When you put a lot of work and energy into something, and it pans out, afterwards you can feel a weird combination of total exhaustion, but also lots of energy to take things even further.
That’s what I felt as a climactic December wrapped up an incredible year in the movement to stop oil pipelines and tankers.
2010 brought the Coastal First Nations’ declaration and the Save the Fraser Declaration of Nations, and support from BC’s local governments. Citizen groups from Kitimat to Prince George sprang into heightened action, and Canada-wide over 20,000 new people joined our corner. BC Liberal and NDP MPs were inspired to action, and the year closed with a successful House of Commons motion and a new piece of draft legislation.
Through it all, Enbridge failed to secure the commercial agreements they need to seriously advance their Northern Gateway project, in large part because our collective opposition has been so successful in generating uncertainty for the project’s potential investors. The oil companies Enbridge has been courting are smart enough to see our writing on the wall.
What I felt at the end of December was that finally, hopefully, British Columbians were close to clinching victory in a struggle that dates back four decades to the years before the West Coast Oil Ports Inquiry.
Now it’s January 2011, and I’ve had my holiday break. The exhaustion is gone and I’m ready to step it up a notch because it’s not over till it’s over. We’ve got the momentum, but the best defense is a good offence, after all.
As director of Dogwood’s No Tankers campaign, I’m setting out some New Year’s resolutions for our contribution to the movement through 2011.
1. Create hard political consequences for BC’s Conservative MPs
The clear distinction in BC is now between those politicians who say they are willing to stand up and protect our coast with new law banning oil tankers, and those who say they aren’t. The Conservatives – under Harper – are those who aren’t.
We know that Harper’s pro-oil tanker position pits him and his BC caucus against the majority of British Columbians, including large swaths of the Conservative Party’s own grassroots. This strategic misstep on Harper’s part forces his BC caucus to avoid the issue as much as possible.
We resolve to be unavoidable in two key Conservative-held ridings in BC: Vancouver Island North and North Vancouver, though we’ll be putting pressure on all BC Conservative MPs should they choose to remain offside.
Being unavoidable means making the issue of oil tankers a vote-determining issue during the next federal election, and moving votes away from vulnerable candidates who support oil tankers.
2. Cost Enbridge money
Enbridge has been given $100 million of what amounts to play money by a secret group of oil companies to advance their pipeline and supertanker project.
As long as there’s some of that money left all of the opposition we mount in BC doesn’t cost Enbridge a penny. We resolve to change that.
We’ll be launching a campaign in New Brunswick to challenge Enbridge’s corporate image.
3. Call Enbridge’s Process Bluff
Over the past year we’ve asserted that the best solution to the threat of oil tankers is a political solution in the form of a legislated ban. In response, Enbridge and BC’s Conservative MPs often choose to deflect concerns to the federal regulatory process.
That process is inherently flawed because there are no British Columbians on the review panel, it fails First Nations, it doesn’t give the public a meaningful say over the project, and as a result its outcomes are virtually guaranteed to be challenged in the courts.
Not only all that, but Enbridge is bluffing about the actual economic reality of their project. By this point of the regulatory process a pipeline proponent should have customers signed up to put oil into the pipeline and demonstrated capacity at the refining end of things. Enbridge doesn’t, they’re trying to put the cart before the horse and take us all on an imaginary ride.
We resolve to call Enbridge’s bluff. We’ll apply pressure on the government to dissolve the established non-British Columbian review panel altogether on the basis of Enbridge’s complete lack of commercial support.
4. Serve the movement
We’re winning because we have virtually unlimited grassroots democratic muscle, where Enbridge only has money. We’re winning because you’re reading this and you care.
One the best moments for me in 2010 was when hundreds of people pledged individual action to advance the cause, from mammoth awareness-raising bike rides to commitments to make phone calls. What we need is more of that.
If you have an idea of how you can throw your individual skills, interests, and passion into the movement then why not act on it?
We resolve to do what we can to support your ideas to get us closer to new law banning oil tankers from ever plying our north coast.
I’m sure there will be times this year when exhaustion mounts and all of us here at Dogwood will be stretched thin, but for me it is your ideas, your dedication and a belief in your ability to make a difference that will give me the energy to keep things going. Because of everything that YOU do, I’m resolved to win.