The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Conservatives emphasize conditions, science around Northern Gateway pipeline

  • Print

OTTAWA - Conservatives are defending their government's approval of the contested Northern Gateway pipeline as based on science and evidence — while noting the project may never be built.

Government MPs and ministers were conspicuously absent late Tuesday when the approval was announced in a bureaucratic news release — evidence, NDP and Liberal critics crowed, that they feared the coming backlash.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford struck a dispassionate tone on the project, emphasizing it had gone through a rigorous review process that includes 209 conditions.

"The fact of the matter is that the government is acting on the advice of an independent scientific panel that thoroughly reviewed these matters," Harper said during question period.

"The government has applied the conditions demanded by that panel. It is now up to the proponent to assure the regulator going forward that it will indeed comply with those conditions."

Conservatives also point out that a federal panel recently rejected the New Prosperity mine project in B.C., a decision that wasn't similarly picked apart by the opposition.

But the science around the National Energy Board's joint review panel has been criticized by outside voices, and rejected outright by the opposition who say it was politicized and shaped by the Conservatives.

Earlier this month, 300 scientists and scholars signed an open letter urging Harper to reject the review panel's "flawed" findings, including its failure to consider the impact of greenhouse-gas emissions from Alberta's oilsands.

"Unless the public has a process in which it can have confidence, none of these projects can move forward," said NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, who has warned he would set aside the decision should his party form government.

"And that's what we've said about Northern Gateway since day one. The public simply could not have confidence in the process."

Despite the Conservative cabinet's decision to approve the project with the 209 conditions, there are still enormous hurdles to overcome — including gaining the support of dozens of aboriginal communities.

The general sense of uncertainty around Northern Gateway could account for the marked lack of enthusiasm the Conservatives are now showing for the project.

"British Columbians want jobs, they want growth, they want to show that we're protecting our environment and protecting our fisheries," said B.C. Conservative MP John Weston.

"Those are the things British Columbians are concerned about and the decision upholds those 209 conditions. It's a very tough job to complete any pipeline under those conditions."

Chris McCluskey, a spokesman for Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, noted on Twitter that the approval was conditional, calling the government's response a "maybe."

Other MPs said they don't fear being punished during the next federal election, noting that not everyone in B.C. is opposed to the pipeline.

"Some are, some aren't," said MP Mark Warawa.

"B.C. is a natural resource-rich province, and that's how we pay for education, health care — all of our social services are paid for by our natural resources."

That spin on the debate — that the Conservatives are the party in favour of natural-resource development and job creation — played itself out during question period.

"We are all familiar with the long history of the deep hostility of the former Trudeau government to everything in the western energy industry," Harper said, a reference to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau's unpopular National Energy Program.

And on Mulcair: "Once again, we are well aware of the NDP's opposition to all resource development and its view that all resource development is a disease on the economy."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

O'Shea says the team is going to stick to the plan after first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two Canada geese fly Wednesday afternoon at Oak Hammock Marsh- Front bird is banded for identification- Goose Challenge Day 3- - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Goslings enjoy Fridays warm weather to soak up some sun and gobble some grass on Heckla Ave in Winnipeg Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 DAY goose challenge - May 18, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should political leaders be highly visible on the frontlines of flood fights and other natural disasters?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google