The federal election tested the limits of endurance for Dogwood’s staff and volunteers. Hours were long, new technological ground was constantly being broken and money was tight.
Through it all, however, the mission was clear and in the end we saw concrete results from our work. All else being equal, our on-the-ground efforts almost certainly elected one MP, and contributed significantly to at least four other close races.
Our higher level work helped cement the future of our coast and the threat of oil tankers as a top-tier election issue mentioned constantly in the media and by candidates, bucking the downward trend of environmental issues nationwide.
After the vote on May 2, B.C. had one less MP in favour of more oil tankers, and two new coastal champions in Randall Garrison and Elizabeth May. However, the national result of a Conservative majority forces a slight change in plans in the No Tankers campaign.
Change in plans
Post-election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper immediately reiterated his opposition to an oil tanker ban, signalling little room to advance a federal legislated oil tanker ban during the next four years.
We are steadfast in maintaining that long-term goal, so we’ll keep it on simmer. It is the elegant solution that protects the future of our coast not only from Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, but all similar proposals.
In the meantime, our team has recharged and reloaded. We’re powering up other components of the No Tankers campaign and making it bigger.
We’re going to up the pressure on Enbridge and their project investors; we’re going to fire holes in the inadequate review process; and we’re going to turn our political attention to our provincial and municipal governments – both of which have the power to protect our coast. Municipal elections are coming up in November, and we could be into a provincial election this fall. We’ll be ready.
We have always opposed all expansions of oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast, but our limited resources have meant we had to focus where it was most strategic – on Enbridge and the north coast of B.C. Given the new context, we will now be actively engaging against Kinder Morgan’s plans to bring more and bigger oil tankers to Vancouver and our south coast.
The No Tankers campaign is about protecting our coast, but we chose it because it also had strong connections to what we call the root issues: the need for more local control over resources, reconciliation between First Nations and the rest of society, climate change, and the unfortunate paradigm that infinite economic growth is both desirable and necessary.
We’ve always worked on these underlying issues, but we now have some room to chase them more aggressively within the No Tankers campaign.
For example, if you haven’t heard, B.C. already has two bans on oil pipelines and tanker traffic: the Coastal First Nations declaration and the Save the Fraser declaration, representing a unified exercise of aboriginal law. We at Dogwood recognize the authority of these decisions, and we’re looking forward to asking our 65,000+ supporters if they do as well.
Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, CN Rail, Alberta’s oil industry and certain politicians will continue to push these oil tanker projects. We’ll continue to stop them, and we’ll continue to support those who are working towards a better future for our coast.
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