We’re feeling optimistic this week. And it’s not just because the British Columbia provincial government has officially come out in opposition to Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline — though that is certainly an encouraging sign. It’s because as review hearings on the controversial project come to a close, we’re hearing a lot more about the values we share than the differences that, at other times, threaten to divide us.

Ecojustice lawyers filed a final written argument against the proposed pipeline last week on behalf of our clients, ForestEthics Advocacy, Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation. The 150+ page submission covers a wide range of concerns, including inadequate oil spill response plans and the pipeline’s potential impact on endangered wildlife.

Later this month, we will make a final oral argument to the review panel in Terrace, B.C. The message we’ll be sending? That the review panel should reject Enbridge’s proposal because of three key reasons:

  • The environmental assessment  is inadequate according to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act,
  • The project is not in the public interest, and
  • The project will have significant and adverse environmental effects

And we’re not the only ones who think so. Canadians from across the country have stood up against the pipeline and everything that comes with it — more oilsands production, more destruction of the habitat endangered wildlife need to survive and recover, and more risky tanker traffic through the unpredictable waters off B.C.’s north coast.

It’s far too early to predict how the provincial government’s rejection of the pipeline will ultimately play out. Once the review panel submits its recommendations to the federal government, Cabinet will have the final say in whether the project can proceed.

What we do know is that the provincial government’s position on Northern Gateway is now consistent with that of the majority of B.C. residents. We also know that by saying no to Enbridge and this
unsafe pipeline, the provincial government is taking important steps to defend two values Canadians hold dear: Nature and democracy.

So that’s why we’re feeling optimistic today. When it comes to issues as divisive as the Northern Gateway pipeline and what Canada’s energy strategy should look like, finding some common ground between groups that don’t always agree is always a small victory.