air, wildlife and indigenous communities that depend on them first, rather than the resources to be extracted. In practical terms, this would mean that, rather than focusing on what we should take from nature to create wealth and employment, we should first consider what must be retained in nature to sustain both wildlife and the well-being of local communities – such as clean air, safe drinking water and healthy local food.
At a recent symposium on managing the cumulative impacts of resource development in B.C., numerous speakers – from First Nations to academics to business leaders – stressed that effectively managing cumulative impacts will require new institutions and governance mechanisms, even new legal tools. More importantly, it will require our leaders to adopt a more proactive and holistic way of thinking about the world – one that recognizes that far from just being a place to extract resources like fossil fuels, timber and minerals, nature is our home. Nature provides our most fundamental needs and dictates limits to growth and so its protection should be our highest priority.
Managing our massive, growing human footprint on this planet more sustainably will require leadership, much of which is emerging from First Nations peoples who are on the frontlines of the day-to-day realities of cumulative environmental change. We need to look at the big picture rather than individual elements in isolation.
Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Ontario and Northern Canada Director-General Faisal Moola.
Gary Mason’s column in the March 12 edition of The Globe and Mail, on Christy Clark, is very interesting. The premier is complaining about the lack of precision in the NDP’s plans and calls upon Adrian Dix to spell it all out.
"So not only are the people going to compare me with Adrian Dix," said Clark, "they will be comparing leadership with an absence of courage to tell people where his party where his party stands on things. If we get into a competition of ideas in this campaign, I believe we can win that battle because I believe the things I stand for are what British Columbians want: a strong economy, smaller government, jobs for our kids, a prosperity fund, lower taxes."
Leaving aside the prosperity fund nonsense for a moment, these words could have been attributed to all premiers I have listened to going back to my own days in the Legislature. Mindless crap, motherhood and apple pie - but predictable.
Clearly, there are a number of things Ms. Clark does not wish to debate, especially the deplorable fiscal situation and scandals galore, with two fresh ones ongoing right now.
Let’s have a look at the promise involving the chimera she calls a “prosperity fund”.
This is simple barnyard droppings wrapped in a pretty package. You will remember that in the Throne Speech this “fund” would come to pass in two years. In an interview with Justine Hunter she admitted that might be up to five years – how long will it be Ms. Clark?
How about “never”.
The plain truth is that it will never happen. Even if LNG plants (the proposed sources of funds) sprang up all over the province, which they won’t, any revenue would be required for general taxation for a province Ms. Clark’s government, and the Campbell one before it, has left broke.
It would be just as accurate for Premier Clark to promise that our economy under a Liberal government - our "prosperity" - depends upon the Easter Bunny.
Let’s turn now to what the premier is not talking about – the environment.
Readers will recall that the environment has never been a major issue in elections. The media types who conduct and participate in the traditional debate never raise this as an issue because their bosses won’t tolerate anything that smacks of being anti-Liberal.
The premier says she opposes Enbridge because it doesn't give BC sufficient revenue to compensate for the environmental 'risk'. Black's alternative involves a pipeline carrying the same product from the same place, along the same route, to the same destination, where it would then be refined before being loaded onto tankers. And yet, Clark somehow seems amenable to the newer proposal.
The only apparent difference is the greater share of provincial revenue and local jobs which Black's proposal offers and the perceived lower risk of shipping refined products vs. diluted bitumen (only for the tankers - the pipeline would be moving the same Tar Sands product).
In essence the Liberal position is we will not approve these pipelines and tanker traffic unless the bribe is sufficient to permit us to overlook the risks.
Here is the crux of the matter. Surely all would agree that in order to meet the money versus pipelines and tankers issue we must assess what that risk is. That’s only common sense.
What, then, Premier Clark, do you assess these risks to be?
Surely there must be a formula. Tell us that it isn’t just flying by the seat of our pants, or pantsuits!
What studies has your government done to assess these risks? Have you looked at the history of pipelines the world over? Have you, more to the point, assessed the risks associated with Enbridge, whose record is appalling? Black, for his part, has zero experience moving oil products - hardly any more reassuring.
But it's more than that, for you surely agree that before making this "risk for dough" assessment you must not only deal with the possibilities of a spill but what damages would flow.
What about, say, a spill in the Rockies, or in the Coast Range, or in the Rocky Mountain Trench or in the Great Bear Rain Forest? Or by tanker. In the case of pipelines, how in hell is a company going to get men and heavy machinery to the site?
I’m sure you’ve seen by now that you must not only assess the risk of harm in various sensitive areas, be they in a fjord, Vancouver Harbour, and in all sensitive areas, which, Premier, means everywhere in the province, but what the cost will be.
But do you? Do you know what the consequences of dilbit accidents are?
Let’s call these spills/accidents for what they really are.
They are not risks but catastrophes waiting to happen. It’s not "if", Premier Clark, but "when".
What you are saying to the people of BC is that you are prepared to take a certain sum of money for inevitable “accidents”, wherever they happen and whatever damage they do.
At least be honest on this score so that the voting public has a clear understanding that for money you will abandon our heritage.
There are two other issues that I will go into in depth with as the days pass.
Your government is continuing to grant fish farm licenses in spite of Commissioner Bruce Cohen’s report. Indeed, your government is the landlord for all BC's fish farms (signing off on the tenures they require to site and operate their farms), yet you have done no policing and the only fines ever imposed came from an NDP administration and the Campbell government gave them their fines back.
The only way these farms can make a profit is by sending their sewage (fish excrement, unconsumed food, anti-lice compounds, unconsumed medicines, drugs and colourants) into the oceans as raw sewage.
Quite apart from the appalling impact these hideous farms have had on wild salmon runs, the above should have you forcing these farms on land, as a recent federal government report recommended.
Will you do this - and if not, why not?
The weasel words, “run of river” projects, have decimated our rivers and, as with fish farms, no inspection of them takes place even though there have been 1000s of broken rules. BC Hydro, the jewel of our crown would be bankrupt if it were in the private sector because of the sweetheart deals your government has forced them to pay to private companies.
This is just one of the scandalous policies that have beset your government. What are you going to do about this issue?
Is this really a process to provide energy to gas prospectors who can use that energy to “frack” for natural gas to make energy? And to power the liquefaction of natural gas (LNG), for which, in all likelihood, there will be no customers?
(By the way, Ms. Clark, have you even the faintest idea what the fracking process is all about, and the undetermined environmental impacts?)
Yes, Mr. Dix must come clean with his program and I intend to ask him questions like these. But you are the premier. You must deal with these issues and do so in specific terms, not barfed up stale marshmallows.
I assure you that you will hear about these issues again, for many British Columbians, including me, believe our environment and the fauna and flora it creates and protects is worth more than simply a token amount that they consider, and write off, as a cost of doing business no matter how much that may be.
Read this story from CTV.ca on newly obtained documents which reveal that the slashing of the Navigable Waters Protection Act in Stephen Harper's most recent omnibus budget bill was driven by the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. (Feb. 20, 2013)
OTTAWA -- When the Harper government included a radical overhaul of the Navigable Waters Protection Act in the last omnibus bill, outsiders scratched their heads and wondered out loud where that idea had come from.
Documents obtained through the Access to Information Act show it came, in part, from the pipeline industry.
The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association met with senior government officials in the fall of 2011, urging them not just to streamline environmental assessments, but also to bring in "new regulations under (the) Navigable Waters Protection Act," a CEPA slide presentation shows.
A copy of the Oct. 27 presentation made to then-deputy minister of trade Louis Levesque was obtained by Greenpeace Canada and shared with The Canadian Press.
At the time, the federal government was preparing for a major overhaul of environmental oversight as part of its plan to launch its "Responsible Resource Development" initiative in the 2012 budget.
With so many of the pipeline-related rules in flux, the CETA board of directors decided to hold its fall strategy meeting in Ottawa, and meet with Levesque at the same time.
They had a concise but aggressive wish list, the slides show:
Regulatory reform so that each project goes through just one environmental review;
Bolster the Major Projects Management Office (tasked with steering resource projects efficiently through the bureaucracy);
Speed up permitting for small projects;
Make government expectations known early in the permitting process;
Support an "8-1-1" phone line to encourage construction companies to "call before you dig";
Modify the National Energy Board Act so it can impose administrative penalties, in order to prevent pipeline damage;
New regulations under the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
The main message was to tell federal decision-makers that if they were serious about "one project, one review," they should look at the entire array of reviews that resource development faces, CEPA president Brenda Kenny explained Wednesday in an interview.
Their plea was for Ottawa to clean up a messy system, strengthen their oversight if need be, but also fix archaic legislation like the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which subjected pipelines to another layer of scrutiny even though pipelines are almost always drilled underneath waterways and don't impact the water.
"If you're serious about sustainable development, it's very helpful to have a clear environmental assessment that is going to address any and all environmental impacts very well, and to then have that inform thoroughly the triple-bottom-line decisions that rely on that input," said Kenny.
In the end, they got almost everything they wanted except the 8-1-1 hotline. Federal regulators ruled that idea out, mainly because the number is already being used by telephone-health services in many provinces.
The first budget omnibus bill in June contained a replacement for the Environmental Assessment Act and also a provision to remove pipelines and power lines from provisions of the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Predictably, reaction from environmentalists was negative, while business and the natural resource sector reacted positively to the changes.
But then the government surprised many close observers by going even further in a second omnibus bill, C-45. The Navigable Waters Protection Act was changed to the Navigation Protection Act, significantly reducing its scope over Canada's waters.
Transport Minister Denis Lebel has argued that the changes were in response to demands from municipalities, who found that the act was tying them up in red tape as they tried to build bridges and culverts, said spokesman Mike Winterburn.
But over the decades, the act -- originally written in 1882 -- had morphed into a central pillar of environmental legislation. Critics say the major changes in C-45 were never discussed in that context.
"I never really knew where this call for change came from," said NDP environment critic Megan Leslie.
At the time, the House of Commons environment committee was reviewing the Environmental Assessment Act, and the need for changes did not come up despite vibrant discussions about how to streamline approvals for resource development, she said.
"It was never in any documents, it was never an addendum to testimony or anything like that. And in some private meetings I've had with some industry reps, they too have expressed to me that they don't know why the Navigable Waters Act changes were made."
While Leslie said it's perfectly acceptable for industry groups to present the government with lists of policy recommendations, "what's not normal is that those changes are accepted holus-bolus, without any consultation."
The changes prompted another outcry late last year from environmentalists, who were then joined by First Nations across the country who took to the streets in protest.
Read this story fromThe Province on Enbridge's decision to drop its name from the annual Ride to Conquer Cancer in BC, following controversy over its sponsorship. (Feb 14, 2013)
The Enbridge logo is a no-go for the 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer.
Enbridge, which has received very mixed reviews in B.C. for its proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline, remains the national title sponsor, but has decided to remove its name from the B.C. ride.
The version of the fundraising ride in oil-rich Alberta remains the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, while in eco-friendly B.C. the firm’s name has been dropped despite its continued sponsorship.
“It’s a subtle change unless you’re looking for it,” said Doug Nelson, president of the B.C. Cancer Foundation, which uses the money raised by the ride on cancer patient care and research.
“To their credit, Enbridge came forward and said they didn’t want the focus taken away from the riders and the people they are riding for.”
Reports of riders boycotting the event or running into trouble with fundraising surfaced as British Columbians grapple with the proposed oil pipeline, which has run into widespread opposition in B.C.
Nelson said he didn’t personally know of any riders who had dropped out because of the Enbridge sponsorship.
“I’ve read media reports that that was happening, but I don’t know about it myself,” said Nelson. “Last year we grew by 183 riders to 3,011, and fundraising grew by $100,000 to $11.2 million.”
With B.C. headed into a provincial election — Premier Christy Clark has put five B.C. conditions on approval of the pipeline, while B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix opposes the pipeline — Nelson said the timing was poor for an Enbridge-sponsored ride.
“We didn’t want this to be an election issue,” said Nelson. “There is no political issue for us other than we support funding for cancer research.”
Enbridge spokesman Todd Nogier said his company’s goal is cancer fundraising, and when it appeared that might be hurt, the company dropped its name “by mutual agreement.