Emotion mounts over feds' scramble for pipeline support in BC

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Photo of whales near Great Bear Rainforest by Amy Huva
“I’m very skeptical about any good faith initiative with regard to this project," Hill noted grimly. 

"It's exceedingly poorly timed, especially given that the meetings follow on follow straight on the heels of Reconciliation Week," observed West Coast Environmental Law staff counsel Brenda Belak, a specialist in Aboriginal law.

She said the bureaucrats' hurried outreach effort "shows how they fail to understand the depth and breadth of First Nations opposition".

"Too little, too late"

NDP MLA Jen Rice, a former city councillor for Prince Rupert in Northern BC, felt the government was making a "last ditch" effort to save a project that had lost all support in northern BC.

"The federal government is now realizing there's four more months until the conclusion of the JRP, so there's a mad scramble to do some consultation," she said.  

She said she was disturbed by the Harper government's drastic cuts to environmental regulations and changes to the National Energy Board Act to limit public participation in hearings.

"I think it's very autocratic. It's frightening, actually," she said. "It's an erosion of our democracy, and shows where Harper's interests and his allies lie, which is with the oil industry."

In the video below, a Wet'suwet'en pipeline opponent (Northern BC) speaks out  

Fragile rights 

Rice's sentiments were echoed by  David Core, president of the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowners Association, who has been helping BC landowners along pipeline routes.

"Obviously, the government seems to be directly involved in this project before a decision is even made. This is nothing new, but I've never seen a government quite so forward about it as what's happening here (next week)," he said.   

Core works to help landowners challenge pipeline companies that enter their land, and then leave decommissioned, corroded pipelines on their territory. 

He strongly recommended that BC landowners along pipeline routes study the law before signing agreements, which could criminalize them for crossing pipelines on their own territory. Core noted that they are in a much weaker position than BC's First Nations to challenge corporations when it comes to land rights. 

"As for non-First Nation landowners along the pipeline, (the government) knows it can just expropriate them, and there's no questions asked," he said.

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