Dirty Oil Comes to Bella Bella

by INGMAR LEE

Vancouver Island.

I was demonstrating along the Bella Bella airport  road with my family when Canada’s “National Energy Board Joint Revue Panel” entourage arrived in the Heiltsuk First Nation’s village yesterday. Bella Bella is situated on BC’s primaeval and pristine Central Coast, at the heart of the ‘Great Bear Rainforest.’

The JRP had come, purportedly, to hear people’s views on the gigantic Tar-Sands pipeline project that Canada’s Neocon Prime Minister Stephen Harper is most anxious to force across BC. The pipelines would deliver unrefined Tar-Sands bitumen, -the dirtiest oil anywhere- to a future gigantic Oil Port on the Pacific Coast at Kitimaat. From there a half million barrels-per-day would be loaded on 200-per-year Giga-Tankers the size of the Empire State Building and delivered through the treacherous rock-pile that is the BC coast to Harper’s favourite new market, -China. Harper has been shamelessly trumpeting the scheme over the past year, saying that as the USA economy has now gone bankrupt, it is in Canada’s national interest to diversify its oil markets and start shipping it over to China instead.

It was a cheerful, boisterous, colourful crowd of about 200 people, with Chiefs, elders and kids-probably at least half the crowd were children. I didn’t hear any insulting language, -and we, and all the people near us waved our placards as the RCMP-led convoy passed by. Everyone in the crowd knew that the JRP had been politely invited to join in the community Feast later in the day, and everyone expected that they would join us in the Bella Bella Community Hall, to listen to all the wonderful speakers.

It took the crowd about 20 minutes to hike back down the road into town, and when we got to the government dock, we saw all the Heiltsuk chiefs, resplendent in their full regalia, along with every important community member, standing there watching the JRP entourage getting whisked away to an adjacent island on the Shearwater Corporation boat. The whole cowardly entourage had suddenly departed Bella Bella, and refused their invite to the Feast. This is totally rude and insulting behaviour. Everyone there felt punched in the gut, -utterly shocked!

So then we all marched up and filled the Hall, where we later learned that the JRP had cancelled all the hearings, citing that they had felt “intimidated” by the absolutely peaceful demonstration! The Bella Bella intervenors had spent untold hours of time and money in preparing their submissions, delegations had arrived from all the neighbouring communites, -Owikeno, Nuxalk, Kitasoo Xias Xais, and Gitgaat Chiefs and dignitaries had arrived, many of the kids at the Bella Bella School had undertaken a hunger strike and the community had put in an enormous effort, organizing and preparing for the event, and now their input has been outright cancelled, -right on schedule with the retroactive reductions in environmental hearings for major projects as announced in the recent budget. More than 4000 people have signed up to speak out, but Harper has pulled out all the stops to stigmatize and demonize anyone who opposes the scheme.

If HarperCon government has already formalized these “retroactive changes” to the Enbridge review process as we have heard they intend to do (in the Budget), I haven’t yet seen how they propose to do that, but I cannot imagine a more clumsy and stupid way to go about cutting off public comment. The final insult was that although the JRP claims to have been “frightened away” by the peaceful, family-oriented demonstrations at Bella Bella airport, they had no worries whatsoever at all about drinking late into the night, with the locals at the Shearwater Bar.

Although I am one of the 4000 who have registered to speak at the  hearings, I known that this is a totally corrupt, farcical charade that will ultimately rubberstamp the “Stephen Harper Pipeline/Tanker Scheme.”

I am disgusted by the environmental groups that have lent a chimera of dignity to the corrupt NEB process by their participation in this rotten staged process. I cannot for the life of me understand any reason they might give for sitting there, -other than the significant money they get for doing so. Clearly, for any real environmentalist, NO is all there is to say about the scheme of pumping a half-million barrels of dirty-oil per day across the province, to be loaded onto these ridiculous tankers, -thereby guaranteeing an inevitable oil disaster which will destroy all of Canada’s Pacific coast and beyond.

All along I have believed that this horrible process should have been utterly boycotted right from the start. People should not have to waste their time defending their lands and waters from this hideous Harper monstrosity through this contrived, farcical and corrupt process.

Harper is desperate to get his dirty oil pipeline and tankers, has demonstrated that he will employ any number of ugly, twisted lies and dirty tricks to forward his Neocon agenda, including cheating elections as is now being revealed in the emerging “Robocalls Scandal” in which thousands of Canadians where phoned and mis-directed to wrong or non-existent polling stations during last year’s federal election. More and more details of the mushrooming scam are being revealed on a daily basis.

I think that one measure by which we can gauge the huge level of opposition to this project that exists in British Columbia, is by looking at that stupid entity which lives and breathes polling statistics, -namely BC’s own Neocon Christy Clark provincial government. Of course, any idiot knows that a poll will always answer favourably according to whom pays for it, nevertheless even corporate polling consistently demonstrates that more than 80% of British Columbian’s oppose oil and gas development off our coast. Clearly by her calculations, -in spite of how much she must be sweating and itching to get BC signed on to the Stephen Harper Pipeline/Tanker Scheme- to try to do so would be political suicide. Harper visited BC on numerous occasions during last year’s election, and never mentioned a peep about the project, -and now he says it’s a national emergency. HarperCon, which relies on dirty tricks and the general corruption of what passes for democracy in Canada to get elected, doesn’t give a rat’s ass what the people of BC care about.

Nevertheless, this most clumsy and stupid act of cowardice just seen at Bella Bella, just might have cost Harper his pipeline.

I enclose this podcast of my comments on this issue on CFUV (University of Victoria) “Gorilla Radio”

(just load the page and click on the arrow, -my interview is first up)

Ingmar Lee is writing from the heart of the ‘Great Bear Rainforest’ one of the Earth’s final great wildernesses, near Bella Bella on the BC Central Coast, -where Prime Minister Stephen Harper hopes to build a giant giga-tanker port at Kitimat, which will receive 525,000 barrels of raw bitumen every day, transported over an 1100 km double pipeline direct from Alberta’s Dirty-Oil Tar Sands. He can be reached at: ingmarz@gmail.com.

Will Falk moved to the West Coast from Milwaukee, WI where he was a public defender.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Dmitry Rodionov
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: A New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, the Season Finale, Mekonception in Redhook
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative