VANCOUVER – Teams of Dogwood canvassers will hit the streets Saturday morning, gathering signatures in support of an eventual province-wide vote on oil tanker projects. The renewed organizing effort by the B.C. citizen group comes after today’s conditional approval of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion by the National Energy Board.

“This issue is too important to leave up to industry or politicians to decide,” said Kai Nagata, Communications Director at Dogwood Initiative. “When it comes to oil tankers on our coast, British Columbians need to have a democratic say.”

Despite an election promise by the Liberal Party of Canada, the National Energy Board review initiated by the previous Conservative government was carried out unchanged. The NEB barred the public from hearings, disallowed cross-examination of Kinder Morgan and refused to consider climate impacts or a National Academy of Sciences report that found diluted bitumen sinks in water.

During the federal election campaign last August, Justin Trudeau told Nagata the NEB’s process “needs to be redone“, and that Kinder Morgan would not be approved “because we’re going to change the government.” The NEB report will now go to the federal cabinet, which has promised a decision in December 2016.

The Province of British Columbia would then need to sign off on several dozen permits, as well as its own Environmental Assessment certificate. Polling over the last five years has shown two in three British Columbians opposed to the expansion of oil tanker traffic on the coast.

“We’re talking about costs and consequences that will last for decades. Politicians are thinking on a timeframe of four years at the most. We need to put this decision back in the hands of the people affected,” said Nagata.

If the project gets the go-ahead from federal and provincial decision makers, voters have the option of launching a citizens’ initiative under British Columbia’s Recall and Initiative Act.

Like the HST referendum in 2011, a successful petition drive could trigger a province-wide vote, allowing British Columbians a democratic say over oil tanker projects on the coast.

For more information:

Kai Nagata

Communications Director, Dogwood Initiative