BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix has tools available to him to stop the Enbridge pipeline (CP photo)

Dix Can Reclaim Control Over Fish, Pipelines and Tankers from Harper


Dear Adrian Dix,
You and your party have taken a strong stand against the Enbridge Pipeline and tanker issues, for which I applaud you. I think you should broaden this policy, but first some background.
Stephen Hume has a fascinating article in the Saturday July 14 Vancouver Sun in which he quotes a man from Kitimat who, with the assistance of a man with mathematical training, vetted by a Mathematics professor at Thompson Rivers University, assessed the risk of spills, ruptures, etc. from the Enbridge Pipeline and tankers out of Kitimat, using Enbridge’s own figures. The results are scary, to say the least. By all means, read the article, but the bottom line is that over 50 years there is an 87% chance of a major spill on land or sea.
Here, Mr. Dix, are two other major factors – we know that getting any sort of cleanup on land is virtually non-existent due to the terrain and all but impossible at sea, AND, as Kalamazoo teaches us, there’s very little that can be done to clean up these spills. Very quickly after a spill on water, the bitumen is freed from the condensate which permits it to be piped, and it sinks like a rock.
There is one other new factor the BC government must face – almost nil protection of fish and their habitat by The Department of Fisheries and Oceans thanks to Bill C-38.
We have a jurisdictional clash here, for under The Constitution Act, federal power over fisheries is paramount but the Provinces have control over “Property and Civil Rights”.
Now we get into sticky ground here, but there’s no question in my mind that the Province can and should legislate so as to protect all wildlife, which is its clear right. Hunting laws are provincial as are fishing laws over those which do not go to sea. The dangerous ground is that if the “pith and substance” of your laws was to deal in fisheries over which Ottawa has jurisdiction it might be struck down by the courts.
There is absolutely no need to be concerned about that if you proceed properly.
Dealing with the pipeline, there is an unquestionable provincial right to protect all fauna and flora. Properly done, this would not be a ruse or look like a ruse to trample on the Federal jurisdiction over fisheries but a legitimate effort to protect our trees and our wildlife. Moreover, how could the feds be heard to complain that the matters under their jurisdiction are being protected?
The same argument applies to the coast, where birds and bears depend upon a pristine climate within which to live and eat.
Now, what I suggest Mr Dix, is that your legal beagles go to work and prepare draft legislation which could be tabled as a private member’s bill at the next sitting of the legislature – assuming there is one – and made public in the meantime. From a strictly political point of view, I can think of nothing more useful than having the Feds challenge the constitutionality of your position.
You should go one step further – return to the local governments their power to permit development in their bailiwicks as they had before the Campbell/Clark government took it away. They did that for the Ashlu private power plant. We know from the result of that project that the fish died in ponds because too much water was sucked out of the river. The Ashlu River would still be free of impediments to fish had the Squamish-Lilloett Regional District’s jurisdiction been honoured.
You have spoken loud and clear Mr, Dix – it’s time to put it in writing.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

4 thoughts on “Dix Can Reclaim Control Over Fish, Pipelines and Tankers from Harper

  1. Just a thought……could the Northern Gateway Project simply be a huge red herring to distract us from the real threat of the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline? There has been little opposition (not to mention press coverage) there.

    Everyone knows how utterly treacherous the waters from Kitimat harbour out to Hecate Straits and beyond are. Georgia Strait seems to be more like a mill pond in comparison, but both are fraught with perils if a tanker spill should occur, and occur it will.

  2. Many thanks Rafe and Damien for keeping up the attack on Harper’s disastrous pipeline agenda, and continuing challenges to Adrian Dix and Christy Clark to clarify their position on these projects.
    I know there is a need for a lot of focus on the Enbridge project currently, however I’m concerned that we are not hearing much about the Kinder Morgan proposal of twinning pipelines to bring bitumen from tar sands to Vancouver for export to Asian markets. I’m not aware of Adrian Dix stating a position on this proposal, and hope that we don’t see a trade off develop where we manage to stop Enbridge but Kinder Morgan is allowed to proceed, because it’s already part way there.
    Both these projects are bad news for BC and must be stopped.
    Thanks again for your amazing job in keeping us informed and engaged. Best to you both. mg

  3. So can Christy do the same. However she won’t, she and her BC Liberals work for Harper, as Campbell did. Harper and Campbell signed a secret deal, behind our backs. Harper can force the Enbridge pipeline and the dirty oil tankers, onto BC. So Christy’s silly posturing over the pipeline bursts, in Alberta and the Kalamazoo River, means squat. She damned well supports Harper and his pipeline.

    The NDP are going to have a horrific time, putting this province right again. The Campbell/Clark BC liberals, have thieved and sold everything of value in BC.

    BC Ferries outrageous salary’s, the obscene cost of running them. The BCR thieved and sold. Our rivers thieved and sold., and yes, thousands of fish die. Our BC hydro, also destroyed by Campbell’s greed. Our mills were shipped to China, along with our raw logs. BC mills will have to lay off workers again. There is a shortage of timber. BC mines are owned by China, their own people will work those jobs too, as they do in the tar sands. Fracking for gas, the huge asinine amount of water that takes. Filthy diseased fish farms, killing our wild Salmon. The HST continues to be a scam.

    A huge job for the NDP, to clean up.

  4. BC Politicians pay attention

    The people are watching you closely on how you react to this god forsaken disaster in the making.

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