Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Northern Gateway: What still stands in the way?

June 24, 2014

The federal cabinet’s approval of the Enbridge Northern Gateway project was the oddest event—or non-event—in the Harper Government’s tenure. The low-key announcement itself was odd for a government that has touted the project from the get-go. Instead of spouting worn rhetoric and inflated benefits claims, the only numbers cited in the June 17 release related to the ‘exhaustive’ review and the 209 conditions the Joint Review Panel placed on the project.

Then, after the release was sent out, every last Conservative MP went to ground, perhaps hoping they could escape being tagged with responsibility for the decision. A lone staffer was left to protest that it wasn’t an approval at all, just a ‘maybe’, because the 209 conditions had yet to be met.

What really stands in the way of the pipeline?

  • Several lawsuits protesting the federal government’s failure/refusal to consult with affected B.C. First Nations.
  • Several other lawsuits, including one brought by Living Oceans, protesting the Joint Review Panel’s cursory treatment of species at risk and earthquake hazards.
  • The Province of B.C.’s five conditions. Premier Christy Clark responded unequivocally to the federal approval, saying her conditions have not been met.  
  • Over 25,000 people who have pledged to “Hold the Wall” in support of First Nations.
  • The market: Not a single glob of bitumen has been consigned to this pipeline; costs are spiraling and investors must be wondering if this project is worth the risk.
  • The 209 conditions imposed by the Joint Review Panel.
  • The 2015 federal election.

Any one of those obstacles could stop Northern Gateway. Only the last one also holds out hope for restoring Canada’s democracy, environmental law, international reputation, science and reason. That hope rests on Canadians actually turning out to vote and voting strategically, to ensure a majority government elected by a majority of the people.