Nanaimo-Alberni MP James Lunney said the current Northern Gateway pipeline review will work itself out, despite “weaknesses in the process [that] have been exploited by people who are just opposed to it,” he told The News.
He said the public review that started Jan. 10 in Kitamaat Village and could go on for two years, is an environmental review “meant to examine what the risks are and inform us as to decision-making on the project.”
The idea is “to engage in discussion about the project and for information to be disseminated to the public.”
He shares the Prime Minister and minister of energy’s concerns “there are legitimate concerns about foreign — particularly American — foundations funding the activity up here … to advance certain objectives that may not be in Canada’s interests.”
“I don’t think it’s necessary to hear from 4,500 witnesses on the project and extend the process by an extra year and hear the same kinds of objections,” but he also wouldn’t want to limit it to single representatives of any specific perspective.
“I’m not sure about one, I think there’s room to hear multiple people [but] there has to be a limit somewhere, you run out of new things to say.”
“There are people, ideologically who are just opposed to the use of oil and fossil fuels, but I tell you the same people expect a lot of services from the government and the money has to come from somewhere.”
He said with more people hitting retirement age and “ongoing discussions about health care and how we’re going to meet the needs of our population … we cannot afford to ignore our resources, which have a potential to provide the revenue to provide the services.”
Asked if he sympathized with people who felt they were unfairly called radicals by the Prime Minister for opposing the pipeline, Lunney said “there’s a range of interests here obviously, there are people who are quite open about saying they don’t want this to go ahead at any price regardless of what the environmental risks are or aren’t.”
“That’s a legitimate perspective, but it isn’t necessarily a kind of perspective that would trump other interests.”
“At the end of the day as a government we have an obligation to provide services and we have an obligation to examine how best to use the abundant resources we’re gifted with.”
He summed up by suggesting the previous NDP provincial government’s “ideology that extraction was bad,” led to “such a stringent approval process they basically shut down all the mining in British Columbia and turned us into a have-not province.”
“I don’t think-that’s in the public interest frankly.”