Politicians and business leaders urge approval of Northern Gateway

A group of politicians and business leaders have written an open letter in support of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. The 39 signatories include Saskatchewan ...

A group of politicians and business leaders have written an open letter in support of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

The 39 signatories include Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, former Ontario Premier Mike Harris, and former federal cabinet ministers John Manley and David Emerson. The BC Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and construction, petroleum and real estate development associations are also included.

“It is critical that Canada open up new markets so that taxpayers get full value for our energy resources and that our natural resources find a way to those markets as quickly as possible,” the letter reads.

“But the lessons of our past tell us this opportunity must be done right: we must take extraordinary measures to protect our environment; we must build strong communities so people have the right skills for the opportunities ahead; and we must chart a new path on Aboriginal partnerships.”

It goes on to say that the environmental review process undertaken for the project was “the most comprehensive and rigourous … of its time.”

The letter is being published June 12 in the Globe & Mail, Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province, Victoria Times Colonist, Prince George Citizen and on June 13 in The National Post, according to the BC Chamber of Commerce.

The letter contrasts with an open letter sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week. Signed by 300 scientists across Canada, that missive was highly critical of the joint review panel report, saying the panel relied on information from Enbridge without an outside review; that it considered a narrow set of risks against a broad set of economic benefits; it contradicted scientific information in official government documents; and it treated uncertain risks as unimportant risks, and assumed they would be negated by Enbridge’s yet-to-be-developed mitigation measures.

Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline would transport bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to Kitimat, where it would be exported by tanker to Asia. First Nations and environmental groups oppose the project on environmental grounds.

The company says the project is vital in order to access markets in Asia.

The federal government is expected to make a final decision on the project this week or early next week.

jstdenis@biv.com

@jenstden

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