Trudeau orders tanker ban on B.C.’s north coast

Northern Gateway remains committed to building their pipeline despite the ban.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau has asked his ministers to formalize a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s north coast, a ban that could jeopardize the Northern Gateway Pipeline project.

The Coastal First Nations (CFN), an alliance of First Nations on B.C.’s north coast, has commended Trudeau’s directive for the moratorium.

“It is another strong signal that Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline will not go forward,” said CFN President Marilyn Slett. “We hope that this finally puts an end to Northern Gateway Pipeline.”

However, Northern Gateway and project proponents said they remain committed to building the proposed pipeline despite the ban, according to Northern Gateway’s Communications Manager Ivan Giesbrecht.

“We are looking forward to an opportunity to sit down with the new prime minister and his cabinet to provide an update on the progress of our project and our partnerships with First Nations and Métis people in Alberta and B.C.,” said Giesbrecht. “We share the vision of the Trudeau government that energy projects must incorporate

world-leading environmental standards and First Nations and Métis ownership.”

Enbridge Inc. proposes the construction of a 1200-km twin pipeline that would carry diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to B.C.’s coast, passing directly through Burns Lake. In June, 2014, the Canadian government approved the $7-billion project, but imposed 209 conditions recommended by the National Energy Board.

Tim McMillan, President of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, told the Calgary Herald that his group opposes a tanker ban.

“Any barrier to our ability to get products to market is a problem for Canada,” he said.

Northern Gateway released a statement saying the company is confident the federal government will be embarking on the required consultation with First Nations and Metis in the region, “given the potential economic impact a crude oil tanker ban would have on those communities and Western Canada as a whole.”

Northern Gateway also recognizes they still have more work to do in establishing respectful dialogues and achieving improved relationships with First Nations and Métis peoples.

In October 2015, eighteen lawsuits against Northern Gateway – launched by a collection of First Nations, environmental groups and a labour union – were presented in the federal court of appeal in Vancouver. The litigation hearing concluded Oct. 8, 2015, with judges reserving their decision on whether to sustain or quash the government’s approval of the project.

First Nations chiefs in the Burns Lake area – Wet’suwet’en First Nation chief Karen Ogen, Lake Babine Nation chief Wilf Adam and Burns Lake Band chief Dan George – have said they strongly oppose this project.

Speaking in Ottawa on June 17, 2014, Trudeau promised that if he “won the honour of serving as prime minister, the Northern Gateway Pipeline would not happen.”

“The Northern Gateway Pipeline threatens not only the B.C. coastal economy but the jobs of thousands of people who live on the ocean,” said Trudeau. “I’ve met with many British Columbians who make their living out of the pristine coastal waters; it is not a place for a pipeline.”