Ponder the words spoken by Prime Minister Harper on a recent visit to North Vancouver – quoted in the Vancouver Sun:
"I think we have been very clear on this," said Harper.
"We will only allow tanker traffic if we can be sure that tanker traffic is safe. But will we ever say that we cannot have the same kind of commerce on the West Coast as on the East Coast? Of course we're never going to rule out those opportunities for our country."
Harper said he wants to "see the day" when Canada is able to continue to increase trade with Asia.
"So we're not going to create artificial bans on the West Coast that don't exist in other parts of the country."
Those are the words which must surely cause British Columbians to utterly reject Harper and his Tories at the polls.
objection to the Enbridge double pipeline proposal from the Tar Sands
to Kitimat thence by huge tanker down our coast, and expansion of the
Kinder-Morgan pipeline from the Tar Sands to Burnaby, are not based upon
some 1960s flower children chants (it turns out we should have listened
to them) or some anti-business bias. The deep concerns come from fact,
not emotion (though I confess that I have strong emotions about my
province) about a policy which is based upon the false premise that
these propositions have little risk.
Forgive me for using my oft-repeated simile but the dangers cannot be pushed aside lightly by one-liners.
Suppose you have a revolver with 100 chambers, only one of which has a bullet and suppose you put the gun to your head and pull the trigger just once. The odds are simple, 99-1 against. What, however, if you decide to repeat this insanity without any limits as to how many or how long?
The risk is then a certainty waiting to happen.
As you are calculating the odds of the gun going off you would be concerned about the consequences; namely, unless you were firing marshmallow not bullets you would be dead.
Not only are these pipelines and tankers certain to have accidents, the consequences are not marshmallow but utter catastrophe.
The pipelines, two them to Kitimat - one with Tar Sands gunk, the other to take back the natural gas compound to Alberta used to dilute the bitumen for pumping - transit some of the last true wilderness on the planet, including the Great Bear Rainforest.
What happens if there is a leak during this 1000-plus km journey?
The spill piles up until help comes, and given our geography, God only knows how long that would take!
Enbridge’s track record is appalling. With its Kalamazoo River spill last year it was roundly criticized for tardiness and that was in a populated area.
When Enbridge has its BC spill it will be in wilderness devoid of easy access. When the spill is reported the company must seal off both sides of the rupture and during that interval oil continues to flow through the breach. We’re talking 1100km transversing about 1000 rivers and streams in the wildest terrain in the world. No matter how quickly Enbridge responds, the damage will be an enormous, permanent tragedy. Moreover, while at the best of times any rupture will be tragic, what if the rupture is by terrorists who know how to make it as catastrophic as possible?
The proposed tanker traffic out of Kitimat is just as serious a concern as a land tragedy, perhaps even more so. The Exxon Valdez will pale by comparison. This is the most dangerous of the world’s seacoasts.
I hesitate to say that as we voters calculate the consequences of Harper’s offhand dismissal of our case (75-80% of British Columbians have consistently polled in favour of a tanker ban), we should remember that there isn’t anything in it for BC. I hesitate because even if the rewards were immense we should be opposed because no monetary reward could compensate our loss. In fact, BC is simply an easement and gets nothing of consequence.
Why are our two senior
governments so eager to have our province, on land and sea, hostage to
China’s need for Tar Sands gunk? Isn’t the idea to get away from the use
of fossil fuels? Aren’t we, in a sense, enabling the drunk to drink?
(It’s interesting to note the similarity of this policy to the government’s utter lack of concern that the Campbell/Clark private power plan sends all the benefits out of province. What is it about us in BC that the governments we help elect want to destroy our environment while making foreigners rich and happy?)
Back to proposed and existing pipelines and tanker traffic.