Pull plug on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, says NDP’s Thomas Mulclair

By Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist July 11, 2012 6:37 AM

A damning report on Enbridge Inc.’s inept handling of the 2010 crude oil spill in Michigan should kill the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said Tuesday in Victoria.

“Northern Gateway should be stopped and the plug should be pulled on it,” said Mulcair, after meeting with local community groups and business leaders.

“Today’s conclusive report by the Americans, I think, should be the final nail in that coffin.”

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that Enbridge managed the massive Michigan spill like the “Keystone Kops.”

The company did not act for 17 hours after receiving the initial alarm about the pipeline rupture and failed to take action even though it had known since 2004 that the pipeline suffered from corrosion, the board found.

The Northern Gateway pipeline, which is facing strong opposition from First Nations and many British Columbians, would run from Alberta’s oil sands to Kitimat, where bitumen would be loaded on to supertankers and shipped to Asian markets.

“The concerns being expressed in B.C., now have to be listened to by everyone,” Mulcair said.

“I am firmly opposed to Northern Gateway, as is the NDP. It makes no ecological or economic sense to be taking those huge risks with that very delicate coastline.”

The New Democrat leader was in Victoria at the University of Victoria for a fundraiser to pay off expenses from his leadership campaign.

He previously aroused the ire of Albertans by saying the oilsands are driving up the dollar and hurting the manufacturing sectors of central Canada and calling for greener development and massive cleanup efforts.

On Tuesday, Mulcair also lashed out at the Conservative government’s dismantling of environmental protections and said actions such as gutting the Fisheries Act are turning many Canadians to the NDP.

“Canadians want us to protect the environment. They believe in basic principles like polluter-pay,” he said.

Changes to the Fisheries Act would have devastating effects on B.C.’s lakes, as the new rules require the presence of a commercial fishery before waters are protected, Mulcair said.

“It is not enough to show a deleterious substance has been put into fish habitat, now you have to be able to prove that, not only were the fish negatively affected, but they’re actually going to die,” he said.

Polls favourable to the NDP show that Canadians want an alternative to the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the NDP is providing it, Mulcair said.

Mulcair shrugged off a Conservative attack ad campaign and said, although the NDP is upbeat and wants to take the high road, the party will respond in a similar vein if that is what it takes to show Canadians what is wrong with the Conservative government.

“I learned my politics in a very tough neighbourhood in Quebec City, and I am kind of used to the rough and tumble,” he said.

New NDP ads, posted on the party’s website, go after Harper’s economic record and feature ominous drumbeats and unflattering black and white photos.

The ads were emailed to party supporters Tuesday and posted on the NDP website, but it is not yet clear whether the party will pay to broadcast them.

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— With a file from the Canadian Press

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