Emma Gilchrist, Communications Director, for the Dogwood Initiative made the following comments in response to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver’s remarks about “foreign money” influencing Enbridge Northern Gateway public hearings.

“This is about fairness and democracy. When foreign oil companies like China’s SinoCanada, Korea’s Daewoo, Japan Canada Oil Sands, Britain’s BP or America’s ExxonMobil, Imperial Oil and Conoco Phillips sign up as interveners in the Northern Gateway hearings, the Prime Minister is mute. When China’s state-owned oil company Sinopec funds Enbridge’s pipeline project to the tune of at least $10 million, the Prime Minister expresses no qualms.

“But when local citizens’ groups at the Enbridge pipeline hearings say they want to protect their land from oil companies, the Prime Minister has suddenly got a bee in his bonnet about ‘foreign influence.’  

“If the Prime Minister is truly concerned about the influence of foreign money, why not raise the alarm about the millions of dollars in lobbying and advertising spent in Canada by foreign oil companies?  Why not talk about the big oil money in politics?  

“Over the three-year period from 2007 to 2010 alone, foreign companies poured nearly $20 billion into the oilsands. In contrast, according to blogger Vivian Krause, U.S. charitable foundations have given Canadian environmental groups less than 1.5 per cent that amount over a ten-year period, accounting for all charitable funding on Canadian environmental issues ranging from forest protection to fisheries conservation.

“A poll released today shows that almost 75 per cent of British Columbians are worried about foreign investment in Canadian natural resources, but only a small minority (15 per cent) are concerned about charitable funding provided by U.S. foundations to Canadian environmental groups. Harper is way offside with the B.C. public on this issue.

“Real democracy must really scare our Prime Minister. The fact more than 4,000 people – the vast majority of whom are Canadian – have signed up to be part of these public hearings should be no surprise: according to Ipsos Reid, over 75 per cent of British Columbians are opposed to the supertanker traffic an Enbridge pipeline would bring. This public participation is a testament to democracy and public concern about this project and, in a time of unprecedented voter apathy, it is a positive sign that citizens will engage in the democratic process on issues they care deeply about.

“If Harper is only now realizing this regulatory process is overwhelmed by public concern and thus not to his liking, it is only because he has refused to listen to British Columbians. Faced with overwhelming opposition, it is clear the Conservative government is prepared to rig the rules to get this pipeline approved.”

Contact: Emma Gilchrist Dogwood Initiative 250-370-9930 ext. 31

Dogwood Initiative is a Victoria-based non-profit that brings together everyday British Columbians to take back decision-making power over their air, land and water.

Thanks to World Economic Forum on Flickr for the image. Used under a Creative Commons license.