It’s time to fish or cut bait, Premier Clark!
Our esteemed contributor Otto Langer blew it wide open when he, using a leaked document, stated that under the Harper government the protection of fish habitat would no longer be enforced against industry and that it would use an “omnibus bill” to try to sneak it through.
An omnibus bill is used to make technical changes to support major legislation. A budget will usually need amendments in various statutes and that’s natural. It might also be used to make clear provisions causing confusion in statutes. It is not intended to bring in substantive changes, thus is not usually debated. When that bill is in fact designed to make a substantial change the government shows its moral turpitude big time.
The proposal to take protection of habitat out of the Fisheries Act was especially dishonourable because at first glance it looked as if the government was taking extra care to protect salmon - but the eagle eye of Otto quickly saw it for what it was and now the fat is in the fire.
The Vancouver Sun, which has suddenly got religion, got a document through the Access To Information Act which showed that the Tories considered habitat protection as a significant “irritant” for development.
The Minister, Keith Ashfield, lamented in the House Wednesday that a jamboree in Saskatchewan last year was almost cancelled because a flooded field contained fish. This speaks volumes for this government – to trivialize the huge assault on habitat in this way shows that the federal government couldn’t care less about BC’s fish.
There is no doubt that Ottawa has the Enbridge pipeline in mind.
The critical question is one that a grade 1 student would ask: if you don’t protect where fish live what’s the point of the other protections?
The answer is, of course, that there’s no point at all. The Enbridge pipeline will cross 1,000 rivers and streams stripped bare of protection. Sensible civic bodies won’t allow building close to rivers and streams while the government will not “inconvenience industry”.
Let me tell you with certainty what two premiers, from each major party would have done with this – I refer to Dave Barrett and Bill Bennett, who will be horrified to be named together in the same sentence, such was the acrimony of their relationship.
They would have said “BC habitat and the environment in general in BC is not for sale," and then would have had the Attorney to tell them the way to stop it.
His first answer would have undoubtedly been - make it clear that BC will use it’s constitutional right to protect it’s coast and ban all oil tankers. This would end the matter since there’s no point transporting oil when it cannot use a BC port and BC’s coast to take it away. Game Over.
It would be unwise, of course, not to go for the head of the snake, Enbridge while we’re at it.
BC has a shared environment jurisdiction and under this could protect non-migratory fish and place a habitat protection zone around all of the 1000 rivers and streams to be crossed by Enbridge. I have no doubt they could also protect the animals that use the area by setting up preserves.
Let’s cut to the chase here: this will no doubt bring lawsuits which I say all the better – by the time the matters make their way slowly and unsteadily through the courts, including appeals on rulings, Enbridge will have to make a move somewhere.
Barrett and Bennett would have said we will use our powers to prevent tanker traffic on our coast and, if the Enbridge people get their way, then we will bring the Coast Protection Act in.
Why wait for the Enbridge decision?
That would delay the start of any litigation on that initiative so that time absorbed in court re: the pipeline would have finally passed and a new court case started. In other words, the cases would not be concurrent but consecutive.
Is it ethical to use these tactics?
Of course it is – the unethical people are the feds. We would simply be protecting of our glorious province which Premier Clark and her caucus are sworn to do. Buying time is perfectly proper.
What should Premier Clark do?
Simple – state that the foregoing is the position British Columbia will take and it would be wise both in moral, legal, and fiscal terms to give Enbridge the hook now.
Premier Clark is in a lot of trouble and this move could only benefit her because it would leave John Cummins as the only party in favour of the Enbridge/tanker traffic plan and would clearly leave him with only Fraser Institute bred and fed hard right wingers which Clark has lost anyway.
I’m willing to bet the ranch that she hasn’t got the guts to stand up to the Feds. Much of this cowardice relates to the money BC has to return to Ottawa under the bungled HST fiasco.
At this point we must go after the snake's head, thus a very good time to demand protection of the province by our federal Tory MPs - to remind them and demand that they represent our interests not those of Enbridge.
As a bit of assistance - here they are:
Ed Fast Abbotsford firstname.lastname@example.org
Dick Harris - Cariboo - Prince George Harris.R@parl.gc.ca
Mark Strahl - Chilliwack - Fraser Canyon email@example.com
Kerry Lynne Findlay - Delta - Richmond East MP Kerry-Lynne.Findlay@parl.gc.ca
Nina Grewal - Fleetwood - Port Kells Grewal.N@parl.gc.ca
Cathy McLeod - Kamloops - Thompson - Cariboo McLeod.C@parl.gc.ca
Ron Cannan - Kelowna - Lake Country firstname.lastname@example.org
David Wilks - Kootenay - Columbia David.email@example.com
Mark Warawa - Langley Warawa.M@parl.gc.ca
James Lunney - Nanaimo - Alberni Lunney.J@parl.gc.ca
Andrew Saxton - North Vancouver Saxton.A@parl.gc.ca
Dan Albas - Okanagan - Coquihalla http://www.danalbas.com/contact-dan.html
Colin Mayes - Okanagan - Shuswap Mayes.C@parl.gc.ca
Randy Kamp - Pitt Meadows - Maple Ridge - Mission Kamp.R@parl.gc.ca
James Moore - Port Moody - Westwood - Port Coquitlam Moore.J@parl.gc.ca
Bob Zimmer - Prince George - Peace River Bob.Zimmer@parl.gc.ca
Alice Wong - Richmond Wong.A@parl.gc.ca
Russ Hiebert - South Surrey - White Rock - Cloverdale Info@RussHiebert.ca
John Duncan - Vancouver Island North Duncan.J@parl.gc.ca
Wai Young - Vancouver South firstname.lastname@example.org
Weston - West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea to Sky Country Weston.J@parl.gc.caview