Northern Gateway: Just the beginning

Much has been made of all that the Enbridge Joint Review Panel is not doing here in The Capital and throughout its provincial tour.

Much has been made of all that the Enbridge Joint Review Panel is not doing here in The Capital and throughout its provincial tour. At home, the overwhelming and deeply terrifying prospect of being mildly inconvenienced by people expressing themselves has kept the general public far removed from the week of hearings at the Delta Pointe Hotel. Refusal to allow speakers to use visual aids or, in at least one case, to even mention civil disobedience has been met with cries of misrepresentation and misdeed, and much fist-shaking followed NDP MP Murray Rankin being turned away at the panel’s doorstep.

A few things are also not happening beyond the City of Gardens. Disobedience will not be tolerated in Vancouver where the public is also barred from attending hearings, and in Bella Bella hearings were shortened after people dared to sing and dance near the panel judges. Much has been made of the spectacle and of the fear, and cries of “No Enbridge, No Pipeline” echoed throughout The Capital last week. We’ve had glimpses of statements from more than 4,000 registered speakers, well over 200 in Victoria, all of whom have opposed the pipeline. We’ve heard about the threat of tar sands expansion, spills along the pipeline route, indigenous land rights being ignored, tankers hemorrhaging oil into pristine coastal waters, biblical devastation. We know deeply the gleeful ineptitude of Enbridge staff and executives who remain unapologetic after 804 spills in 11 years.

Much has been made of Enbridge, but we’ve heard little more of the sentiment expressed by Andrew Andy, elected chief of the Nuxalk Nation, whose band withdrew from the process after lamenting that the decision to approve the project had already been made by the federal government. While it may seem unthinkable that the Joint Review Panel could hear 4,000 unanimous voices of resistance and still come out in favour of the wanton destruction of our home, this remains a very real possibility. That our politics allow reality to be wilfully ignored speaks volumes.

Much has been made of one symptom while the disease is left to flourish. Affirmations of our collective desire to live and let live and protect what wilderness remains from endless plunder are losing themselves in the fevered mantra of “No Pipeline, No Enbridge.” M

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