After more than a year of hearings, the National Energy Board panel reviewing Enbridge’s oil tanker and pipeline proposal completed the community hearings phase of its review in Vancouver on Friday.

The final tally in the largest National Energy Board hearings in history was 1,159 speakers opposed to the proposal and two in favour.

Presenters, ranging from a retired World Bank economist and the former CEO of BC Hydro to coast-guard trained oil spill experts and reverends, urged the panel to protect B.C.’s tourism industry and the province’s existing coastal economy.

“The panel listened to presentations from everyday British Columbians in 16 towns and cities across our province. No matter where they visited, the message was clear: the risk of an oil spill on our coast is too great,” said Emma Gilchrist, communications director for Dogwood Initiative. “However, as many presenters noted, the panel will not be making the final decision on this project.”

In 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper changed the law so Ottawa can overrule the joint review panel’s recommendations.

“This is going to be a political decision whether we like it or not,” Gilchrist said. “Now it’s just a matter of whether British Columbians allow Ottawa to make this decision for us or if we elect a B.C. government on May 14 that will stand up for our coast.”

On Saturday nearly 100 volunteers attended Knock the Vote, a strategic canvass blitz organized by Dogwood Initiative and Forest Ethics Advocacy in the provincial swing riding of Vancouver-Fairview, which was won by just 1,063 votes in the 2009 provincial election.

“More than 3,000 voters in Vancouver-Fairview had already signed Dogwood’s No Tankers petition urging the provincial and federal governments to stop the expansion of oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast,” Gilchrist said. “On Saturday, volunteers had conversations with over 600 more voters about where their candidates stand on this issue.”

Face-to-face conversations are proven to be the most effective way to influence how and if people will vote. Volunteer-driven Knock the Vote events are expected to happen across the province in the run-up to the provincial election, applying pressure on all parties to oppose the expansion of oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast.

“Protecting B.C.’s coast from the threat of oil spills is sure to be one of the top voting issues in May’s election,” said Nikki Skuce, senior energy campaigner for ForestEthics Advocacy. “The strong majority of British Columbians oppose an increase to oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast.”

Note: A graphic representation of the final tally of speakers at the community hearings is available on request.

Media contacts:

Emma Gilchrist, Communications Director
Dogwood Initiative

Nikki Skuce, Senior Energy Campaigner
Forest Ethics Advocacy

Dogwood Initiative is a Victoria-based public interest advocacy group working to help British Columbians have more say in decisions about their air, land and water.

Founded in April 2012, ForestEthics Advocacy is a non-profit society in Canada devoted to public engagement, outreach and environmental advocacy – including political advocacy. We secure large-scale protection of endangered forests and wild places and transform environmentally destructive resource-extraction industries.