Opinion: China deal and budget sacrifice democracy

Why would government and industry resort to such extreme measures to push Enbridge Gateway pipeline through?

Why, when so many people oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, would government and industry resort to such extreme measures to push it through?

The problems with the plan to run pipelines from the Alberta tar sands across northern B.C. to load unrefined, diluted bitumen onto supertankers for export to China and elsewhere are well-known: threats to streams, rivers, lakes and land from pipeline leaks.

The danger of contaminated ocean ecosystems from tanker spills; rapid expansion of the tar sands; and the climate change implications of continued wasteful use of fossil fuels.

The benefits aren’t as apparent. Some short-term and fewer long-term jobs, possibly for foreign workers, and increased profits for the oil industry – including state-owned Chinese companies – are all we’re being offered in exchange for giving up our resources, interests and future, putting ecosystems at risk, and forfeiting due democratic process.

Our government is ramming through another omnibus budget bill, and is set to sign a deal with China, both of which seem aimed at facilitating the pipeline and other resource-extraction projects. Its first budget bill gutted environmental protection laws, especially those that might obstruct pipeline plans.

The recent 457-page omnibus budget bill goes even further. Among other changes, it revises the Navigable Waters Protection Act (renamed the Navigation Protection Act) to substantially reduce waterways that must be considered for protection and exempt pipelines from regulations.

Meanwhile, the government is set to sign a 31-year deal on Oct. 31 that will give China’s government significant control over Canada’s resources and even over Canadians’ rights to question projects like Northern Gateway.

The Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement would allow China to sue Canada, outside of our borders and behind closed doors, if the pipeline deal were blocked or China’s interests in our resource industry hindered – for example, if the B.C. government were to stop Northern Gateway.

It also gives the Chinese state-owned companies “the right to full protection and security from public opposition,” as well as the right to use Chinese labour and materials on projects in which it has invested.

According to author and investigative journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, writing for The Tyee, “The deal does not require provincial consent. It comes without any risk-benefit analysis. And it can be ratified into law without parliamentary debate.”

Why would anyone want to sell out our interests, democratic processes and future like this? And why would we put up with it?

On the first question, Gus Van Harten, an international investment law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, told Desmog Blog we must consider the possibility that government and industry know that changes in attitudes about fossil fuel extraction “may lead to new regulations on the oil patch, in that, climate can’t just be wished away forever, and that governments might take steps to regulate the oil patch in ways that investors wouldn’t like.”

He continues, “If you bring in a lot of Chinese investments, and you sign the Canada investment deal, you kind of get the Chinese investors to do your dirty work for you.”

In other words, as the world recognizes the already extreme and increasing consequences of global warming and shifts from wastefully burning fossil fuels to conservation and renewable energy, tar sands bitumen may soon become uneconomical.

The goal is to dig it up, sell it and burn it as quickly as possible while there’s still money to be made.

It’s cynical and suicidal, but it’s the kind of thinking that is increasingly common among those who see the economy as the highest priority – over human health and the air, water, soil and biodiverse ecosystems that keep us alive.

— David Suzuki and Ian Hanington

See www.davidsuzuki.org.

 

Just Posted

Metchosin construction site closed for police investigation

Closure believed to be linked to something found at DND site

West Shore RCMP sees spike in car crashes in recent months

ICBC campaign puts onus on drivers to fix bad habits

Car fanatics get set for Langford’s Show and Shine

Hundreds of cars to line downtown streets Sunday

Federal government announces over $115 million to Royal Canadian Navy

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was at CFB Esquimalt to announce missile system upgrades

New 84-unit seniors housing in Saanich constructed to Built Green standards

Mount Doug Manor an example of Built Green on a big scale

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

RCMP nab prolific car thief after month-long, B.C.-wide search

A province-wide warrant was issued for Brian Robert Stephan in June for a litany of offences

First long-awaited Cyclone lands near Victoria airport

Military helicopter first of nine to come to Saanich Peninsula base

Court sides with developer in Jumbo ‘substantially started’ dispute

Resort developer successfully argues 2014 decision that halted the project was unfair

Canada’s tax system unfairly favours wealthy, poll of CRA auditors suggests

Four of every five respondents think loopholes and tax credits built into the system benefit the rich

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

The plan would allow for more visitors but wouldn’t let Sunshine build additional facilities

Conditions improve for battling northwest B.C. wildfires, minister says

‘Self-evacuated’ people fleeing smoke advised to go home

Most Read