“No fucking Pipeline!” That was the message sent by protestors and activists who gathered in Victoria on Monday, Oct. 22 from all over the Province to tell Premier Christy Clark. However, Clark was nowhere to be found. After denouncing Vancouver Islanders as part of a “sick culture,” Clark fled the Island to go pedal dirty Alberta tar sands bitumen elsewhere.
Official reports from CBC put the number gathered on Monday at 3000 people but unofficial sources claim that it was closer to 5000. People came from all over the Province and from all backgrounds and broke down the cliche of “just a bunch of hippies.” With a cross-section of civil society including First Nations, people in the fishing industry, and other blue collar workers toting Stanfields, as well as opposition politicians looking for votes, the message was clear.
When asked in an interview Natural Resources Minister Joe Oolican denounced anyone who opposed the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and Keystone Excel Pipeline Projects as either a terrorist or radical. These accusations prove the blatant disregard by the federal government of the ongoing public consultation and environmental regulatory processes. The very least that the Harper Government could do would be to carry out the tokenistic exercise of consulting the public before giving the go-ahead to the two projects. This project is yet another facet of the blindly pro-developmet stance of the Harper regime.
The threat of oil spills are a clear and present danger to everyone on the coast especially fishery and subsistence dependant coastal communities. One need only look to the BP spill on the U.S. gulf coast in 2010 to see an example of a crime against the environment perpetrated by large petroleum corporations. The response of BP and other oil companies outlines how little policy makers and CEOs care about the health of tourism and fisheries in vulnerable coastal communities compared to their bottom lines.
An oil spill on our coast would destroy the economy and ecology of B.C. It would also threaten the livelihood and cultural integrity of countless subsistence dependant First Nations communities such as the Gitga’at and Kwakwaka’wakw nations of the central coast. Their way of life is taken for granted by many and economic development is being put ahead of all other considerations.
Oil spills are forever, this is pretty clear to anyone who has paid any attention to the issue. One only need look at Southern Alaska to see the consequences of the Exxon Valdez 20 years ago. To see the lasting environmental damage that still effects fish and wildlife, simply dig down a few inches in the beach sand to see the sad reality of prolonged oil residue. In south-eastern Alaska shell fish still contain unsafe levels of oil-related toxins, which make the locally harvested seafood unsafe to eat. How can cultural tradition endure when the essential food source for sustenance and tradition is contaminated with poison?
Back in 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico, the Deep Water Horizon spill had the same catastrophic effects for both the fishermen and the citizens of the Gulf region. It destroyed the fishery on the Gulf Coast along with the vibrant and diverse ecosystem. This begs the question: can an educated and socially aware citizenry allow that same kind of environmental travesty to happen here?
So, special thanks should be given to Premier Christy Clark, and the “honourable” Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for their role in bringing students, First Nations, labour leaders, and activists all together under one banner to fight for one common goal. In spite of their menace to society and the environment, as well as offending traditional ways of living—they deserve recognition. In a dark and sinister proceeding such a protest, there must be a lighthearted tone so that the entire movement does not descend into darkness.