A clean-up worker at Enbridge's spill into the Kalamazoo River in 2010

No Time for Relief as Regulators, Media Dismiss Enbridge’s Pipedreams


No one likes to hear those four words, “I told you so”, but Damien and I have been raising the issue of Enbridge for over 2 years. Our warnings have been confirmed by the National Transportation Safety Board in the US, in ringing terms, with Enbridge being compared to the Keystone Kops, which, in addition to comparing them to the fumbling police of that name may be a not-so-sly allusion to TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline from the Tar Sands to Texas.
The report is devastating and even moved The Vancouver Sun’s Vaughn Palmer – thus far noted for his silence on this matter – to conclude that the Enbridge deal is “doomed to be non-starter.”
I wish I could feel the sense of relief many do but I can’t.
Enbridge is not really the enemy – they are simply the designated drivers. The enemy is the consortium which wants to move bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands to Kitimat. There are three accomplices involved: the governments of Canada, Alberta and BC.
I believe that Enbridge is in trouble on this one and, amongst other things, have risked and lost several millions on their truly laughable ad campaign. (We break here for a moment while we all retrieve our hankies to wipe away out tears).
The unhappy news is that this report on Enbridge, far from lessening the Tar Sands threat to BC, has enhanced it. There will be a new pipeline consortium put in place and the companies and their three accomplices will say, “See, we listened to your concerns and have commissioned Leakabit Pipelines from Saudi Arabia (or somewhere else), who have assured us that they are 99% certain, or at any rate pretty sure, that there will never be a spill in BC; and they cross their heart and swear that they will really and truly be good corporate citizens and we can confidently place the fauna and flora of our beautiful state – oops it’s a province isn’t it? – in their hands.”
The issue hasn’t changed by reason of the NTSB decision. Somebody is going to get the contract to take the Tar Sands Bitumen to Kitimat and we would be bloody fools to let this decision weaken our resolve to stop all shipment to Kitimat – or perhaps it might wind up in Prince Rupert – and the consequent tanker traffic out Douglas Channel through the Inner Passage. The NTSB report will also place added pressure behind the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion to Vancouver.
The only political leadership being shown is from Adrian Dix. The Cummins Conservatives support the Enbridge pipeline and the tankers it will fill, while Premier Clark has the guts of a jelly fish melting in the sun.
The Liberal government refused to join the Joint Review Panel as a government, even though First Nations did. We have, then, no place at the table. We are time-barred from even making an argument, which is probably good news in one sense since the present BC government and leader would waffle its way into supporting the Federal government.
Why is Premier Clark behaving this way?
A part of the reason is that the Liberal government is joined at the hip to the ultra-right wing Fraser Institute, who thinks it’s a grand idea to pipe bitumen through BC to the coast, thence down the coast by tanker.
There is a more pressing reason.
The HST expires a month before the May ’13 election and BC faces a crippling bill from the Feds. Whether or not the Feds have told Ms. Clark to be a good little girl and she’ll be rewarded or not, doesn’t matter – she doesn’t need to be told.
Ever since I can remember, BC governments have stood up for their province’s rights. The public expect that for the very good reason that if they don’t, the feds will run roughshod over us. The gutlessness of the premier shows up very clearly in the polls.
On the twin issues of pipelines from the Tar Sands and the tankers they will fill, the people of British Columbia, thanks to the Campbell/Clark government, are on their own. That’s happened before, as in the Charlottetown Accord Referendum in 1992, when the people in BC by nearly 70% defied both the provincial government and Ottawa.
My prediction is that one way or another, the people will rise up again against Victoria and Ottawa and make their unshakeable desire to protect their province well known.


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.

8 thoughts on “No Time for Relief as Regulators, Media Dismiss Enbridge’s Pipedreams

  1. The proposed Enbridge pipeline thru B.C. increasingly appears to be a non-starter(At least as proposed) All parties opposed must be constantly on guard as to further proposals from this company. Kitimat is probably one of the worst places for a pipeline terminus (And tanker port) In an attempt to soften the opposition to the pipeline, Enbridge will likely offer Prince Rupert as an alternate. The problem will still exist, however. If the pipeline becomes a reality in spite of the considerable opposition, then the B.C. government MUST insist on the company posting a performance bond charged on each barrel shipped.
    In addition, the company will be charged the full cost of any spill cleanup. (NOT taken from performance fund returns)
    There is a strong possibility that stakeholders (Voters, First Nations, environmental groups, etc.,) will be offered incentives to accept, or at least cease opposition to the pipeline. Hopefully, those who may be approached in such a manner will see the folly of agreeing to such.
    Another possibility is that the poorly performing Enbridge may withdraw its proposal, but form a new company and submit a new plan differing in but a few details.

  2. I an NDP “insider” in a very, very minor way and I can tell you that I have spoken to no one in the party that does not back Dix’s promise to fight this to the end. And that includes a few MLA’s. If the NDP should ever cave on this I will leave it at that very moment, although I doubt I would be missed, I believe a whole lot of others would be leaving with me.

    Hell, if the Supreme Court of Canada should rule for the pipeline at that moment I will join the nearest separatist party I can find, or if necessary start one.

    This is where we have to draw the line, and this is where we have to stand up and be counted.

  3. I’m not a fan of Christy Clark… but yesterday the Premier said:

    “I think the company should be deeply embarrassed about what unfolded — we saw that in the report,” Clark told reporters in Kamloops, B.C. “If they think they’re going to operate like that in British Columbia, forget it. I think Enbridge has some pretty important questions to answer, because the results of that report are absolutely unacceptable.”

  4. I was trolling through some of the left leaning US sites this morning…like the Nation and MSNBC and absolutely NO mention of this bit of news about the NTSB. Is it only we Canadians who find this important???

  5. As a matter of fact TransCanada proposed Keystone and not Enbridge. Otherwise the article is fine

  6. Very good blog today. We can’t let up. I suspect the supporters of the pipeline are just reloading and will try to pull the wool over our eyes with some new slight of hand. Keep Vigilant Raif as we all should.

  7. If anyone deserves to take a quiet breath.. and say ‘I told you so..’ it would be the likes of you, or Alexandra Morton or Dr. David Schindler.. or Nicki Nikiforuk, Beav, Thwap. Sask.. Laila etc (there are so many exemplary and awesome leaders) ie many many highly attuned bloggers or rapporteurs .. or citizens.. or Haida elders..

    Or elders of any and all of the First Nations of Alberta or British Columbia… or just plain elders or the concerned from each n every territory or province of Canada. Farmer, fisher, mother, father, driver, bureaucrat.. stevedore, hygienist ..

    The NTSB has validated ‘on the record’ what you and many others have put equally ‘on the record’ re pipelines and coastal waters and shores … and your view of inevitable adverse/catastrophic events and consequences have been found to to be clearly correct..

    Bricks in the wall.. sandbags on the dike .. debris pulled from a rainforest stream .. a salmon swims free .. We need a warrior or warrioress such as yourself, that’s based in the tar sands, we need a boreal warrior/exemplar .. exemplaress ….. We need exemplars to shame Harper, Oliver, Kent, Ashfield.. and Baird .. and in that order.. .

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