By Tim Leadem, staff lawyer

This week Vancouverites will get the chance to address a federal review panel and speak out against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. Unfortunately, these “public” hearings won’t be nearly as accessible as they ought to be.

The roughly 330 people registered to address the panel will be allowed to attend the community hearings in person, but other members of the public won’t even be allowed into the room. Instead, as was the case in Victoria earlier this month, they will have to watch the proceedings via video feed at a separate location.

Limiting the public’s ability to fully and actively participate in a public process runs contrary to the ideals of a democratic society. The Northern Gateway pipeline, if approved, will have significant impacts on the air, water and land all Canadians share and rely on. That’s why it’s so important that the public be given every opportunity to voice their concerns about how the project will affect their lives.

We know what’s at stake. That’s why concerned Canadians refuse to back down and allow their fellow citizens to be shut out of a public process. Find out how you can follow the community hearings and get involved by visiting Pipe Up Against Enbridge. Or, get live updates as they happen below.

Technical hearings on the environmental impacts of the pipeline resume Feb. 3 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a focus on marine emergency preparedness and response plans. Ecojustice will be helping our clients, ForestEthics Advocacy, Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation, question witnesses from Enbridge and present evidence to ensure that the threats the proposed pipeline poses to our water, air and land are known and scrutinized.