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Pipeline politics undermine democracy

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For the last two years, I have been intensely following the review process and wave of opposition to Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would extend from Alberta to Kitimat.
Unfortunately, I have also seen what appears to be an erosion of democracy in Canada. During this time, we have seen the federal government gut environmental laws through omnibus bills and streamline the review process for future major resource projects all in what would appear to be an attempt to roll out these projects regardless of the risks and objections.
Our supposed leaders are risking turning Canada into a petro-state that values short-term economic gain from fossil fuels over long-term environmental and economic sustainability.
On Dec. 19, the review process for Northern Gateway wrapped up with the panel releasing its decision. It recommended approval despite massive opposition. However, if Enbridge wishes to proceed, it must meet 209 conditions set out by the review panel, for the federal government's consideration.
What I find disturbing is that according to the David Suzuki Foundation, 1,161 people voiced their opinion on the pipeline, with 1,159 against and two in favour. If the panel valued the opinion of the two over the 1,159 opposed, could someone explain to me how this process could possibly be considered to be fair and objective?
The panel said it focused on science in its decision. Did it look at legitimate science regarding the impacts of bitumen spills on First Nations communities, wildlife and the general environment, or was it science geared to be more pipeline friendly? Were these hearings truly impartial?
I'm not saying we shouldn't have any pipelines anywhere, provided the proper safety measures are in place. However, the proposed Northern Gateway and related tanker traffic puts at risk a highly sensitive ecological region - B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest.
This temperate rainforest is home to First Nations steadfast in their opposition to Enbridge, as well as spectacular wildlife, including the rare white Kermode or Spirit Bear, which happens to be B.C.'s official mammal.
Enbridge's track record doesn't inspire me with confidence. It has had more than 800 spills since 1999.
In 2010, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured into Michigan's Kalamazoo River, causing the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. Over three years later, Enbridge has yet to properly deal with the mess.
Premier Christy Clark says she has five conditions that must be met to support the project. Given Enbridge's history and the massive opposition, why doesn't she just say, plain and simply: no, under any circumstances? The risks are too high.
It's time that we in Canada stop letting pipeline politics undermine our democracy, as well as threaten our environment and our own well-being, now and into the future.
James MacGregor,
Kelowna

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