Tag Archives: Pipelines

A Not-So-Public Hearing

Yesterday I gave my testimony to the Joint Review Panel for the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project.

Protesters in Vancouver January 2013
Protesters in Vancouver January 2013

Some might argue it was an exercise in futility because ultimately Bill C-38 gives decision-making power for these projects to Cabinet. Perhaps. Yet yesterday on the fourth floor of the Wall Centre hotel person after person put on record their opposition to the project. Their stories were powerful despite the fact that the public is physically shut out of these hearings, distanced by some 15 blocks (a public viewing area was set up at the Westin Bayshore). The separation of presenters from a supportive public actually seemed oddly appropriate to me given that this review process has been all about separating things from context: the pipeline from the marine effects, from climate change, from discussion of our addiction to oil. Why not separate people as well? Fear not though, Enbridge representatives didn’t have to listen to the webcast or watch with the public: they had a prime viewing table right in the room beside the review panel.

Everyone in my section of 35 yesterday afternoon signed up in 2011 to speak. The group was made up of a diverse collection of fishermen, engineers, students, retired biologists, artists and software programmers. All opposed the project as did the 253 in Victoria the previous week.

It was a moving experience. As one young man put it yesterday: “we will stop this pipeline, whether you’re with us or not…but we’d like you with us”. His mic was cut soon thereafter for pointing out that people would put their bodies on the line to stop it.

Another speaker started with a joke: “Why did the ship’s captain pull the oil tanker over?…..To take a leak.” Continue reading A Not-So-Public Hearing