Canadian Tories Declare War on Environment

B. McPherson

                                                       Tell me that an oil spill here could ever be cleaned up.

The federal Tories have declared war on the Canadian environment. In their rush to cash in on the appetite for oil, uranium and potash from emerging nations, the Tories have slashed the environmental review process turning over most of the responsibilities to the provinces.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has tried to characterize the moves as a ‘streamlining’ and ‘cutting of red tape’, but for most people concerned about the environment it smacks as a bow to Big Oil and Big Business.

In the face of mounting opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project the Conservative government led by Stephen Harper has changed the law to apply retroactively in order to snuff out the chances of people who wish to speak about the project. The review process which is supposed to be neutral has been changed in the politicians’ jargon to “approval process”.

There are two main issues that opponents of the Enbridge project speak about – the route through the Great Bear Rainforest, a pristine wilderness and the likelihood of oil spills from hundreds of tankers plying the treacherous BC coastline. Many of the supertankers fly flags of convenience and will not carry much responsibility in the event of a catastrophic accident.

Other issues of concern are the disruption to the way of life for many of the residents along the proposed route. First Nations people across whose territory the proposed route snakes, have presented a united front in opposing the pipeline.

In an interview on the CBC, David Suzuki pointed out that these issues are trans-boundary issues. When asked if only those directly involved with an issue should be allowed to speak to it, he said that everybody breathes air and drinks water so everyone is affected. Whether it is a re-opening of the Taseko mine controversy or a uranium mine people are affected by the decisions.

The podium from which Joe Oliver spoke had the words “Jobs, Growth, Prosperity” on it. It is basic to our well being and that of our children and their children that we remember that uncontrolled growth is the mantra of the cancer cell.

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