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My Presentation to the Pipeline Review Panel, Jan. 8, 2013
Jeremy Arney, Victoria BC
First I would like to acknowledge the Songhees Tribe on whose traditional territory we are today, and secondly to acknowledge my friend, supporter and fellow human being here with me today Earl Claxton Junior of the Saanich Tribe, who told me that he felt compelled to be here with me today.
My name is Jeremy Arney and I thank you for hearing me. I came to Canada from England in 1967 and my first wife and I put down roots here in Victoria. I have travelled North America extensively as a truck driver and have to say that the northern BC I travelled, often on gravel roads back then, was spectacular to say the least. I last visited the tar sands north of Fort McMurray in 1989 and was amazed at the size; now I am appalled at that huge toxic scar upon the earth.
Earl’s main worry is that if the treaties with the first nations’ peoples all along this pipeline route are going to be ignored, how long will it be before the Douglas Treaty with his people is ignored and broken too. I share his concern.
It has been requested that our testimony should not be on ideological grounds, and this seems to me to be imminently unfair as the entire project these hearings are about is based solely on the ideology of making money for shareholders with little regard for the land, waters and ocean which will be destroyed.
The history of the company wishing to build this pipe line does not inspire confidence that it is capable of maintaining a safe pipeline for the dilbit, or diluted bitumen, that it wishes to transport from Alberta to the port of Kitimat. In a way, this was borne out by the announcement from the federal Minister of Resources that we, the taxpayers, will be spending $163 million on developing a new pipeline technology to be in place for this line. Why is that? Is it because he knows this company is not capable of doing it themselves, either financially or practically, and so we must do it? Why must we spend that kind of money when we will still get the bill for cleaning up their inevitable mess whilst they will still make a profit? Not one penny (of taxpayers’ money), say I! It is their pipeline and their cost to ensure the best or go home.
The advertisements seen over and again on television show that the company is only too willing to mislead by suggesting that the terrain for this pipeline is flat, with only a few trees, a river or two and no mountains, and that islands do not exist in the narrow channels between Kitimat and the Pacific Ocean. Even my 10- and 12-year-old grandsons, who know where I am today and why, have pointed this out to me, saying they had checked with Google maps and couldn’t understand why any company could make such claims on TV. [A good point I must raise with the Television Bureau of Canada who are supposed to approve all advertisements on TV for truth.]
This only emphasizes the inability of the project instigator to be honest and truthful to those it wishes to influence into support for their project.
I understand, from the Minister Oliver’s dictate as a result of all those ‘US-backed radicals’ who wanted to address this review panel, that only those who are directly impacted by the project should be allowed to speak at panels like this in future, and so let me explain to you why I fall into that category.
This particular Canadian government is constantly referring to democracy and particularly to Canadian democracy, which by definition means that the people govern the country through their representatives, who in turn represent their needs to the common government. It is the people’s needs that are fulfilled in a democracy. So when the people are excluded from something happening within their jurisprudence, which they overwhelming do not support, then democracy is dead. It is the responsibility for all of us to ensure this does not happen any more than it already has under this government.
This does not mean corporations cannot make money for their shareholders, but it does mean they have to be responsive to the peoples’ wishes. It is up to us to stop the galloping consumerism to feed the false god called GDP. Measures of success should include the earth, our happiness, family life and health, not an accountant’s measure of debt.
In this particular case, the people who will suffer the most from the inevitable spills are those people who have been charged by their creator to look after the land, oceans, rivers, streams, forests, fish and wildlife and have done so successfully for thousands of years. They had done a remarkable job of doing just that long before we came here a relatively few years ago and tried, in our arrogance, to teach them a better way. Their very way of life will be turned upside down, once again, as their traditional lands and waters turn black from spilled tar, and the release of toxic gases from the evaporating condensate will poison them.
The Cree Nation have a saying from the 19th century about the white invaders which I think is apropos to this government and situation.
“Only when the last tree has died, and the last fish has been caught, and the last river has been poisoned, will they realize that money cannot be eaten".
This Canadian government is trying to impose a corpocracy on our First Nations peoples – and all the people of BC and Canada for that matter, including my own grandchildren, and a great grandson now as well. A corpocracy run largely by foreign corporations who are now trying to dictate what will happen here in BC to our land and ocean for their own financial profit. We will inevitably be responsible for any clean up because to these companies 10% cleanup is success. To the First Nations peoples along this pipeline route and almost everyone in BC that is absolutely unacceptable.
I have recently learned that there is another option being discussed and that is to use rail to transport this bitumen either to Prince Rupert, or through the Yukon into Alaska to Valdez. This would be a whole lot better from an environmental point of view (hydro electric diesel exhaust versus the hydro need to heat the dilbit and run the pumps) and also has, I understand, the tentative backing of those First Nations along the route. They would expect jobs building the track, and running the rolling stock, and any spills would be solid cold hard bitumen without condensate in rail tankers which in the event of a derailment or accident would just churn up the earth, not poison it.
Provided the locomotives and rail cars are made in Canada by Canadians, what a boost to our manufacturing sector as well.
From a BC perspective, it would make even more sense if we still had BC rail though wouldn’t it? Profit to the people of BC not the CN private corporation. Modern version of Wacky (W.A.C.) Bennett where are you?
It has been suggested that this panel is irrelevant as this Prime Minister and his cabinet will override any negative decision you should make against this project because it has been promised to China, and I truly hope that is not the case.
When the number of people who have wanted to speak to you, almost all of whom, like I, are unfunded, because they sincerely believe that this project is not good for the environment, the people who live along the route nor for BC, I would suggest that they should be respected – as I am sure you have and will continue to do. And when you turn in your report, as I believe you must turning down this project as an inevitable environmental catastrophe, if the cabinet still decides to go ahead anyway, then you will have done your job of listening to we the people, and it will be our turn to take matters into our own hands, and restore democracy to Canada for the future generations of all Canadians, first nations and immigrants such as I, alike.
Thank you for listening to me.
Jeremy Arney [EMAIL: iamjema(at)gmail.com ]
Jeremy’s blog: http://jeremyarneysblog.wordpress.com/ §
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