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SpOIL: The Great Bear Rainforest Under Threat From Enbridge Pipeline


My weekend in Winnipeg ended with an evening at the Park Theatre listening to Nathan Cullen, an NDP Member of Parliament who is running for the leadership of his party. He and the other leadership candidates were in Winnipeg for an afternoon debate. Mr. Cullen painted a vivid picture of the people and the way of life in his riding, which is under threat by the proposed Enbridge pipeline. The pipeline to carry tar sands oil would cross over the pristine Great Bear Rainforest and put the entire coastline of northern B.C. under threat as the super tankers navigate the treacherous channel into Hartley Bay to get loaded up with 2,000,000 barrels of tar sands bitumen headed for a refinery in China. These tankers will carry ten times the volume of oil of the Exxon Valdez, which despoiled the coast further north 20 years ago. The people and the ecosystem still haven’t recovered from that spill.

Mr. Cullen also gave his audience a glimpse into the world of Ottawa under the Harper government. The powers of a Canadian Prime Minister are significant, and no other prime minister in Canadian history has exercised those powers in the iron-fisted manner of our current one. Mr Harper has gone to the extent of flouting Canadian law (his government is the only one in history to be found in contempt of Parliament. Harper also went ahead with his plans to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board after the Supreme Court ruled his government’s actions violated the rule of law). Mr. Cullen talked about what happens if he, or any other MP, attempt to access information or research generated by Canadian public servants working in a department of the federal government (Fisheries & Oceans, or Environment Canada, for example). If they follow what was the regular route prior to the Harper government, and call up and request it, the next thing that happens is that the MP making the request gets a call from the Prime Minister’s Office letting them know that they aren’t allowed to see this work, even though it has been generated at Canadian taxpayer’s expense. Talk about a chill on democracy!

Before Mr. Cullen spoke, the documentary Spoil was shown. Spoil won the Top Environmental Film award at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival last year. It tells the story of the First Nations people of Hartley Bay and the ecosystem that sustains them, physically and spiritually. Visually stunning, it follows several members of the International League Of Conservation Photographers as they gather images from this achingly beautiful part of the world. One can’t watch this movie and not recognize the insanity of our current Canadian federal government and its Fossil Fool buddies, who dismiss the risk involved in the Northern Gateway pipeline, as well as our fossil-fuel dependence in general. We are so close to realizing that Cree prophesy:

Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

Will it come to that?

Here is the entire movie, which is available both on Youtube and Vimeo. Please watch it, and share it. Then take action. As Mr. Cullen said, he and the other people of his riding who are standing up to the federal government and the fossil fuel industry need the help of other Canadians. We need to have their backs.


More links:

Pacific Wild: Take Action

Stop Tar Sands: Solutions

Dirty Oil The Dirt


3 Comments leave one →
  1. 2012/02/28 3:31 am

    One case is of that of Dr. Kristi Miller of the Department for Fisheries and Oceans, who published an article claiming that declining salmon stocks may be linked to a cancer-related virus. the government reportedly declined all requests to interview Miller.–is-the-conservative-government-muzzling-federal-scientists

    The Canadian government might also be afraid that if people start researching the Dept. for Fisheries and Oceans …. they might find information such as the one in the link below which shows a world wide depletion of many varieties of fish stock including salmon,

    • 2012/02/28 8:32 am

      Thanks for more great links, Donald. Certainly Dr. Duncan’s case is one of the most egregious examples of the current federal government’s silencing of dissent, but there is an across-the-board general chilling effect. Nathan Cullen also gave an example of an young Env Canada employee who blogged about climate change in his off hours, under a different name and without identifying himself as an Env Canada employee. However, at one point he was lead out the front door of the Env Canada office in handcuffs by the RCMP, apparently at the instigation of the government. The charges were dropped the next day, but the message was definitely sent to the unfortunate employee, and everyone else at Env Canada: criticize/disagree with this govt, and there will be consequences.

      • 2012/02/28 11:30 pm

        Most of the anti-democratic events that we see happening today are in one way or another interlinked to each other … somebody out there is pushing buttons in an attempt to destroy our democracies…… therefore to fight and die (or be jailed) in order to maintain the democratic principles that have made the nations of the free world what they are today is one of the greatest sacrifices any person can do for humanity.

        …for the sake of our children’s future … we need to fight back!!

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