Public Can't Rely on Government Processes to Stop Tankers and Pipelines
the last article I discounted the possibility that any hearing into the
Enbridge pipelines or tanker traffic, to and out of Kitimat and
Vancouver would dare stop these projects. I considered and rejected,
without saying so, any intervention by the federal procedures,
specifically the National Energy Board's Federal Panel Review which held
against the Taseko proposal at Fish Lake.
I don’t believe for one
moment that this Panel would put an end to the pipelines permanently but
at most would attach conditions.
Since there are no environmental
conditions that would prevent horrendous and permanent damage to our
environment, the NEB, will, at most, be a slowing down process.
This is the third part of a three part series from Rafe Mair on civil dissent.
that the pipelines and tankers are supported by both the federal and
provincial governments I don’t believe that any review panel would have
the jam to reject the projects outright (nor can it, in fact - it only
has the power to make recommendations to the Minister of Environment,
who has the final say) but most surely would use the weasel word
“mitigation”, where no mitigation is possible or acceptable.
far better bet is that the Federal cabinet will, as it did with the
original Kemano II project, waive the requirement for such a hearing or
Consider the Harper government’s position – to reject
the pipelines and tankers would be to reject the Tar Sands, especially
if the US Keystone XL pipeline is rejected by President Obama. Even if
it is passed by Obama, the heat from China, the projects themselves,
plus the pressure of the business community that finances the Tory
government will be too strong for Harper & Co. to resist. In fact
the approval of environmental destruction comes naturally to right wing
governments so that, in my view, the issue moot. When it comes to
fighting these projects, the public of BC will be on its own.
about majority rules? Isn’t that the end of the matter? Both senior
governments have mandates so they can do as they please?
simply is not so. Neither government has faced this as an issue and
there have been no referenda. There will not, in my opinion, be any
meaningful forum for popular opinion. But the critical question is this:
the proposals will do permanent and egregious harm - what government
ever has the moral or even legal right to make such a decision without
direct citizen approval?
Friends – we must face the fact that neither government will stand in the way of these projects.
must be careful with my next point. First Nations have, thus far, made
it clear to Enbridge that they will not accept the projects. They have
recently refused a bribe of 10% of the action. Careful though I must be,
it must be recorded that some First Nations have accepted financial
inducements to permit fish farms, although most First Nation have
opposed; more tellingly, perhaps, some have been induced to supported
Independent Power Producers (IPPs) ravishing their rivers. Indeed, in
the Klina Klini project, First Nations have sued the provincial
government for nixing the project.
One must ask, then, is First Nations rejection of the Pipelines an outright refusal or just part of a negotiation process?
must prepare for the worst. We must assume that the projects will be
approved and, govern our actions accordingly. Clearly, then, we must be
ready for civil disobedience.
This, in my view, means three things:
must be an obvious flouting of the public will. In the absence of a
public referendum on the matter, the flouting of public will becomes
- We must understand that civil disobedience carries with
it penalties. Even though these penalties will involve the governments
and corporations subverting justice by proceeding criminally in a civil
matter, we must realize that this is a penalty we will pay and be
prepared to pay it.
- The Civil Disobedience must be on a large
scale. We must have leadership and we must provide that leadership with
our support and enough money to stand behind those who are fined, go to
jail, or both. People’s savings will be attacked and their families will
suffer. We can expect no mercy from companies or our very own
The notion of lawbreaking does not come easily
to me, a lawyer. The fact remains that the great United States Supreme
Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was right when he said that the
courts decide the law, not justice.
The cause of preserving our
province is too important for us to meekly accept a judge’s finding that
prevention of that cause is to be supported by jail sentences. As
Justice Holmes so tartly observed, law and justice are not synonymous.
Our question is simple to state: Is it justice when any tribunal, parliament, legislature or court
destroys our environment, not as a vital need of society but for private