Ten Questions for my MP, Joe Oliver

by Franke James

When the Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, told the media on January 27th, that he’d be willing to meet with environmental groups if only they’d ask… I asked!

I sent my letter by email and fax. I also posted it on the web. A few weeks passed by. So, I sent a second letter, a green Valentine.

And I got the meeting. It took place on Saturday March 3rd at Joe Oliver’s riding office. Whatever you think of politicians, you have to give Joe credit for working weekends.

We covered a lot of ground. I had 10 questions for him about the Northern Gateway Pipeline, the Oil Sands, First Nations rights and even his Green Conscience. I’ll be sharing his answers in a few posts and also a visual essay about the Northern Gateway Pipeline, but here are some of the questions I asked:

1. What bothers your green conscience?

2. Why are we selling our oil to China when half of Canada is dependent on oil from foreign countries?
(43% of Canada is buying oil from foreign countries. Those volatile countries could cut our oil supply…)

3. The pipeline is all about risk versus reward. There’s trillions of dollars in rewards for Alberta and the oil industry but B.C. would be taking most of the risk.

  • Nathan Cullen says that the $140 million dollar wild salmon economy would be totally threatened if not ruined by a spill.
  • The B.C. coastline has had a 40 year ban on tankers because the waters are so treacherous and hard to navigate.
  • The Douglas Channel is skinny. The zigzag route involves many hairpin turns tricky for tankers.
  • 4. The Northern Gateway site has a figure of $1.2 billion in tax revenue to B.C. over 30 years… But the rewards for B.C. and First Nations could be wiped out with just one spill.

    The Exxon Valdez cost more than $9 billion to clean up, and Exxon only paid about $3 billion of that. Taxpayers were on the hook for the other $6 billion. (The large tankers can carry more than 8 times the oil that the Exxon Valdez carried.)

    5. Who pays if there’s a tanker spill or pipeline rupture? I brought this Living Oceans Fact Sheet with me.

    6. Would you let your family eat the fish or drink the water from the Athabasca River?

    7. Why is Environment Canada keeping it a secret that the Athabasca River is polluted from oil sands mining?
    Dr. Schindler in 2010 articles cited evidence of extreme pollution near oil sands.

    8. Aren’t Canadian taxpayers (and oil company shareholders) at risk from class action lawsuits re: Athabasca River pollution?

    9. Will Canada respect First Nations right to decide about the pipeline crossing their land?
    (First Nations filed a complaint with the UN concerning racism that pipeline violates international law.)

    10. First Nations and Environmentalists are listed as adversaries to the Harper Govt. How do you propose turning this around?

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