Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Tuesday, June 1, 2010)

Rallying against Enbridge in Kitimat, Nathan Cullen explains his side of the MP spending debate and some on Haida Gwaii have questions about NaiKun, some of the items of interest for Tuesday's news cycle.

Prince Rupert Daily News, front page, headline story
FIVE HUNDRED PROTESTERS GATHERED AT KITIMAT RALLY -- Details of this past weekends rally against the plans of Enbridge to construct an oil pipeline and terminal to move Alberta Tar sands oil to world markets.

The return of the totem pole from Jasper Alberta to the Haida Nation was featured in Tuesday's paper, regular readers of our blog first heard of the plan a week ago when we outlined the details of the cross province trip aboard a special VIA trip which will see the ancient artifact  returned to the Islands later this month.

Another familiar item to our blog readers from last week can be found both in the Daily News and on the  Northern View website today, as Nathan Cullen outlined his thoughts on the recent ranking of high spending MP's which found the MP for Skeena Bulkley Valley in among the top five spenders in Ottawa.

The Daily's Tuesday Sports section featured a look at a Rupertite's experience at the Boston Marathon, as well as a report on the Prince Rupert Seamen Rugby squad.

(Daily News Archives for Tuesday, June 1, 2010)

Five Hundred protesters gathered at Kitimat rally
Ancient Haida pole repatriated
Smolt Festival a big hit with youngsters
A Federal riding the size of Poland
The Young and the helpful

The Northern View
MP discusses spending, budget-- Nathan Cullen, MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley outlines some of the challenges that serving a riding the size of Skeena can provide (see article here)

The Northern View
Northern Health gives community update-- Some background on the recent community update from Northern Health (see article here)

The Northern View
City unveils its nuisance property bylaw to mixed reaction-- The City's new nuisance property bylaw proves to be a discussion starter for the community (see article here)

The Northern View
Haida Gwaii group seeks investigation into NaiKun -- Potential conflict of interest concerns lead some residents of Haida Gwaii to seek an investigation into NaiKun's movement through the process for development of wind power in the region (see article here)

The Northern View
Cancellation of medical accommodation program postponed-- A reversal at Northern Health into a recent decision to end the medical accommodation program in the city, with the program's ending postponed pending further study (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Seaplane safety review launched -- In the wake of a seaplane crash over the weekend on Vancouver Island, British Columbia's seaplane fleets will be put under a safety review through the Transportation Ministry (see article here) (Sahar Nassimdoost provided this report for TV 7 News)

CFTK TV 7 News
Fate of Eurocan site still in limbo-- There is no word yet on progress or a solution to the closure of the Euroan Mill in Kitimat after Monday's meeting in that city between Eurocan Viability Group and officials with West Fraser (see article here) (see TV 7 report here)

CBC News Northern BC, Daybreak North
Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. 

The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here 

Daily News, front page, headline story
Five hundred protesters gathered at Kitimat rally
By George T. Baker 
Staff Writer 
Prince Rupert Daily News
Tuesday, June 1, 2010

 Led by Friends of Wild Salmon director and Haisla band councillor, Gerald Amos, and Gitga’at community leader, Clare Hill, numerous speakers took to the platform to discuss why they were against the project.

Once the more than 500 opponents of Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway project were past the Kitimat RCMP blockade, it was clear sailing on down to Kitamaat Village, where a troupe of speakers were on hand to lecture the converted about problems associated with the proposed tar sands pipeline project.

The transportation risks that include transporting tar sands oil to Kitimat from Bruderheim, AB through a 1,172-kilometre pipeline and the transporting of oil along the B.C. Pacific Northwest coast, opponents maintain, are too much to accept.

“What this fight is about is the unholy marriages of the governments of B.C. and Canada and multinational corporations,” said Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, who was on hand Saturday along with renowned scientist David Suzuki and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.

Phillip said that the Haisla territory he’d seen all day blew him away.

“You have such a beautiful, beautiful place and I know you will defend your territory with every fibre of your being. The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs will be there with you. The Penticton Band will be there with you,” Phillip promised a crowd that awarded him a standing ovation.

The Joint Review Panel, which will review the project’s effect on the environment and the socio-economic impact on the communities that live within the pipeline’s route, has already received a record number of submissions and comments on the project, most of them negative.

Art Sterritt, the executive director of Coastal First Nations, which was once ‘Turning Point’, said his organization has invested $300 million in trying to evolve the economy in the Northwest. He said all the work put forth by his group could be washed away with one spill.

Sterritt, who was instrumental in persuading the B.C. government to protect the 64,000 square km area known as the Great Bear Rainforest, said the forest represents 25 per cent of the remaining temperate rainforest in the whole world.

 “The threat that we have before us is the most dire we have ever faced,” he warned.

 While the protests mount, Enbridge has made many attempts to persuade the public that their project is safe and to show how they would react in the case of a spill on either land or water.

 The $5.5 billion project would begin to open up Asian markets for Canada’s tar sands industry after its scheduled completion date in 2016. The majority of oil sands oil is consumed in the U.S., and is projected to become the largest single source of the U.S.’s crude oil this year, according a recent study by consulting firm Cambridge Energy Research Associates. The oil transportation giant has sent out a brochure to locals living in the Northwest to inform them of the company’s view on how the project will be environmentally sound and good for the regional economy.

Enbridge claims that over 200 environmental experts and scientists conducted a comprehensive analysis along the project route in areas such as marine biology, soil, vegetation, wildlife, water resources, fish, human health, archeology, and others.

The company has also committed, though the brochure, to a public consultation program that is designed to provide information about the project, identify issues, listen to concerns and answer questions, obtain input into environmental, economic and community benefits.

But outside of comments made by CEO Pat Daniel to the Globe and Mail and National Post, that painted project opponents as hypocrites because of their own reliance on oil products, the company has been careful about when it answers questions from the media.

The parking lot at the Haisla Community Centre was filled with cars, quite a few of them older model, gas eating pick-up trucks, used by visitors from as far away as Prince Rupert and residents of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Territories in eastern B.C.

Amos did not dispute that there were some uncomfortable environmental issues that opponents will have to acknowledge and change. But he said it didn’t take away from why they fundamentally oppose the project. “His comments were totally irresponsible and out of hand,”
Amos criticized Daniel. 

“We accept some responsibility for our own environmental challenges. We know that eco-tourism that we do, when you include the flights to our area, and the drive from the airport, and the energy needed to keep us warm, that we can’t really call it eco. But what Pat Daniel is proposing is a project that will make us more reliant on dirty oil.” 

Amos was asked if he had spoken the CEO lately. He said he hadn’t. But an hour before he spoke with the Daily News, he and Eric Swanson of the Dogwood Initiative, a Victoria-based environmental organization that is also opposed to the project, made a call to Daniel’s answering machine. When the machine picked up, at least 200 people screamed “We Say No to Enbridge Oil.”

There were no visible representatives of Enbridge at the daylong event, but Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan, who is a supporter of the project, and Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem, who has yet to take a strong position either way on the matter, were both on hand.

With the spectre of British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Exxon Valdez spill 21 years ago in Alaska, representatives of First Nations on the North Coast said they have not shifted positions on the project and were very unlikely to do so.

The two mayors, along with a filled gymnasium, heard no positive words on the project. “The Americans have a reliable, first class response and they still could not respond to the devastation in the Gulf,” said Lax Kw’alaams representative James Bryant.

Bryant said that Canada’s capacity for even a large-scale human rescue mission on the West Coast has not been up to snuff in the past. He wasn’t sure that oil would receive better treatment. He would like to see the federal government pay for a complete coastal community emergency training before any pipeline is okayed.

“When the Queen of the North – which is still leaking oil - sank, if it wasn’t for the people of Hartley Bay, it would have been a major disaster.”

The Mayors did hear the opponents’ dogged commitment to remain opposed.

“We will do our best to take a stand,” said Haisla elected Chief Councillor Delores Pollard. “We are not only fighting a multinational corporation, but also two levels of government who want to turn a blind eye. But they have a responsibility, too.”

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