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CONTRIBUTION · 2nd April 2012
MP Nathan Cullen - Smithers
It is very important that talks today aimed at resuming community hearings in Bella Bella for the Enbridge Joint Review Panel are successful, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said from Ottawa today.

“It would be very unfortunate if the panel leaves the community without hearing from residents who stand to be among the most affected by the huge volume of oil tanker traffic over the life of this project,” Cullen said.

Early this morning the JRP announced it had cancelled today’s community hearings in Bella Bella because of perceived “security concerns” stemming from a protest at the airport there yesterday. The JRP had been scheduled to sit four days in Bella Bella, beginning today. Heiltsuk First Nation and community leaders and JRP officials are meeting this hour to ensure the remaining three days of hearings go ahead as planned and how they will proceed.

“The hearings must resume, plain and simple,” Cullen said today. “People have a right to protest the project, as they have been since the JRP hearings began two months ago, without their actions being falsely framed as a security issue.”

Cullen noted all other JRP hearings in the Northwest, including the Rupert session at which he presented oral evidence, have drawn large crowds. He pointed out all events have been respectful and without incident. Nor were there any reports of security concerns from others at the Bella Bella airport yesterday, including North Coast MLA Gary Coons and the RCMP.

“Why shut things down in Bella Bella?” he asked. “What message is being conveyed to people who have the right to speak up?

“Let’s be realistic here, it’s the residents along the proposed pipeline route and coastal communities who really feel threatened, not the other way around,” said Cullen, who spoke with Heiltsuk Chief Marilynn Slett earlier today.

“We are facing a bully for a prime minister and a company that can't promise the Northwest what we need to survive - no oil pipeline accidents on the land and no tanker spills at sea.”
Only threat is from Ottawa
Comment by Karen Dedosenco on 3rd April 2012
I'm hearing comments from others who are speculating on whether this cancellation is a direct result of Harpers budget plans to force review processes through faster. From what I'm hearing, people are questioning whether someone from the PMO is interfering in the Enbridge hearings trying to convey a danger to the panelists in order to denegrate the process. It is interesting that the panelists never felt threatened before this and there has been a lot of respectful protesting in other locales.

The JRP panelists, IMO, would only feel threatened if they knew ahead of time that this process was flawed and being manipulated by the NEB and Harper's camp. If the process was legit the three would know they were totally welcome even in the face of strong opposition to the pipeline.

As it has been reported in the MSN Money News today that the hearings will now go ahead I'm thinking those behind the fear mongering didn't get the response they were hoping for. A NEB spokesperson explaned the delay as "concerns about logistics in Bella Bella, not security"! With such a feeble excuse one can clearly ascertain that we are not hearing the whole story.

I hope they reconsider about not hearing the missed speakers which " include more than half a dozen hereditary chiefs, elders and high-ranking women" as this was the panel's error and this issue is too important to not allow all those affected by Enbridge's proposal to have their say.

Exactly Nathan
Comment by Gary Edwards on 3rd April 2012
And as I mentioned in the Tyee the other day, it baffles me how a few students on a hunger strike can be construed as a security risk. I allege that the cancellation reasons were predetermined to prevent a segment of people from having their say. If they don'r get their 4 days then this panel is a bought and paid for farce. IMHO.