VANCOUVER – A lively street performance involving 30 people took place this morning to draw attention to the federal solution to proposed projects such as Enbridge Inc’s Northern Gateway pipelines to Kitimat that would bring oil tankers, and inevitable spills, to BC’s north coast.
The performance began with the “Lunn Legacy” – a mock oil tanker made out of recycled election signs – leaving Enbridge Inc’s Vancouver headquarters for the coast. The tanker, piloted by a ‘Prime Minister Harper’, was quickly intercepted by a crowd of citizens and chased down the streets of Vancouver. Three non-British Columbian environmental review panelists tried to help the tanker crew but were eventually rounded up at the corner of Robson and Granville.
A mock election wrapped things up under two giant video billboards illustrating federal party positions on the concept of a tanker ban to protect the north coast.
“Every vote during the next federal election will affect the future of our coast,” says Eric Swanson of Dogwood Initiative. “A legislated ban is the best way to stop Enbridge’s proposed oil tankers, and that means there are two types of federal politicians in BC: those who support a ban and those who don’t. The Liberals and the NDP support a ban, the Conservatives don’t. We’re saying: next election vote for the coast”
In June, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff announced their commitment to a legislated tanker ban for Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. NDP MP Fin Donnelly of New Westminster-Coquitlam has a private members’ bill before Parliament to legislate a tanker ban in BC’s inside coastal waters.
“When 80% of British Columbians of all political stripes oppose tanker traffic, supporting a legislated tanker ban for our ecologically sensitive coast seems like a no-brainer,” said Nikki Skuce of ForestEthics. “Remaining on the wrong side of public opinion could carry significant political costs for the Conservatives.”
“When questioned about oil tankers, the Conservatives often point to the Joint Review Panel process,” continues Swanson. “But that process fails First Nations, doesn’t address climate and tar sands impacts, and doesn’t even include a British Columbian on the panel. Do BC Conservative MPs think this decision should ultimately be up to British Columbians, or not? “
The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline would stretch 1,170 kilometres from the tar sands to Kitimat, where oil would be loaded onto supertankers bound for foreign markets. Over 225 oil tankers a year would navigate the same waters where BC Ferries’ Queen of the North sank in 2006. The Coastal First Nations have declared their own ban on oil tankers through BC’s north coast, and the UBCM recently passed a resolution in support of a federal, north coast oil tanker ban.