For Immediate Release
Council of Canadians Calls on Liberals to Halt Pipeline Reviews as House of Commons Resumes Sitting Today
WASHINGTON - The Energy East pipeline and the National Energy Board (NEB) process to review it could be a key issue this week as the House of Commons resumes sitting today.
The Globe and Mail reports, "Managing the heated debate over the Energy East pipeline is shaping up to be one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s most pressing challenges as MPs return to Ottawa Monday. The Official Opposition Conservatives plan to push the issue in the House of Commons this week as an example of a multibillion-dollar infrastructure project that could create jobs and stimulate the economy all through private investment. The NDP meanwhile is accusing the Liberals of backing away from promises to bring in tougher environmental rules regarding pipeline approvals."
Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer says, "I’ll be looking for the Prime Minister to show some leadership on this and say that this is an important national project. It’s incredibly important to the Canadian economy in general, incredibly important to western Canada, and we will be pushing the government to approve these very fundamental projects. ...This project is a multi-billion project that could employ thousands of Canadians without a cent of government money. This is a privately-funded stimulus project if we can get the approval for it."
NDP House Leader Peter Julian notes, “We need to put in place a much saner, much more effective approach on pipeline development so that we can make sure that we can cover the environmental angle, First Nations have been consulted, and communities have had a chance to have their say. ...[The Liberals] backtracked off that and I’m starting to hear from people who voted Liberal saying, ‘I didn’t vote for that'."
For his part, Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc says, "Our commitment was not to scrap the [NEB review] process or to redo it completely. Our commitment was to ensure that it is robust and significant and if we have suggestions of how to improve it, the ministers of environment and natural resources will probably be making those announcements in the coming weeks."
In fact, the Liberal platform stated, "We will immediately review Canada’s environmental assessment processes and introduce new, fair processes that will: restore robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments of areas under federal jurisdiction [and] provide ways for Canadians to express their views and opportunities for experts to meaningfully participate... We will modernize the National Energy Board, ensuring that its composition reflects regional views and has sufficient expertise in fields like environmental science, community development, and Indigenous traditional knowledge."
They also promised, "We will undertake, in full partnership and consultation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation, a full review of laws, policies, and operational practices. This will ensure that on project reviews and assessments, the Crown is fully executing its consultation, accommodation, and consent obligations, in accordance with its constitutional and international human rights obligations, including Aboriginal and Treaty rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."
Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue says, "Continuing with the flawed Kinder Morgan and Energy East reviews is entirely inconsistent with Liberal promises. How can a 'transition strategy' rectify the failings around public participation and Indigenous consultation for these projects. I don't see how this can happen. We are not saying pipeline companies have to go back to square one. All evidence submitted goes on hold and this can be supplemented with additional evidence after the changes are made."
On Saturday (Jan. 23), the Council of Canadians joined with hundreds of people in Burnaby to protest the NEB hearings on the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion now taking place there. The Canadian Press reports, "Residents, First Nations and environmentalists called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep his campaign promise and overhaul the federal review process. Opponents say the review has ignored climate change, failed to pursue indigenous consent, flouted proper procedures and shut hundreds of people from the process."
Harden-Donahue says, "The existing reviews for both projects have shown a lack of adequate aboriginal consultation, a clear democratic deficit, and a failure to evaluate climate implications. The NEB itself is stacked with recent Harper appointees and industry insiders. The Liberal government must live up to its promises by stopping the flawed NEB review of these controversial projects and launching a public review of Canada’s environmental assessment processes." To add your voice to the demand that the Liberal government stop the NEB review of the Energy East and Trans Mountain pipelines and launch a public review of environmental assessment processes, please go to our Keep your promises, Liberals: Stop pipeline reviews action alert.
As Parliament resumes sitting today and the debate intensifies, this message needs to be delivered even more strongly.
Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s leading social action organization, mobilizing a network of 60 chapters across the country.