Sunday, August 18, 2013

Keep Your Mouth Shut

Clayton Ruby writes that the federal and Alberta governments want to pipe bitumen through Enbridge's already constructed 9B pipeline. They also want to increase the pipeline's capacity from 240,000 barrels a day to 300,000 barrels a day.

And, to make sure that the oil industry gets what it wants, the Harperites have made the approval process meaningless:

Until recently, any interested group or individual could comment on the merits of a pipeline project or any other project seeking approval from the NEB. But in 2012, the Harper government snuck in amendments to the National Energy Board Act through omnibus Bill C-38. They wiped out much of the legal protections for Canadian fish and fisheries. They turned the NEB from an independent decision-making body into one that merely advises the cabinet. Even that wasn’t enough. Harper wanted to silence critics, too.

These amendments to the National Energy Board Act gave the NEB the power to screen out members of the public and scientific community likely to bring up “irrelevant” issues like skyrocketing cancer rates in downstream communities, the poisoning of watersheds and the negative impact of the tarsands. Prospective applicants are actually told not to bother if they intend to make submissions about tarsands development.

Today, anyone who wishes to be heard must fill out a nine-page Application to Participate Form just to submit a letter of comment. The obvious goal is to reduce the number of people putting their concerns on the record. Requiring that people submit a nine-page application form just for the right to submit even a one-paragraph written comment creates a tremendous disincentive for participation. Successful completion of the form does not guarantee the right to participate. That right remains at the NEB’s sole discretion.
And it works! Before these changes designed to keep the critics silent were enacted, the NEB heard 1,544 oral or written submissions at the Northern Gateway hearings. Now, they will hear only 175.

You would think that after the Lac Megantic disaster, the powers that be would see trouble ahead and try to head off opposition by giving opponents a seat at the table. But this is the Harper government -- headed by an "economist" -- who didn't see The Great Recession coming.

This government is not gifted with foresight. But it does know how to tell people to shut up.


Anonymous said...

Just another day in Harperland.

Owen Gray said...

That's their message in a nutshell, Anon.

Lorne said...

I guess the message is simple, Owen: Prepare for more environmental despoliation, brought to you by Herr Harper.

Owen Gray said...

I can remember watching Lawrence Martin on the CBC years ago -- on the first occasion Harper prorogued Parliament, Lorne.

"The man has no conscience," Martin said. That judgement remains true today.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sociopaths have no conscience, Owen.

Owen Gray said...

Quite true, Mound, Unfortunately, they still get elected -- because they know how to game the system.

Anonymous said...

Harper was Policy Chief for his, Northern Foundation of 1989. To be a good Dictator, they have to be sociopaths. Normal people don't behave, as Harper does. The Dictators of the 30's and 40's, all had very similar personality's and characteristics.

Harper has not one, saving grace. Harper is evil, to the core. How anyone with self respect and decency, could ever support a monster such as Harper boggles me.

Owen Gray said...

Mr. Harper relies on support from people who are ruled by prejudice, Anon.

As long as he can get enough of those people to vote for him, he'll be in the driver's seat.

thwap said...

Somebody should do something about this guy!

Owen Gray said...

Absolutely, thwap. When he tells you to shut up, the only wise response is to shut him down.

Let's hope Canadians reach that conclusion by the time the next election rolls around.

He's not going to change. We'll have to change prime ministers.