VICTORIA, BC – Today, Dr. Andrew Weaver, MLA (Oak Bay-Gordon Head) and Deputy Leader of the BC Green Party and Elizabeth May, MP (Saanich-Gulf Islands) and leader of the Green Party of Canada held a joint press conference to review the federal and provincial issues at play in relation to new information received by the party.
“Documents obtained from Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reveal that at a time when core science is being cut across the Government of Canada, tax dollars are being spent to do Enbridge’s homework for them,” said Andrew Weaver.
The Federal Government is moving forward over the next two years with a $100 million plus, 'Complementary Measures Project' (now called 'World Class') to research and model the complex waterways in the Kitimat and Hecate Straights region. In essence this is a federal government subsidy to the Northern Gateway Project, as they are unable to satisfy basic safety, environmental and regulatory requirements. In fact documents from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans identified that: “Behaviour models specific to dilbit spills do not exist, and existing commercial models for conventional oil do not allow parameter specific modifications.”
On the federal level contrary to what Stephen Harper has said about awaiting the evidence and panel results, the Government of Canada has been pushing ahead with spending over $100 million to support what should be industry based research. This comes at a time of major cuts to science funding for climate change, marine contaminants and ELA.
In fact, documents show that the Government of Canada has been spending taxpayer’s money to support this project, going as far as to name the DFO’s work “the Northern Gateway Project”.
The BC Green Party and Andrew Weaver acknowledged that the BC Government had submitted a very thorough review of BC concerns to the NEB Joint Review Panel. “Today, we call on call on the BC Government to follow through on the concerns they raised in their JRP submission, “said Dr. Weaver. “In particular, we ask that Premier Christy Clark :
1: Give an emphatic no to the Northern Gateway Project without ‘needless delay’.
2: Given the evidence available today the BC Government should implement an immediate moratorium on heavy oil tankers in BC coastal waters.”
In the House of Commons, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has claimed that the federal government was waiting for the NEB panel’s advice. In fact, in answer to a question from Elizabeth May in June 6, 2013 Question Period, Stephen Harper said, “… the project in question, of course, is subject to a joint review panel process. Obviously, we believe in the rule of law and in adjudicating these things based on scientific and policy concerns. The government will obviously withhold its decision on the matter until we see the results of the panel and its work.” (emphasis added.)
“It appears to be an inescapable conclusion that the prime minister has misled the House,” said Ms. May. “If the project were approved, the spending on better weather forecasting along tanker routes and a developed understanding of how dilbit behaves in case of an oil spill would be minimum steps. Nevertheless, the project is not approved and tens of millions of dollars are being spent as though the process was a mere formality on the way to getting the dilbit boarded on super tankers through some of the most hazardous waters on earth.”
Interim BC Green Party leader Adam Olsen added, “British Columbians need to be very aware that the federal government is talking out of both sides of its mouth in claiming to be waiting for the results of the review. The BC government looked at the evidence and found Enbridge has not completed even rudimentary science to understand what dilbit does when it is spilled. It is shocking to find that Ottawa is using our tax dollars to help Enbridge win approval for a project most British Columbians oppose.”