Omnibus bills do not protect our land and water nor our future

2 Mar

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project (ENGP) has been a thorn in many British Columbians since its proposal in the mid 2000’s. The project was announced in 2006. It has been stalled several times since then and the Energy Board’s joint review panel has been established to assess the application. Further information is requested on structure and risk assessment. First Nations, environmentalists and concerned BC citizens have strongly opposed the Enbridge pipeline project from the onset. In 2010, 66 First Nations signed the Save the Fraser Declaration and 40 more have signed since then. Council of Canadians formed a Kelowna Chapter to raise awareness and build solidarity to stop further expansion of pipelines in BC.

What is worrisome is the Joint Review Panel that is formed through the National Energy Board, to review the ENGP proposal, is an arm of the federal government. This same federal government has included environmental laws, to be encompassed into the omnibus legislation which potentially weakens these laws. This gives final approval of this project to this federal cabinet.

As with the Idle No More movement, I got hopeful that this was not just a First Nations movement but one where all of British Columbians could work in partnership towards a sustainable environment and the greater good of their home and province. It could also be about more, about building relationships, empathy and understanding of varying perspectives sharing a common goal. It is far from just First Nations issue, it is a concern for all Canadians; it is the future of our lands, water and resources. McCombs article “The Agenda-Setting Role of the Mass Media in Shaping the Public Opinion” says that agenda setting does not just influence people on what to focus on it also influences our perspectives and understanding of issues in the news. “What we know about the world is largely based on what the media decides to tell us”. Now, think of ENGP and the media that covers this issue. Media is supposed to be objective, they are always touting they are. We tend to have a level of trust with media; however, people are critical thinkers and can dissect what they hear in the news. Now, add in a wealthy BC business man who happens to be a news media mogul, David Black. He owns several BC community papers and I am sure they have the devotion of Enbridge at its feet. After all he is a supporter of ENGP but he would never cross that line of ethics to plug his own bias to a province or nations of loyal readership, would he? You don’t think that his support of this project would take this view and flavour the coverage of this issue and share it as truth with its readership? On the other hand, Halloran in his article, “On the Social Effects of Television,” says that the audience sees and hears what it wants and filters out the rest. The results: the intended message gets lost. When newspapers have vested interests and support projects such as ENGP, how do we interpret the distributed knowledge or information imparted to the public? Do you research, educate yourself on issues of importance to you. We all have a voice, let’s use it.

Gordon, J (2013). Retrieved from http://idlenomore.ca/index.php/articles/latest-news/british-columbia-news/item/96-the-people%E2%80%99s-summit-on-enbridge-northern-gateway-project

Halloran, J.D. (1970). On the social effects of television. In S. Thornham & C. Bassett & P. Marris (Eds.), Media studies: a reader (pp 384-388). London: Panther Books.

McCombs, M (2003). Retrieved from http://www.infoamerica.org/documentos_pdf/mccombs01.pdf

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