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Nathan Lemphers is a senior policy analyst with the Pembina Institute, a national nonpartisan sustainable energy think-tank. This op-ed originally appeared on The Mark.
Apparently, Canada is open for business, but closed to criticism, no matter how constructive. This is the clearest conclusion that can be drawn from Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s open letter to Canadians (“Radicals threaten resource development,” National Post, Jan. 10), in which he attacks advocates of responsible oilsands development as “radicals,” and dismisses the concerns of thousands of Canadians who want to have a say in the decision of whether to build Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
The $6.6-billion project would run two parallel pipelines carrying diluted bitumen and condensate along a 1,177kilometre route linking the oilsands in Alberta with the remote port of Kitimat on the northern B.C. coast. The pipelines would traverse hundreds of salmon-bearing rivers and streams, mountainous and landslide-prone terrain, the Great Bear Rainforest and the territory of more than 50 First Nations.
The joint review panel public hearings that have just begun aim to determine whether the project is in the interest of Canadians. But recent statements from the Harper government indicate it is not interested in listening to the concerns of more than 4,000 Canadians who have signed up to speak at the hearings. Forget the democratic process and ignore the obligations of due diligence and harm prevention inherent in Canada’s environmental review process – as Oliver states, “For our government, the choice is clear.”
In fact, the minister’s letter makes one wonder if he spends any time at all listening to those Canadians who care about environmental protection and responsible resource development. Dismissing opponents of this project as “ideological” and opposed to all major projects, Oliver ironically ignores the ideological underpinnings of the Harper government’s consistent ef-forts to pit economic growth against environmental protection.
For the rest of this column, please go to the National Post website: http://www.nationalpost.com/related/topics/Fair+play+pipeline+politics/5989298/story.html