While Enbridge continues moving forward with the Joint Review Panel process, which will undoubtedly provide answers to some of the numerous questions people have about the project, I just don’t see how this project moves forward – with or without government approval.
Yes Stephen Harper and the majority Conservative government are supporters of the project in terms of opening new markets to Canadian energy.
But if the rally on Thursday evening proved anything it is this: People in the northwest, where the project poses the most risk, are not only extremely passionate about stopping this project but there is perhaps nothing in the past several years that has united the people than this proposed pipeline.
People chartered busses or drove hundreds of kilometres to participate in the protest, not a small feat given that it took place during the work week, and First Nations from throughout the region banded together to say “we will not let this happen”. And it would be easier to dismiss the protest as nothing more than environmentalist posturing were it not for the wide variety of people in attendance. Speakers during the event included elementary, high school and college youth, working class people representing a broad spectrum of ages, Hereditary Chiefs, seniors and the elected officials from both the provincial and federal level.
Even if the government grants approval, which is a possibility even in the face of such opposition, don’t expect either residents of the region to just lay down and accept it. In fact, expect the opposition to only increase to make the inevitable no longer viable through the courts or on the ground.
I keep going back to an ad from the 2010 ANT guide quoting different Chiefs indicating they would take whatever means needed to stop the project. The one that really stands out to me is:
“I’m not going to say we’ll be affected because there is no damn way it’s going to happen”.
That quote is attributed to Haida Nation president Guujaaw, who has shown how powerful and effective a united voice and passionate opposition can be when it comes to protecting the land and environment.