First Nations warn of civil disobedience if Northern Gateway pipeline goes ahead

First Nations in B.C. are pre-pared to go to the wall to stop construction of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, Grand Chief Stewart phillip, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs president, warned Monday.

"No way, absolutely no way will we allow or tolerate the pipeline proposal to proceed. We will fight this through the joint review panel, in the courts, and we will oppose this proposal on the land itself," Phillip said during a Vancouver news conference with former federal environment minister David Anderson and representatives of the World Wildlife Fund, City of Prince Rupert and West Coast Environmental Law Association.

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"We can't help but believe that the Harper government's aggression, in respect to attempting to bulldoze this proposal through, will change the political landscape of this country," Phillip said.

Civil disobedience or blockades will follow if the federal government proceeds with the pipeline from the Alberta oilsands to Kitimat, Phillip said.

The proposal is currently under a National Energy Board panel review, expected to wrap up next year.

Most northern and coastal B.C. First Nations oppose the proposed pipeline, but some Alberta and urban First Nations support it.

Phillip emphasized that B.C. is not for sale, referring to Premier Christy Clark's demand that B.C. receive a larger share of pipeline benefits.

Anderson, a former Liberal MP for Victoria who served five years as environment minister after being appointed to the portfolio in 1999 by then-prime minister Jean Chrétien, said it is time for Clark to reject the pipeline.

"She's tried hard to be reasonable, but I'd prefer her to come out against the pipeline and against Enbridge," said Anderson, the architect of the original plans to keep tankers out of northern B.C. waters.

Anderson launched a blistering attack on Enbridge - which is now cleaning up a spill of about 190,000 litres of oil from a Wisconsin pipeline.

The pipeline should not be built at all in such a fragile area, but if it is, Enbridge is not the company that should be involved because of its shocking safety record, Anderson said.

"Clearly, it has a cowboy culture that is quite inappropriate for building a pipeline in one of the most sensitive parts of the world," he said.

Earlier this month, the head of the U.S National Transportation Safety Board said Enbridge officials handled a spill into Michigan wetlands and the Kalamazoo River like the "Keystone Kops."

Anderson said he has little faith in the National Energy Board review, as it has not been able to get the names of 10 companies that put up $10 million each to finance the Enbridge bid.

"Without that information, you can't tell what deals have been made," Anderson said. "Enbridge is the front for 10 other corporations, and we don't even know their names."

Ideally, Enbridge should just go away, Anderson said.

"They should simply withdraw their application and disappear," he said.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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