Let’s be honest, Adrian Dix didn’t lose the election because he flip-flopped on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline. He just flopped as a candidate for premier.
I say that with all due respect; I like Dix and wanted him to win. I publicly supported his campaign and actively organized for some very principled and capable NDP candidates. I was happy the party took such a strong stance against the Enbridge pipeline and was going to pull out of the federal joint-review-panel process. It lets Prime Minister Stephen Harper decide upon receipt of an environmental-assessment report with recommendations about the project. (There’s more below on how we can stop him.)
The truth is that Dix didn’t take a position on Kinder Morgan before the election, and he never really took a clear position during the election either. That’s not a flip-flop, but it was directionless leadership and that was the real problem. Where was the passionate defence of the Fraser River watershed, or the children in school yards with a toxic pipeline running under them, or the jobs that depend on a healthy and beautiful coast? Where was the vision for a better and greener economy, like the inspiring ideas presented by U.S. green-jobs advocate Van Jones in his keynote speech at the party’s last convention?
The spin we are hearing these days is that taking a position on Kinder Morgan cost the NDP the election, and the result of the election means that there is now a mandate for pipelines in the province. That is simply not true. Both parties went into the election opposing the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, which was a much-higher-profile campaign up until then.
The truth is, if anyone is flip-flopping on pipelines, it’s Premier Christy Clark. Her rhetoric has changed so many times that the image of a sockeye salmon on the deck of a fishing boat comes to mind. During the election, she ran full-page ads with pictures of the coast, saying she would “stand up for B.C.”, and not long after that her government formally opposed the pipeline in its official submission to the joint review panel. But this month, she has announced a “framework agreement” with the premier of Alberta, Alison Redford, that many see as a pathway to approving pipelines.
To make things worse, Clark is flip-flopping on climate change. The B.C. government joined with the governors of Washington, Oregon, and California to sign an agreement a couple of weeks ago reaffirming B.C.’s commitment to science-based targets for greenhouse-gas reductions and an action plan to move toward alternatives.
We have a critical role to play on the west coast as the gateway to the Asia Pacific. We are stewards of this land and we are gatekeepers of this trade route. In the era of climate change, the eyes of the world are on us to be part of reducing fossil-fuel dependence instead of making it worse through the tar sands, coal, and fracking.
The “No Enbridge” rally this Saturday (November 16) comes at a vitally important moment. A decision on Enbridge’s proposed pipeline is looming before the end of next month. The Enbridge pipeline is not only one of the most irresponsible schemes ever proposed in this province, it also has become a symbol for so much more. This is about the power of people over giant, arrogant corporations that have too much influence on our governments. It’s about the rights of indigenous people and healing the wounds of past injustices. It’s about taking a stand to stop the “gateway to global warming”.
It has been said that politicians give permits but, ultimately, the people give the permission. Let’s make sure Harper and Clark and all the candidates who want to replace them know that they don’t have our consent to build these pipelines. Let’s make it clear that saying no to Enbridge is as black-and-white as the orcas it threatens. It even threatens grey whales.
We know a better world is possible, and we are getting organized to make it a reality. This campaign is becoming the Clayoquot Sound of our generation. Be there and bring your friends.