Pipeline hearings met with protest
The sound of beating drums and the voices of First Nations people united in protest greeted the first day of the Joint Review Panel hearings in Prince George on Tuesday.
“We are demonstrating to show our opposition to the Enbridge pipeline,” Terry Teegee, Carrier Sekani Tribal Council chief said while holding up a sign reading ‘Protect First Nations Rights and Interests’.
Teegee added the protesters also have an issue with the JRP process itself.
“We don’t just disagree with the project, but the process as well. We see it as rubber stamping. We believe in the near future, by the end of next year, Harper will approve the pipeline.”
Teegee said the JRP is not taking the rights and title of First Nations people into account as it hears testimony and evidence from intervenors.
“We are looking at filing litigation,” he said, adding they intend to take their case to the Supreme Court and follow every appeal process possible in order to be heard. Considering the time frame those type of suits take, he added, it may be eight to 10 years before the case is finalized.
“It baffles me why Enbridge would hang in there considering all the opposition to the project,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to happen. I have heard people say they would do anything to stop this project by any means possible.”
Former city councillor, Debora Munoz, also attended the protest.
“I have been involved in opposition to this since 2008,” she said. “There are too many risks and no benefits I see coming to B.C.”
She added she is not impressed with Enbridge’s record when it comes to cleaning up oil spills.
“Enbridge has a terrible record of spills and I don’t think our environment should be for sale at any price. Our environment, our lands, our fish are not for sale and shouldn’t be on the bargaining table.”
Munoz added that she recently attended a lecture where a leading Canadian economist, Robyn Allan, spoke.
“According to Robyn Allan the prices at the pumps will go up for Canadians,” she said.
“And I understand there will be very few jobs available for northern British Columbians along the pipeline.”
Although not at the protest, Coun. Brian Skakun attended the first day of the Prince George hearings, sitting in the audience to listen to the testimony presented.
“I have a number of concerns with this,” he said. “First, I am concerned with the lack of consultation thus far with the First Nations community and I support their stand against the pipeline,” he said.
Along with many others, Skakun expressed his concern regarding the environment should the pipeline go through.
“Who will be responsible for spills? Who pays? They are dealing with bitumen, not oil. There are different concerns.”
Skakun said the Enbridge oil spill in Kalamazoo and the way it was dealt with did not alleviate his concerns.
“Someone in the States said watching the clean-up down their was like watching the keystone cops,” he said.
His final concern, he said, is that British Columbians just aren’t getting enough out of the deal.
“We’re really getting nothing for the life of the pipeline,” he said. “Long term, the benefits just aren’t there.”