Bill serves corporate interests

True Conservatives are fighting to ‘conserve’ the laws, democratic institutions, processes and environment that make this country great

With passing of Bill C-38, it should become clear who the ruling political party in Ottawa represents. It’s time for a change of name to clear up any confusion. The Corporatist Party of Canada or China or whatever foreign corporation that wants to turn a buck at Canada’s expense, it’s interchangeable, depending on the project.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that Enbridge and Department of Fisheries and Oceans biologists clashed over the level of risk to fish habitat under the proposed route for the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. DFO biologists were concerned with Enbridge’s apparent lack of measures to mitigate the damage done to sensitive fish habitat along the route, with one biologist stating: “There is not much movement by Enbridge for avoidance of sensitive areas.” Another stated concern on how the proponent is proposing the crossing methods through streams with SARA-listed species, spawning channels, with no hesitation.

DFO biologists stated that the level of risk to these fish populations were medium to high. Obviously Enbridge disagreed and decided that it would be cheaper just to get the feds to do their dirty work than to put in the effort to reroute around these sensitive areas.

Documents reveal that from Jan. 1 to the tabling of recent Fisheries Act amendments, Enbridge lobbyists met with a little more than 100 government and opposition MPs, cabinet ministers and senior political and government officials, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright. The result? The complete gutting of the Fisheries Act to the benefit of Enbridge, foreign owned corporations in the tar sands and the authoritarian regime of China. British Columbians on the other hand, well we take on all the risk and get some piecemeal jobs. Not a good deal, no matter what the industry propaganda says.

If that wasn’t bad enough, internal correspondence between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada warned the project could adversely affect the populations listed under schedule one of Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Species such as endangered populations of woodland caribou, along with rare types of birds and frogs, were among a list of at least 15 species under direct threat from the construction of this pipeline.

A National Energy Board decision on an approval certificate for a pipeline is now exempted from applying Species at Risk Act provisions to protect critical habitat for endangered species. The NEB decision is not required to ensure (but may still consider) that all reasonable alternatives to reduce impact considered by the project, and feasible measures to minimize impact are to be taken. Bill C-38 also makes changes to the NEB Act so ‘Cabinet may order the NEB to reconsider any recommendation the board makes on whether a certificate (approval) should be issued for a pipeline project’ .

So even if the National Energy Board were to rule against the Northern Gateway Pipeline on evidence that the risk to fish habitat and endangered species was unacceptable, cabinet could simply overrule them and allow this disastrous project to go ahead. This is arbitrary and becoming of an autocratic Third World banana republic, not an open democratic society. Take into account also that the Harper government has instituted the cold war Soviet practice of muzzling government scientists, add in that most of cabinet is filled with people who don’t believe in evolution or climate change, and the future of B.C.’s coast, endangered species and fish ecology doesn’t look too bright.

The true Conservatives are the people fighting to, you know, ‘conserve’ the laws, democratic institutions, processes and environment that make this country great. The radicals are the ones who are altering the social fabric of Canada by eroding it with an omnibus budget bill that favours corporations, many of them foreign. Where might you ask is Dan Albas in all this? Dan Albas was in Ottawa voting Bill C-38 into law. We need an MP in Ottawa that looks out for his constituents (all of them) and the health of the country, not just what’s best for his career in the short term.

Cody Young

Penticton