Mr Gérard Montpetit deplores the decision to approve two pipelines by the government of Justin Trudeau. This decision would have been OK … if it had been made by his grandfather, the CEO of Champlain Oil, in 1930.
This is 2016!
On the 26th of November, the announcement was made; the government of Mr Justin Trudeau had decided to approve Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline to the port of Vancouver as well as renovations of Enbridge’s old line 3 toward Wisconsin. But the Prime Minister rejected the Northern Gateway Project to Kitimat on the Pacific coast. This is the first time that Prime Minister Trudeau has made such a decision; if implemented, this will affect everything. The honeymoon of the government based on pretty selfies is over. However, we might ask ourselves if this decision in favor of the oil industry has any link to the fact that his grandfather, Charles, was the founder of Champlain Oil during the first half of the twentieth century.i
Right off the bat, the Prime Minister has just broken two of the promises that helped him win in the electoral campaign of 2O15: that of subjecting pipeline projects like TransMountain to a new environmental consultation and assessment process as well as that of basing such decisions on science. The urgently needed reform of the NEB (National Energy Board) is put off indefinitely! This is not a good start.
In a way, this announcement is a victory for the oil industry lobby. According to Raphael Bouvier-Auclair of Radio-Canadaii, there were some 35 meetings between representatives of Kinder Morgan and political employees or bureaucrats. As for Enbridge, the federal registry of lobbyists makes note of 70 meetings. However, on the other side of the balance of power, my own budget, (also true for most environmentalists) does not allow me to have a private meeting with the Prime Minister when the entrance fee is $1500 a plate!iii Certainly these meetings are not illegal, but, for those of us who believe that this is a democracy of the people, the optics are not good.
Let’s not forget that Northern Gateway had been accepted; but the fierce opposition from the First Nations, and from ordinary citizens forced its cancellation by the courtsiv. As well, the scarcity of economic benefits for British Columbia led Premier Clark to ask herself if the environmental risks incurred were worth the risk.
Even though the federal government just gave its consent, the problems that have plagued Northern Gateway await the TransMountain pipeline project, in spades. NDP member of Parliament, Kennedy Stewart, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May have sworn to fight alongside the First Nations and regional mayors of Vancouver. Mayor Robertson is as determined to protect the quality of the water in his jurisdiction as Montreal’s Denis Coderre.
In granting its blessing so precipitously to TransMountain, the Trudeau government has forgotten that that kind of decision should be made in consultation with scientists. In theory, he subscribes to the 5th report of the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change). Clearly, the objective of TransMountain’s construction is to increase the production of the tar sands. According to Enjeux Énergie, this pipeline, which will have a capacity of 324.85 million barrels a year, will be responsible for world emissions equivalent to 195 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. Greenhouse gases, whether produced in Fort McMurray, New Delhi, or Peking, will accelerate climate change for the whole planet. How do we reconcile this decision with Canada’s promises at the Paris Conference?
When Trudeau’s grandfather decided to sell oil and promote the car in the early ‘30s, he was in the full swing of the revolution that sounded the death knell of the horse and buggy erav. The world is now transitioning to renewable energies; 85 years later, building a pipeline is as backward as building a buggy plant back in 1930.
Mr Trudeau, this is 2016!
Member of CCCPEM (Comité des citoyens et citoyennes pour la protection de l’environnement maskoutain)
December 3, 2016