Thursday, May 07, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Boarding the bus to protest in Terrace, adding up the numbers at the Port and the pressing questions of the campaign show up once again in the Wednesday Daily News.

RUPERT CITIZENS SUPPORT RALLY AGAINST PIPELINES-- Wednesday's front page headline story outlines the local residents who took a bus to Terrace to protest against a planned pipeline through the Skeena riding near Terrace and Kitimat. A bus load of Rupertites arrived in Terrace to offer their support to the Wet'suwe'ten protest outside the Enbridge offices on Tuesday. (full article can be found below)

Elsewhere in the paper, the latest shipment numbers from the Port corporation were examined, numbers which see a rise in shipments from the first quarter of 2008 to 2009 in container traffic, but decreases in the commodity shipments at Ridley Island as coal in particular took a heavy hit in shipments in the first four months of 2009.

The pressing question of the campaign for Wednesday asked local candidates if the North coast or Northwest region needs a detox and rehabilitation centre. We outline their responses elsewhere on this blog.

On the sports page the track and field season is underway with training taking place for the upcoming Panhandle Games, details on those preparations as well as a preview of the Mr. and Mrs. Golf tournament were featured in the sports section.

Total pages in Wednesday's edition (18)

Front page, headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Pages one and three

A bus of forty Rupertites made their way to Terrace to have their voices -heard on a large issue that looms over the Skeena riding battle.

The doors to Enbridge's office across the street from the rally Tuesday remained closed as a rally, organized by the Wet'suwe'ten, protested the Calgary-based oil pipeline company's proposed $4.5 billion project for the northern energy corridor.

The closing of the doors was odd - given that on the door the office said it was open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

But while Enbridge staff perhaps forgot to show up Tuesday to work. the company's Northern Gateway project has not been forgotten during the provincial election, as evidenced by its mention here on the North Coast and yesterday at a rally in Terrace.

For the political contestants, there can be no doubt that having a position of some sort will be important as voters in the Skeena head to the voting polls on Tuesday.

It is clear that Skeena NDP incumbent, Robin Austin, stands behind the BC NDP platform on backing the unwritten moratorium on tanker traffic.

"There has been a crude oil tanker moratorium for 25 years and its been referred to in the parliament of Canada, by many different prime ministers, from many {different parties;" said Austin, who attended the rally at George little Park, near the downtown district in Terrace.

In 1972 the Federal Government did impose a moratorium to prevent crude oil tankers traveling through Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait, and Queen Charlotte Sound en route from the Trans Alaska pipeline terminal at Valdez Alaska.

This moratorium was directed at Alaskan oil, and a Provincial moratorium on BC offshore oil and Gas exploration and drilling soon followed.

While there will be thousands of jobs created during the 30 month construction period, few permanent jobs will be created, perhaps 50 in Kitimat and a handful of workers along the route in a few communities.

The 1,170 kilometre pipeline is proposed to carry oil from the Alberta oil sands to Kitimat where it will be exported to Asia and California.

Austin told the Daily News that he opposed the pipeline project because of the risks it held for local salmon fishing on both the Skeena river and Douglas channel, two major bodies of water that reside in his riding.

Austin said support for the moratorium on tanker traffic would pretty much squash bitumen oil pipeline proposals, as it would prohibit the transportation of oil from Alberta to either Asian or Californian markets, the two proposed targets for Canada's controversial oil.

As the incumbent, Austin has a decided advantage of knowing what issues play in the riding but he does have a challenger in BC liberal Donny van Dyk

Van Dyk opted to not take part in the rally but did share his thoughts with the Daily News on the project and the economic future of the Northwest.

"I would be definitely in favour of any economic development as long as it is environmentally friendly and it can be shown to be environmentally friendly, which is one of the key reasons to the community consultation and environmental assessment process," said van Dyk.

Joining the two Skeena candidates, two North Coast candidates weren't far behind on the platform theatrics, as both incumbent MLA Gary Coons and Green party candidate Lisa Girbav showed up for the rally.

Coons said he was concerned because members of his riding worried about the impact the project would have on their lives.

"I find that just because Gordon Campbell coffers are filled by oil corporate donors, he still has to follow the mandate set towards him by Northern British Columbians," said Coons.

Girbav said for her the rally represented a more personal issue and that she was not there only as a Green Party member but as a member of the North Coast.

"There are better ways to stimulate the economy," said Girbav, who then echoed her speech at the all-candidates forum last week. "The price of oil is going- to go up, so we should sit on it."

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