Friday, 13 June 2014

Dear British Columbia; We're with you. A letter from Newfoundland and Labrador

Douglas Channel near Kitimat, BC. Kitimat residents said no
in a Plebiscite but government forges ahead
Ice berg near Manolis L wreckage
where oil has been persistently
spilling for over a year.

Dear British Columbia;

We write to you today from clear across this great country of ours in Notre Dame Bay in Newfoundland. 
We have been watching your battle with the Federal Government of Canada  with regards to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project and how in spite of the disapproval levels of the people of British Columbia it appears that the government will proceed with this dangerous threat to the shores of your beautiful province.

While a great vast land separates us we know that as Canadians,  British Columbians and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have one thing in common.  It is the bond we have with our coastline.  I know that the people of BC cherish their pristine waters and their panoramic views.  I sense that they are people of the land and sea and place, bonded to the ocean and the life and sustenance it offers to the soul, as well as the body.  We too love our waters and are similarly devoted to the ocean and its bounty and beauty.

We write to you today to reassure you that you are on the right path.  We too have negotiated a multi-billion dollar oil industry that involves the transport of crude along our shores.  Yet there is no infrastructure in place to deal with any sort of spill should it occur. We also know that should a spill occur, there will be no real effort to clean it up.

How do we know? 

Because we have a situation here that, while not oil industry related, highlights this government’s indifference to the environmental impact of an oil spill.  You see we have one set to occur at any moment and the government refuses to prevent it.

You may have heard our MP, Mr. Scott Simms and other Newfoundland and Labrador MP’s also,  address the situation with the Manolis L, a sunken freighter leaking off our coast just 3 miles in rich fishing grounds, a tourist haven and more than anything, our home. The entire area will be destroyed and this will have lasting effects on our region and our province.  This ship sank twenty nine years ago and just over a year ago now a storm cracked the hull and oil started to escape.

"It is very clear by their actions in the west and their inaction in the east that this government does not care to listen to its citizens or respect the voices of the people who in great numbers stand up for what they want and know to be right and smart.-MLCRC" 

Knowing that this oil sits there ready to spill and has been persistently leaking into our waters for over a year the government has not removed it. They have chosen to continue with temporary measures that do nothing to ensure that whole amount isn’t deposited into our bay in the next storm or ripped apart by one of the hundreds of icebergs that scrape along our shores in the spring.

The government says they are "monitoring the situation."

We say they’re watching an oil spill.  

Who watches an oil spill and does nothing?  The government of Canada apparently.

And while they monitor, we also watch.

We have watched seabirds die. We have observed sadly as seals who have aspirated  and covered are with the oil panting for breath on the ice floes knowing they will eventually die. We have experienced the sticky crude on our fishing gear and around our fishing boats and properties.  We have no idea what is happening beneath the surface in our food chain.  But if we could watch I am sure we would see similar events unfolding in the depths.

All of that’s just from the few thousand liters that have leaked to date.

Because the scary part is that there are approximately 600,000 liters remaining to spill out.  In fact it will be the largest oil spill in Canadian history when it does.   Even scarier still is that this is but a mere drop compared to what an oil tanker carries.

It is obvious to us that if they choose not to prevent an oil spill that is inevitable in our ocean on the east coast then they’re not going to put any great effort into protecting the west coast. 

If they cared about the environment or the oceans surely they would not leave five hundred tonne of bunker C at the mercy of the mighty Atlantic.

If they cared about the people of either province they would listen to their pleas. Because let’s be honest here, most of the people opposed to your pipeline and for the extraction of the oil at the bottom our bay are not traditional environmentalists.  We’re not activists in the traditional sense. 

We are regular folks, stay at home parents, fishers, farmers, teachers, students,  businessmen, seniors, youngsters, all races and creeds and so on.  We are the regular people, the citizens and most of all we are the  voters.  

Our province is 100% behind removing the oil from the sunken ship as the only resort and your province is somewhere around 65% opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project.   

Yet we are ignored here and your people are ignored there.  When did Enbridge become a voter?  Even our Prime Minister only gets one vote in a general election.

Government should be of the people—all the people—and should put their needs above the agenda of corporations or indeed, of the politicians who are elected if a specific issue warrants it.  

When the people say no, the government should listen. When the people need help, the government should listen, particularly if that government wants to remain the government.

It is my hope that reason and common sense prevails and that the current administration takes care of both of our issues. 

I hope it sees fit to listen to the demands of your people and stop their plan to ship this poison through your waters. I would not want you to have to see oil in the waters out there such as we see in our waters here as this shipwreck defies their weak measures to contain the crude.

Our oil spill is a matter of time—a game of roulette is being played here with our environment and our livelihoods.  Not removing the oil from that sunken cargo ship after an entire year of its leaking is proof to me that should the Enbridge Pipeline go through and should there be a spill, there will be no remedy for you just as there hasn’t been for us.

Perhaps they-the government- hopes that our provinces are far enough apart that you won’t realize what is going on over here in ours or vice versa.  Perhaps they think we cannot make the connection and relate one to the other.

 But we Canadians are closer than geography can determine and we do care for each other and watch out for each other more than they realize.

To the PC Members of Parliament on the government side we ask you to strengthen yourselves and stand together with your citizens.

Remember that the leader of your party will not determine your next term at your desk, the people will.

For a government who invokes the terms reason and rational and common sense in the House of Commons ad nauseam the treatment of both our causes sure shows a remarkable lack of all three.

But their catch phrase “let’s be clear” is quite useful and appropriate.  

It is very clear by their actions in the west and their inaction in the east that this government does not care to listen to its citizens or respect the voices of the people who in great numbers stand up for what they want and know to be right and smart. 

We hope that you are successful at stopping the Northern Gateway Pipeline.   It’s a battle worth fighting as so many of us now know first hand what it’s like to have that black crude wash ashore in the cove where we grew up and the horror of watching seals and seabirds suffer and die from the inaction of an uncaring government. 

I fear the day when the rest of that spill occurs and destroys our bay.  

 I hope that you have success at preventing any such disaster from happening in yours.

We wish you every success with your work on this issue.

 Manolis L Citizens Response Committee 

Oil on the shores Dec 21, 2013

Manolis L in 1985 just before she sank at
Blowhard Rock, Notre Dame Bay NL

Seal that aspirated oil and came ashore with others to die

Based on tides this is the area affected
when the oil spills

Oiled ducks are common-thousands have died.

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