If a proposal to build a pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to the B.C. coast goes through, it will demonstrate that the so-called new relationship between the province and aboriginal peoples is completely dead, says MLA Scott Fraser.
“I met with First Nations about the Enbridge pipeline and supertankers and there is complete, total, absolute opposition from all First Nations involved,” Fraser said. “What they are saying is this is not an acceptable risk in their territories.”
The pipeline, Fraser continued, puts at risk over 1,000 fish-bearing streams and rivers.
“Every northern watershed is at risks because of this pipeline, along with the entire coast of British Columbia — all for just 45 permanent jobs,” he said. “Enbridge has had over 700 spills in the last decade alone. Large and small, they’ve had them all.”
The bitumen that would be transported through the pipeline, he added, is unlike the sweet crude that floats on the surface of the water. Rather, it tends to sink, meaning it is virtually impossible to clean up once it gets into the water.
“It will sink into the watersheds and be leaching there forever,” Fraser said. “There is no way to clean that up.”
Despite this, he said, the provincial government has been acting as a strong cheerleader for the Enbridge proposal
“The province is moving ahead as if there is no opposition,” Fraser said. “The Liberal government is shilling for Enbridge.”
In response to a question on the issue in the legislature this month, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Mary Polak disagreed with Fraser.
“The Enbridge project is undergoing a full Canadian environmental assessment,” she said. “There are strict requirements that they need to meet in that process. This is a very long process. It will likely take years to complete, and there’s a joint review panel that has asked Enbridge to provide more information.
“There is a process that is being followed. Part of what we follow in our commitment to the new relationship is to ensure that First Nations are included appropriately all along the way.”