Mixed reaction to Harper Government’s approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980

First Nations Reaction

When speaking with CKNW’s Simi Sara Art Sterrit with the Coastal First Nations says this is a sad day for future generations of British Columbians.

 ”How do we protect our land? How do we protect our water and our air from a project that we all know is so toxic that it’d literally wipe out everything that we stand for?”

Labour Reaction

Jerry Dias, the president of Unifor, expects massive demonstrations against the pipeline.

“We oppose any pipeline that doesn’t end up in a Canadian refinery. I mean, once again, we’re just exporting jobs. So this is going to be a huge problem.”

But the  BC Chamber of Commerce says the Northern Gateway project is a major economic win for the province and for Canada.  President John Winter says he applauds the federal government for making the right decision for our province and our country.
“Well I think it’s a project that’s good for all Canadians so I’m not surprised the Prime Minister has approved it. Certainly Canada and BC have an abundance of natural resources and it’s really our obligation to ensure that we make the most of them to keep our standard of living where we seem to enjoy having it.”
Winter says the project will create jobs, boost GDP and generate tax revenue for BC, while enabling Canadian oil producers critical access to Asian markets.

Environmental Groups React

The approval comes as no surprise to environmental groups who say the fight is far from over.
The group Forest Ethics says Prime Minister Harper will likely regret trying to push what they call a “politically toxic project” on BC in the lead up to a close election.
The Advocacy group plans to ramp up its organizing work in key areas to make sure the Enbridge decision is a 2015 election issue that stalks Harper.
They have also organized a campaign asking Premier Clark to act on her rejection of Northern Gateway which includes an online petition (http://standstrongchristy.ca/) encouraging Clark to stop the project from going forward. 
 Kai Nagata with the Dogwood Initiative, a group planning to organize a province-wide referendum,  says there’s now more pressure on Premier Christy Clark to keep the pipeline from becoming a reality.  He says more than six thousand volunteers have already signed up to gather signatures. 
“We have more than 156,000 voters in support already without even getting out of the gate. It’s up to Premier Christy Clark whether she wants to bring that down and as long as she with-holds those permits, there’s no reason for us to launch a citizen’s initiative, but if she flip-flops and she starts issuing permits, we’ll have to consider next steps.”

Northern Communities

The former mayor of Prince George is one of the biggest supporters of the pipeline.  Colin Kinsley, who now chairs the Northern Gateway Alliance, told CKNW’s Simi Sara he’d like to see construction start within a year.

 ”It’s that important for our economy, both regionally, provincially and nationally.”

Meanwhile, the Joanne Monaghan mayor of Kitimat, one of the communities most impacted by this project, says she’s pleased a decision has finally been made, but that ” it’s due diligence for the district of Kitimat and the councillors make sure that those commitments for the 209 conditions and the five for the province, that they’re being met.”

In April, residents of Kitimat recently voted against approving the pipeline, but their wishes were not binding.  

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