Entries in first nations (1)


The National Energy Board Hearings

One of the most compelling aspects of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline (NGP) application is the public input piece. Done correctly, this “open, fair and transparent process” could go a long way to re-establish trust in government. 

The Joint Review Panel for the Enbridge NGP is an independent body, mandated by the Minister of the Environment and the National Energy Board. The Panel will assess the environmental effects of the proposed project and review the application under both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act.

The three member panel is saying all the right things: “Our job is to make sure that everyone who wants to talk to us about this project has an opportunity to be heard. We personally read and listen to all the information that's on the public record. This is the only information that we use when we reach our decisions. That's why it's so important that people become involved in this process."

It is here where the voices of Canadians, whose lives will be directly affected by the NGP are heard. Many of the voices are those of Canada’s First Nations. I have learned more about their history, culture, and daily lives listening to this testimony than from any curriculum, documentary, book, or newspaper.

It has become clear that the NGP is a symbol for the tension between two things Canadians value. There is a reason why Tim Horton’s commercials show kids on outdoor ice rinks in rural Canada, Toyota sells Hybrids driving through the forest, and we all long to travel to Newfoundland. Canadians have rocks, trees, nature, lakes, rivers in our blood. We are also as addicted to our cars and the mobility they give us as the rest of the world. We have now reached a time when these two values are in direct conflict. I’m sure Enbridge never saw it coming but the NGP has become the lightening rod for multiple complex modern dilemmas.

Hopefully, the Panel will take their concerns as seriously as all other stakeholders in the project. Failure to do so will force compliant Canadians few options for fighting the pipeline. We do value peace, order and good governance, but if the governance is perceived as not good, peace and order will not fall into place.

The decision we need to reach is whether or not this project is in the Canadian public interest. That means that we're asking ourselves whether or not Canadians would be better off with or without this project. Safety and protecting the environment are the top two goals of the National Energy Board.

The key question we need to debate is whether Canadians will be better off with or without this project.  How does one define “better off?” Will all Canadians be better off? What are the "Terms of Reference" for defining 'better off'?