Feds to give final answer on Northern Gateway

Feds' final decision on Northern Gateway going down to the deadline on Tuesday

  • Jun. 16, 2014 8:00 a.m.

By Dene Moore, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – The federal government will announce its much-anticipated decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline after markets close on Tuesday.

Under its own rules, the Conservative government has a June 17 deadline for the final word on whether the 1,200-kilometre pipeline can be built linking the Alberta oilsands to a port on the British Columbia coast.

A joint review panel of the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency released a report in December recommending approval, and Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford has hinted the cabinet decision will be a positive one for the project.

He pointed to the fact his government has already responded to two recommendations made in a separate report by Doug Eyford, a special envoy on energy affairs who consulted widely with aboriginal communities in the westernmost province.

“With more than 73,000 kilometres of pipeline in Canada and a 99.999 per cent safety record, we are confident that record and Mr. Eyford’s suggestions will help build the kind of framework for us to move forward with respect to transportation of our energy products,” Rickford said Monday in Ottawa.

The $7-billion project is worth an estimated $300 billion in gross domestic product over 30 years, but the pipeline faces steep opposition from many First Nations and environmental groups in B.C. Several aboriginal groups have already threatened court challenges if the federal government gives it the go-ahead.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has said the project still has not met the five conditions the province has set out for approval. Those conditions include strict environmental protections, adequate consultations with First Nations and that B.C. receives a “fair share” of the benefits.

“None of the proposals have met the five conditions yet, so therefore, none of them would be approved,” Clark said in response to questions Monday.

“I have said there are five conditions. Any proposal to expand heavy oil through British Columbia needs to meet the five conditions. Enbridge hasn’t met them yet and they need to before they would be approved by our province.”

While approval is a federal decision, Clark has said the project will still need about 60 permits from the province for construction to proceed.

A coalition of groups announced Monday that they will help organize a provincial citizens’ initiative, similar to the campaign that forced the province to revoke the unpopular harmonized sales tax, should the province issue those permits. If successful, the petition would force the B.C. government to respond, either with a vote in the legislature or by holding a non-binding provincewide plebiscite.

Coastal First Nations, Unifor, West Coast Environmental Law, Douglas Channel Watch and One Cowichan will join the Dogwood Initiative’s work on LetBCvote.ca.

“The energy industry feeds our families and supports our industries. But we don’t support exporting our raw bitumen to be refined in other countries,” Jerry Dias, Unifor’s national president, said in a statement.

“Northern Gateway ignores the reality of climate change, offers few long-term jobs, and doesn’t address First Nations’ concerns.”

In Ottawa, both the NDP and the Liberals urged the federal government during question period to reject the project, pointing to opposition by aboriginal communities and environmental concerns.

NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen singled out Conservative MPs from British Columbia for criticism — a line of attack likely to resurface in the province during the next federal election.

“Environmentally, it is a disaster waiting to happen. Economically, it is a sellout of good Canadians jobs. Politically, it is a nightmare for a tired, out-of-date, arrogant government that just cannot listen to the people who put it here,” Cullen said in the Commons.

“Finally, will B.C. Conservatives stand up for British Columbians and reject this bad proposal?”

— With files from Jennifer Ditchburn in Ottawa

Follow @ByDeneMoore and @jenditchburn on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Darrell Holland is running for council in Fraser Lake

Holland has worked within the sawmill as an industrial electrician for 15 years

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

Retired RCMP officer Kim Watt-Senner in the running for Fraser Lake council

Watt-Senner spent 19 years with the RCMP and also owns a business in Fraser Lake

John Murphy is running for re-election in Vanderhoof

The Vanderhoof councillor wants to work on housing and transportation

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Jagmeet Singh says marijuana pardons are not enough

Trudeau government will streamline pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past

BC Ferries begins taking debit in two-month pilot project

Company is giving customers option to use Interac on two-month trial on select vessels

Caregivers banned from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care: MCFD

Ministry has limited cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Just 7% of Northern B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

Most Read