Pipeline has no benefits, only risks, Skidegate meeting hears

  • Jun. 10, 2011 8:00 a.m.

While the Canucks were losing their second game of the Stanley Cup series on Wednesday, twenty-five residents of Skidegate and Queen Charlotte had oil, not hockey on their minds. They attended a meeting billed as ‘Making waves for an oil free coast’, held June 8 at the Heritage Centre in Skidegate. The meeting was set up by MLA Gary Coons and Jennifer Rice of the Friends of Wild Salmon group, and followed a similar one in Masset the night before, attended by about 30 people.”How can we work together to ensure that Enbridge, tankers and big oil do not come through our waters?”, Mr. Coons asked, before turning the meeting over to Ms Rice. She told the audience that she was there to build alliances in the fight for an oil free coast, and that she is very hopeful. “I am actually really hopeful. I am so hopeful. People in Masset yesterday thought I was crazy, and I am not,” she said. Enbridge wants to build the pipeline to carry tar sands crude to Kitimat for shipment to China, and Ms Rice said she wants to help the fight here on Haida Gwaii by offering updates and involving islanders’ participation in the process, while trying to give a message of hope and inspiration. “What can I do?” she asked, then provided several answers. She suggested islanders form a community group on the issue, while keeping themselves informed. She also suggested signing up for Google alerts on ‘Enbridge Northern Gateway’, and since she works for Friends of Wild Salmon, Ms. Rice thought signing up for its newsletter was a good idea. “Use First Nations’ law, take your message to Victoria, Ottawa, Calgary, write letters to the editor of local, regional and national publications, as well as the financial media, and target banks which loan money to Enbridge and the project,” she said. Ms Rice also suggested pressuring the BC government to not support the project and advocating for a legislated tanker ban in west coast waters. Regarding a hearing of the federal and provincial governments’ Joint Review Panel, Ms Rice said “Haida Gwaii needs to shout loud and clear that you are paying attention and want a hearing here. For Haida Gwaii, there are no benefits, there are only risks.” One of the reasons Ms Rice is hopeful of stopping the project is that virtually every First Nation in BC opposes it. MLA Gary Coons agreed with that assessment and called the approval process ‘flawed’, saying the three members of the Joint Review Panel “don’t have a clue”. He suggested that up to a thousand islanders apply for oral standing before the panel. “If you stick to the Haida declaration, (as) Guujaaw said ‘over my dead body’, you don’t have to say much,” Mr. Coons said. “You still have to go as part of the process. It’s a huge fight. It’s winnable but it will be a long fight. With a tanker moratorium there will be no pipeline,” Mr. Coons said.Also last week, there was a meeting in Tlell for all islanders interested in an oil free coast (separate story this newspaper) and a meeting in Queen Charlotte Tuesday with staff from the Joint Review Panel (more next week).

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