The Joint Panel Review Oral testimony hearings on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines in Comox, BC on August 10th showed an outstanding quality of presentations from the assembled speakers. Meanwhile, outside the hall, some Valley folks played "Let’s spill some oil"
– complete with tanker and tug.
In the panel room, the theatre continued, as the speakers spoke with logic and reason about their love of the coast and of salmon, the economic pitfalls of the pipelines, and outrage at the treatment of First Nations. With care and passion, speaker after speaker spoke against the pipeline, against oil tankers on the coast, and expressed their fear of the inevitable spills.
Peggy Zimmerman, a former environmental assessor herself, outlined for the panel why the project should be rejected
due to the unknowns – dilbit, terrain and company reputation.
Michael Stahnke, while speaking of the social discord the pipeline proposal will create in British Columbia, had his mike cut off as he quoted the words of Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs that First Nations would “go to the Wall” to stop the pipeline. Stahnke tried to explain to the Panel that this was not a threat, merely a quote, and the reality. Nonetheless he was only allowed to continue after he removed the references to the Grand Chief’s words. Stahnke nonetheless ended his presentation with the quotes from Stewart and the last words the audience heard were that the federal government will have to send in the army, before his mike was again cut. He received a standing ovation from the audience.
In the afternoon, Miranda Holmes, associate editor of the Watershed Sentinel, had the audience laughing and applauding as she introduced Dil Bit
to the Panel: “I'm hoping to be passing through British Columbia a lot in the future, so I thought I should introduce myself properly.”
During the last presentation, an activist strode into the room shouting, “This is a public meeting.” The security came running in, flashing a red card at the Panel, who shut down proceedings and hustled off into another room (actually, the rec centre kitchen). The audience then stood and burst into a robust and touching rendition of “O Canada.”
It seemed a fitting commentary on the need to protect our land and our nations, and could become the emblem of this struggle. Delores Broten, Editor, Watershed Sentinel