- Written by Sarama Sarama
- Category: Your Letters Your Letters
- Published: 02 December 2016 02 December 2016
Member of Parliament,
West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country
Re: Kinder Morgan- The consequences of approval.
Dear Pamela Goldsmith-Jones,
I have heard that Prime Minister Trudeau and the cabinet are likely to make a decision on the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion this coming Tuesday, November 29th.
Given the extremely grave nature of this major decision, I need to ask you a few direct questions.
Are you aware that there is absolutely no way, I repeat, ABSOLUTELY NO WAY, for Tar Sands heavy oil- diluted bitumen to be "cleaned up" in the event of a spill? This is a scientific fact, not a point of debate, yet the NEB hearings refused to hear evidence on this key point.
Are you aware that this expansion proposal means a 700% increase in tanker traffic, out of the Kinder Morgan terminal, with a greatly increased risk of serious heavy oil toxic spills and severe degradation to the Salish Sea, which is one of the most biologically diverse and rich eco-systems on the entire planet?
Are you aware that increasing Kinder Morgan's toxic heavy oil storage depot on Burnaby Mountain from 1.7 million barrels to over 5 million barrels, directly jeopardizes the health and safety of tens of thousands of local residents, and that there is no effective way to fight a fire at that storage facility, and that this depot is at extreme risk from any imminent large seismic event?
Are you aware of the serious risk of a collision of a 120,000 tonne Aframax oil tanker, whilst leaving the Kinder Morgan terminal in Burrard Inlet, impacting the CN rail bridge at the Second Narrows, and what that collision will mean in regards to destruction of critical transportation infrastructure, public health, the marine environment, and the devastating impact on the regional and national economy?
Are you aware that this expansion proposal is being done on the unceded traditional territory of the local First Nations, and that the Tsleil-Wautuh First Nation, in particular, is legally challenging the validity of this proposal, on the grounds that they were not properly consulted and that they have not given their consent for it?
Are you aware that highly respected elders of the Tsleil-Waututh first nation, and others, such as Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, have already been arrested by the RCMP, while opposing Kinder Morgan's expansion plans?
Have you been following the violent suppression against unarmed civilians and indigenous peoples, by militarized police at the North Dakota access pipeline, at Standing Rock, in the U.S.?
Are you aware that IF Prime Minister Trudeau approves the Kinder Morgan expansion, against the strongly worded opposition of local communities here in the Lower Mainland, including in your own riding, as well as the total opposition from the Squamish, the Tsleil-Waututh, and the Musqueam First Nations; that this would mean that your government "will have given approval, but our communities have not given permission"? This refers directly to a pre-election statement by Mr. Trudeau, that "governments may give approval, but only communities can give permission."
Are you aware that IF approval by your government is given, there is every likelihood that your government will be responsible for a "Standing Rock scenario" unfolding right here? Please take a few minutes to think about what, exactly, that really means. Tear gas. Rubber bullets. Water cannon. Mace. Violent arrests of peaceful citizens and indigenous peoples who are simply protecting their health, their homeland, and the futures of their children. Arrests and imprisonment of otherwise peaceful law-abiding people is a certainty. Serious injuries are likely, and deaths are a possibility, at the hands of law officers enforcing an unethical rule of law which will have been made by your government, IF approval is given. All of these potential serious violations are entirely avoidable, by saying NO to Kinder Morgan.
In the course of working on my film, I spent nine days documenting concerned citizens and indigenous people protecting Burnaby Mountain, in November, 2014, against Kinder Morgan. The City of Burnaby and the local First Nations were adamantly opposed to Kinder Morgan's activities. More than one hundred arrests were made; some of those arrests used violence and excessive force by heavily armed law officers. The costs to taxpayers were thought to exceed one million dollars. I witnessed these events personally, and I have the documentation to prove this. Yet that situation is as nothing compared to the actions that are likely to unfold, IF approval is given by your government.
Are you aware that expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline means an additional carbon footprint of one hundred and fifty million tonnes of C02 annually? Are you mindful of the fact that this constitutes a climate crime, a crime against humanity and against future generations?
Are you mindful of the fact that this pipeline expansion will mean an expansion of the vast toxicity that is unfolding at the Tar Sands mines in the Athabasca region?
Are you aware of the rare cancers that the indigenous peoples are dying of at Fort Chipewyan, and that they refer to Lake Athabasca, downstream from the Tars Sands mines, as the "biggest tailings pond in the world," and that the fish from that lake are being found with tumours and are now avoided as food, and that the moose are being found with cancerous growths in their organs?
Are you aware that the resident orcas here are already in danger of extinction? Even the NEB panel found that this pipeline expansion would put the orcas at highly increased risk. Essentially, what this approval means, is putting the final nail in that coffin.
In my communication with you in the past, and by watching the way in which you have handled community issues, I can see that you have tried to have a balanced and neutral stance, taking into account the various voices in the community, and, as best as you can, to represent those different voices. However, this is an extremely serious issue, and it is NOT one of those situations in which you will be allowed to pursue that neutral policy. If you do not make a strong public statement against approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, you will effectively be seen to have given your approval, and for all practical, political purposes, this perception will indeed be the truth.
If you make a strong public statement disapproving of this reckless pipeline expansion plan, prior to Prime Minister Trudeau's decision, you will find that the public will strongly support you. However, if you do not, and continue a policy of supposed neutrality, they will not only not support you; they will work against you.
Remember, we elected you, and your job is to represent our best interests- that is your first and foremost duty, not to corporate interests, and not to cabinet solidarity, but to your community.
This may likely be one of the single most important decisions of your political career, and it will leave a legacy that will endure well past all of our lifetimes.
I hope that, after examining your conscience, and thinking about the legacy that you and your government wish to leave for your community and future generations, you will find the strength and wisdom to make the right decision- one that you will never regret.