By Natalie Serafini, Opinions Editor
For months now, the Northern Gateway Pipeline has been a point of controversy amongst Canadians. The issue? Tons of oil that would end up being transported through a pipeline along BC’s coasts to PetroChina. The proposal would be economically beneficial for Canada, and Alberta with its tar sands aplenty certainly has a vested interest. Nonetheless, British Columbians have an eco-friendly reputation to live up to.
We’ve heard from Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who seems to think that British Columbians just want a larger chunk of the change; we’ve heard from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who’s been supportive of the pipeline; and we’ve heard from BC Premier Christy Clark, who flip-flopped before deciding to fight for her political career—oops, I mean, for BC’s pristine coasts! So, what do Douglas College students think about the issue?
Sona Osmanzai stated, “Well it’s good for people for [economic] improvement, but it’s not good for the environment. I totally understand people that are saying that it can harm, because really BC is very environmentally friendly. We take care of the nature here.”
Mark Ponce said, “I think in this case, people may have their own opinions of it, but in terms of how the government wants to reduce the debt, or increase the country’s income, I think yeah, of course they’re going to pursue the project.”
Jessie Foote thought that Harper should consider how BC would be affected by a spill, rather than just the potential benefits to Canada’s economy. “He needs to focus more on the individual provinces and how it affects them, and not just Canada in general.”
Asked how Christy Clark’s flip-flopping might affect her career, Derek Van Deursen stated “Well it depends if she can back it up and actually show that she’s [supportive of] it, or if she’s just following a trend. … If she can capitalize on that and actually follow through, then I think it could be beneficial.”
On how Stephen Harper’s career might be affected by the pipeline debate, Van Deursen also said, “It seems like his career is unaffected by all his blunders. … There’s so much money that I think it could almost [have] a positive effect if he gets it through, just because his supporters are the same kind of people who are backing it.”
Delaney Bloudell asserted that “There are so many people, and so many people are really vocal against [the Northern Gateway proposal]. So it’s hard to imagine that it’s actually going to happen. But ultimately, there’s the people with all the power and then there’s the rest of us. I’d like to think that we all have a voice and that they’re going to consider what we’re saying, but I’m kind of pessimistic.”
I think the Northern Gateway Pipeline is a pretty obvious recipe for disaster. According to Glen McGregor of the Ottawa Citizen, companies owned by the Calgary-based Enbridge Energy have experienced more than 170 pipeline leaks and spills in the US since 2002. In addition, the route the oil is proposed to take is treacherously anfractuous, and people experienced in traveling the area have testified to its dangers.
There’s definitely room to feel pessimistic based on how foggy and deceptive politics can be. Nonetheless, there are a few rays of hope shining through the fog: Christy Clark certainly wants to hang onto her career, and that means standing with British Columbians who are very vocally opposed to the pipeline. While the environmental review process is ongoing, Tim Leadem, a lawyer for Ecojustice, questioned how Enbridge “can be trusted even to conduct the building phase without environmental damage.” Legal battles and the obstacles that keep popping up in Enbridge’s way also show promise of impeding the path of the pipeline.
It sounds like Douglas College students and British Columbians in general are opposed to the pipeline. We can only shout and hope the powers that be will listen.