The federal NDP opposition continues to fight the use of tankers on, and pipelines to, the BC coast despite the recent imposition of a 425 page budget bill that will emasculate many environmental protections.
At a June 23 interview at Mad Rona’s, MP Jean Crowder, who was on the island to open a new exhibit at the museum, said the NDP has two initiatives underway with respect to the movement of tarsands on the coast. The first, she said, was an NDP motion on tankers they are launching as a Bill in the House.
Secondly, she said that Environment Critic Meagan Leslie would also be in Vancouver on June 25 to meet with environmental groups. She said Leslie would then go to Kitimat where hearings are underway on a pipeline proposed by Enbridge to move tarsands from Alberta, through the Rocky Mountains to the harbour in Kitimat.
“We’re hoping to raise the profile about this process continuing”, Crowder said, “and clearly making the links to the tankers. You can’t bring oil out to the coast, and not think about what’s going to happen when it gets there”. Crowder said Leslie would also be meeting with First Nations groups in Kitimat “because we’ll be working closely with First Nations groups because a number of them are very opposed to the pipeline”.
Crowder said they don’t know what’s going to happen with the hearings because of new environmental review timeframes imposed under the budget implementation bill recently passed. She said they are not clear how quickly things will move forward, but they have already made a commitment to stand with First Nations on this issue.
Asked about a call from former BC Environment Minister Rafe Mair for peaceful civil disobedience to resist the pipeline, Crowder said she has been told that First Nations will be applying for a court injunction against the pipeline. “I just think it’s so weird that the Conservatives keep talking about economic certainty and what they’ve done with the budget implementation bill has guaranteed uncertainty”, she said. “There’s going to be court injunctions, there’s going to be civil disobedience, there’s going to be court cases about rights and title, and so what they’ve done is they’ve destabilised any of the process moving forward”.
As previously reported, many Gabriolans have also vowed to fight both the pipeline and any increased tanker traffic off the coast of BC.
The NDP is going to wait and see what happens, Crowder said, and will work with First Nations once they have made their decisions about how they will proceed.
Asked how the NDP, if elected to government, might deal with the many changes the Conservatives have made, and the concentration of powers in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Crowder thought a couple of things might make a difference. “We need a commitment to proportional representation so you never have this kind of false majority again”, she said. “We need a commitment from New Democrats and a number of us are there”.
“The second piece is, you need a commitment to putting in safeguards to prevent the concentration of power in the Privy Council Office (the bureaucrats who carry out governmental administration) and the PMO. We can never assume that this won’t happen again, so we need to put those safeguards in place. We need to pass legislation, we need to change the process, we need to change how we elect people”.
These things need to be prioritised, Crowder said, “because you can tinker with everything else, but the next time there is this kind of government in place, you end up with the same thing”.
Crowder said the party will take the summer to figure out where they will go now. She said they have a caucus strategic session in September and she would have a better sense of how they will proceed after that.
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