Opposition in Quebec to
TransCanada Pipeline Project
Demonstrations Take Militant Stands
Which Seek to Humanize the Natural and Social Environments
Cacouna, October 11, 2014
Opposition in Quebec to TransCanada
Energy East Pipeline Project
• Demonstration in Cacouna Demands
Repeal of Drilling Licenses and
Says No to TransCanada Pipeline and Port!
• Interview with Spokesperson of No
to Oil Spills in the St. Lawrence
• People of Sorel-Tracy Mobilize to Protect
Mother Earth - Normand Chouinard
• Harper Says Ottawa and Quebec
Ready to Table Bills to Allow
Oil and Gas Production in Gulf of St. Lawrence
• Statement by Coalition
• Statement by Save Our Seas and
• Canada's Dismal Record on Greenhouse Gas
Opposition in Quebec to TransCanada
Energy East Pipeline Project
Demonstration in Cacouna Demands
Repeal of Drilling Licenses and Says
No to TransCanada Pipeline and Port!
On Saturday, October 11, nearly 1,500 people
demonstrated in the
streets of Cacouna on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River (north
of Rivière-du-Loup) against the resumption of drilling by
Alberta energy monopoly TransCanada
near Cacouna and its Energy East Pipeline project.
Protesters came from across Quebec and marched through the streets of
the municipality to the port of Gros-Cacouna. They carried a large
banner calling for the protection of the St. Lawrence River including
the beluga population that breeds in the region, and another calling
for an end to the pipeline project.
The purpose of TransCanada's Energy East Pipeline
project is to
carry oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to maritime terminals in Quebec
City and Saint John, New Brunswick. It has a planned capacity of 1.1
million barrels per day. The project also includes the construction of
an pipeline port in Cacouna to
export crude oil via supertankers.
In late September, the Quebec Superior Court granted an
suspending TransCanada's license for exploratory drilling issued by the
Quebec government, because of possible harm to the belugas, an
For participants in the demonstration on October 11,
are not sufficient. One of the organizers of the event, Martin Poirier,
spokesperson of the group "No Oil Spills in the St. Lawrence," took
issue with the minister responsible for the region, Jean d'Amour (who
is also the Minister responsible
for government's Maritime Strategy). "D'Amour said after the event on
April 27 that there would be no project with TransCanada if the people
demonstrated that they did not want it. For us, today's event is that
signal: the people have not given the green light. We never gave that
mandate to our government," he
He accused the Couillard government of behaving like
TransCanada, "We have a duty to protect the common good. When I see the
Minister of Environment acting like a TransCanada lobbyist and
developer [...] The following day, Mr. Couillard dared to add that
drilling will continue to move forward
[...] He also became a TransCanada lobbyist," he added.
Sylvain Tremblay, Mayor of Saint-Siméon, a small
Charlevoix opposite Cacouna on the north shore of the St. Lawrence,
added, "In the regions and across Quebec they are imposing things on
us, while normally we know exactly what are our needs."
"You are the guardians of our future. We will not be
Nature gives us life, not the financiers wanting to come with their
black swords to stab us. Stand united and we will make a difference,"
he said to the applause of the protesters. Other speakers also spoke
about the importance of the
The protesters have pledged to step up their actions in
period. One such action is a petition issued by Nature Québec
the drilling stop and calling for a public debate on the Energy East
It reads in part:
"I THE UNDERSIGNED,
"Demand an open and transparent debate. Drilling in the
our whales is only the first phase of a much larger project with major
environmental issues for Quebec. Substantive issues have never been
discussed publicly: Do we want to build a new pipeline across more than
700 kilometres in Quebec to
ensure the delivery and export of crude bitumen from Western Canada?
What impact will this project have on climate change? On our natural
environment? On the St. Lawrence? What will happen in the event of a
"For its part, Nature Québec estimates that
Quebec has nothing to
gain and everything to lose so the benefits are minimal and the
environmental risks high. Quebecers should decide the fate of this
major project, which involves the future of our children, meanwhile the
debate on its usefulness has never taken
place. The government will permit this fundamental debate and will
provide Québec with a right of refusal only if we oppose the
Cacouna and unite our voices to demand it." The petition can be signed
The temporary injunction against TransCanada was in
effect until October 16.
However, on October 15, the Quebec
Ministry of the Environment blocked the resumption of drilling, saying
it was not convinced TransCanada will respect limits on noise levels
necessary to protect the belugas, citing evidence that TransCanada had
disobeyed provincial rules for the project. This appears to be only a
temporary setback for TransCanada as the Couillard government and
Harper governments are putting in place legislation for the project to
ahead. On October 30, TransCanada officially applied to the National
Energy Board to issue a license for the project. On November 5, Mayor
of Cacouna Ghislaine Daris said the town will likely hold a referendum
on whether to permit the project. In the meantime, the people's
opposition to the trampling of their rights and the disrespect for
Mother Earth is building.
Interview with Spokesperson of
No to Oil Spills in the St. Lawrence
Martin Poirier is the
spokesperson of No to Oil Spills in the St.
Lawrence, a citizen's initiative in the Lower St. Lawrence. In an
interview with Forum ouvrier, he explains that people
are extremely worried about the hydrocarbon projects being pushed in
Quebec. They realize that something must
be done, that no one can be indifferent.
"When we founded No to Oil Spills in July 2010, it was
to address the
issue of drilling in a marine environment in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
the famous Old Harry project, with its aim of drilling close to the
Magdalen Islands," Poirier explains. That project "has never evolved
simply because the citizens' mobilization
has always been there to block it. We then realized that the
hydrocarbon project had taken hold of Quebec, whether on land or at sea
-- Anticosti, the Gaspé, shale gas in the St. Lawrence Valley.
is compounded by the project adopted by Canada to become a
petro-power, which more or less targets Quebec
as a highway, a passageway for non-conventional oil such as that from
the oil sands, shale, etc."
Asked to elaborate the concerns of the people, Poirier
"Of course, the plight of the beluga whales touched a
chord with a
number of people in Quebec who care for this threatened species which
is constantly on the decline.
"Beyond that, 40 per cent of Quebec's drinking water
comes from the
St. Lawrence, between Quebec and Montreal. The Council of Canadians
published a report on the complete route of the pipeline from
Hardisty, Alberta to Quebec, enumerating all the waterways which will
along the way. In Quebec
itself, the pipeline will pass by no less than 600 rivers and streams,
and in one case through a tunnel near Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures near
Quebec, where the coastline itself is an ecological reserve. So the
issue of water quality is important. When dealing with the environment,
there is a principle at hand which
is to be cautious in the sense that if there are too many risks
involved in a project, one should simply not go ahead with it.
"Then of course there is the matter of a sustainable and
economy. For example, in Tadoussac, there is a protected marine park.
Within this park, the marine mammal-tourism industry itself involves
3,200 full-time jobs and $200 million in annual revenue. We are talking
here about an economy which
is sustainable as well as renewable. Actually, it is one of the most
sought-after spots in the world in terms of marine mammal observation.
It is a very sensitive issue for all concerned and that is why even the
Mayor of Saint-Siméon, who is also the prefect of Eastern
was present at the demonstration
on October 11. Also, many participants on October 11 who had never set
foot in a demonstration before began to appreciate that what was at
stake is their livelihood, their way of life, as well as the integrity
of the St. Lawrence itself.
"There are also the
landowners. They are being dispossessed of their
land, and there is a growing feeling of being dispossessed of their
entitlement [to have their say about the land and resources]. This is
the case with shale gas, for which Quebec has sold claims on Quebec
territory, renting whole parts of the land to potential shale gas
developers. We are also well aware
that the so-called shale gas potential is on mostly inhabited land.
When we speak of the St. Lawrence Valley, we are talking about an
inhabited territory of the St. Lawrence. Not to mention the fact that
it is also fertile in agricultural land, which is why since August 2010
people have not been at all happy with the
shale gas projects. There was a campaign called 'We refuse access to
our homes,' in response to the Mining Law which stipulates that the
only way to stop a company from having access to the land is for the
landowner to write a letter to the company to say 'Access denied.' In
the case of the pipeline, we adjusted
our campaign somewhat to call it 'Don't flow by here.' It is an
interesting campaign since we can go door-to-door and tell people, the
affected landowners who feel helpless, that this is the least that can
be done to affirm that things will not go according to plan for these
Poirier explains the challenges the people face:
"One of the problems we have come up against is the
government's mammoth 2012 omnibus bill, which scrapped more than 300
laws of which most are environmental. For example, a new law stipulates
that when a project is submitted by a company to the National Energy
Board, the latter has no more
than 15 months to render a decision. In this case we are dealing with a
4,600 kilometre pipeline. Fifteen months is definitely not enough. The
have to be mobilized and informed. If we want to reach a critical mass,
we must inform and, above all, educate, because information is coming
from all directions and it
is important to sort out what is true and what is false. We have to
give people arguments with which to oppose these plans. These are some
of the challenges we are facing.
"We base our work on scientific facts put forward by
whom these matters are their realm of expertise, but also on the basis
of documents put forward by the companies. We also study these
carefully. We have various presentations that are available, and in the
case of the No to Oil Spills we have given
more than 130 conferences in various regions of Quebec. It is also a
campaign of citizen education.
"We do not accept this agenda of transforming Quebec
provincial petro-power as part of a larger [Canadian] petro-power
project. In Quebec, almost 50 per cent of our annual energy consumption
comes from renewable energy sources, close to 40 per cent being
hydropower, while other sources are also
renewable -- biomass, wind power, etc. Furthermore, given that there is
a surplus of hydropower -- according to Quebec-Hydro these surpluses
could last well into 2020-2030 -- the thing to do is to implement an
electrical conversion of our means of transportation as well as to
develop the various renewable energy
sources that we have. The more capital is invested in oil development,
the more it will be difficult to make a clean break with oil,
considering we really have the potential to do it."
People of Sorel-Tracy Mobilize to
Protect Mother Earth
More than 2,500 people converged in Sorel-Tracy on
26 to express their opposition to the provincial and federal
governments' decision to facilitate the export of Alberta tar sands oil
via the St. Lawrence Seaway. Organizers of the demonstration, the Ligue
richeloise contre la tyrannie pétrolière,
are calling for a moratorium on the transport of this oil on the river,
which after arriving in Quebec is exported by ship from the
Suncor refinery in Montreal and newly modernized Kildair facilities in
Sorel-Tracy. For several weeks super tankers have been carrying oil for
export via the St. Lawrence Seaway.
The question "Who owns the St. Lawrence River?" was the
discussions amongst the participants, including youth from the
Édouard-Montpetit CÉGEP in Longueuil and the Sorel-Tracy
Chanting, "Who's river? Our river!" the president of the Sorel-Tracy
CÉGEP's student association highlighted
the importance of being able to decide on the economic role of the
river while taking up the responsibility to protect this invaluable
The environment was a major concern at the
demonstration. Some of
the questions were posed were, "Are we prepared to deal with a major
oil spill on the river? Who will pay for the damage? What would be the
long-term consequences for those living along its shores and the
ecosystem overall?" The vast majority
of Quebeckers live near the shores of the St. Lawrence. A major
environmental disaster would have serious consequences for marine
species and millions of people, affecting navigation and drinking water.
Recently, the Couillard government authorized an
increase in the
number of vessels carrying oil from the oil sands, claiming that Quebec
has a duty not to hinder interprovincial trade and the St. Lawrence
Seaway is under federal jurisdiction. This point was highlighted by the
various political and environmental
activists, particularly Dominic Champagne, director and well-known
activist in the fight against Anticosti Island shale oil, who emceed
The oil in question is transported from Alberta to the
refinery in Lévis near Quebec City and Suncor in Montreal East.
closure of the Shell refinery in Montreal a few years ago resulted in
an increase in the number of ships carrying refined oil that is ready
for distribution. Ships carrying Alberta
oil on the river add to the tankers already circulating on the seaway.
Their number will increase from 100 to 125 ships, according to Kildair
management. As well, the new oil tankers are larger and heavier than
current ships. According to the environmentalists at the October 26
including well-known biologist
and navigator Jean Lemire, there will only be a few metres between the
vessel's cargo hold and the river bottom. This greatly increases the
risk of accidents on one of the world's most difficult to
Participants at the march pointed out that Quebec does
not have to
submit to demands of big oil, and rejected the idea that Quebec should
because British Columbia and the U.S. have denied access to oil from
Alberta's oil sands.
They demanded that the Couillard government reverse its decision and
that the government not bow
down to the dictate of the big oil companies and the federal government.
Representatives of the Abenaki and Mohawk nations were
and the speech by the Kahnawake Band Council representative was one of
most warmly applauded. Amongst other things, he said that the
destruction of the environment is not because people are bad, but that
they are the victims of the present
system of governance over which they have no control. He invited
everyone, Native and non-Native, to reject the racist division that has
been imposed on them for centuries by federal authorities and to unite
for the protection of Mother Earth that sustains us and gives us life.
He said that our decisions must take into
consideration the future of the following seven generations. He called
on people to break with those who have no respect for Mother Earth and
warned that the fight will be a long one. Speaking of the power of big
oil, their giant ships and the complicity of political authorities, he
said, "It is now you who are the
Indians, and the cowboys are all over and are there to wipe you out ...
You must continue the struggle, as we have done for centuries."
Another major question of the day was what are the
benefits for Quebec. How does this transport of Alberta oil help the
Quebec economy? The demonstrators stated they see no benefit from
transporting this oil on the St. Lawrence, only the risk
of environmental disasters and the
costs that the population in general will have to pay. The memory of
the Lac-Mégantic tragedy was omnipresent. The participants
their strong conviction that they will persevere and that this project
will not pass.
Harper Says Ottawa and Quebec Ready to
Table Bills to Allow Oil and Gas Production in
Gulf of St. Lawrence
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Sept-Îles on
Shore on October 14 to announce that the Canadian and Quebec
governments are going to table bills before the end of the year
allowing for oil and gas production in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Harper
said that according to the Canadian government,
the Gulf of St. Lawrence and surrounding areas has the potential for 39
trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil. He said that
the cooperation between Ottawa and Quebec "will enable the safe and
environmentally responsible development of petroleum resources in the
region, help create hundreds of
jobs and generate revenues and economic growth for Quebec and Canada."
He also said that Quebec will benefit from all revenue derived from the
development of oil and gas resources in the Gulf, whether through
royalties, licensing fees or otherwise. The Government of Canada will
collect the royalties and transfer
an equivalent amount to the Government of Quebec.
The exploration and extraction are going to be done
management between the two levels of government, according to the
Canada-Quebec Accord. This is a 2011 agreement signed between the
Harper and Charest governments concerning the exploitation of the
Quebec portion of the "Old Harry" oil and gas
fields, on the border with Newfoundland and Labrador.
According to the Accord, both governments will work together to ensure
the responsible and sustainable development of these resources in a
manner that protects fisheries and the environment. The Accord states
that before an exploration permit
is issued, strategic environmental assessments must be completed by
both governments. The Accord established two phases of joint
management. During the first pre-discovery transitional phase, both
governments will work to establish a joint regulatory function using
their existing regulatory capacities. When the first commercial
discovery of petroleum
resources occurs, both governments will jointly establish an new
offshore resources board, through additional legislation.
The Prime Minister made all efforts to present the
offshore oil and gas production in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as a fait
and something that meets the people's expectations safety and
protection of the environment. However, he conveniently omitted any
mention of the broad and growing
opposition from the people.
On the day of Harper's announcement, at least two
issued a communique in which they expressed their long-standing
opposition to the project.
Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS), a coalition of fishing
environmental and tourism groups, coastal landowners, First Nations'
organizations and individuals, and citizens who are defending the Gulf
of St. Lawrence from offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling,
used the opportunity to remind Harper
that the First Nations leaders from Atlantic Canada are calling for a
12-year moratorium on all oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
"It is high time that governments started supporting First Nations and
coastal communities over corporate oil interests," said SOSS
spokesperson Mary Gorman in an October 14 news release.
The Coalition Saint-Laurent, which comprises over 80
First Nations organizations, environmental groups, trade unions,
student associations and others, issued a release reiterating its
demands for a moratorium on offshore production in the Gulf while the
issue goes to a full public review.
Its statement reads in part: "The Gulf of St. Lawrence
is a unique
ecosystem, very fragile, shared by five coastal provinces. Instead of
paving the way for oil exploration, Quebec should take a leadership
role in the Gulf and work with other coastal provinces in the
establishment of a general moratorium on oil
activities for the entire Gulf, as well as holding an extensive public
review on the matter."
The Coalition decries that the Quebec government is
planning to go
ahead with the legislation while its own environmental strategic
assessment that it has launched on the whole hydrocarbons file will not
be completed before the end of 2015.
Statement by Coalition Saint-Laurent
Magdalen Islands, October
Prime Minister Harper announced today in Sept-Îles
with the Quebec government on the joint management of hydrocarbons in
the Gulf of the St. Lawrence was near completion. After more than three
years of negotiations on the content of the mirror legislation
that will provide the framework
for the exploration and exploitation of oil in the Gulf, both
governments are planning to table their bills in the coming months, in
Ottawa and in Quebec. These bills will open the door to oil exploration
in the Quebec part of the Gulf which is still under a moratorium.
Coalition Saint-Laurent is deeply concerned over the
impact of such
a bill which obviously seeks to eliminate the last hurdles to drilling
in the Gulf. Furthermore, this announcement is being made at a time
when oil projects are increasing in Quebec, whether in Anticosti or the
Gaspésie, with pipeline and oil
terminal projects, as well as fracking projects in the St. Lawrence
Coalition Saint-Laurent decries that the Quebec
planning to table its mirror legislation while the strategic
environmental assessment that it launched on the whole hydrocarbon file
in Quebec will not be completed before the end of 2015.
"In announcing that they are going to table mirror bills
shortly, Quebec and Ottawa are presuming what the recommendation will
be from the strategic environmental assessment that the Quebec
government has launched," said Jean-Patrick Toussaint, the Science
Project Manager at David Suzuki Foundation.
"Both governments are putting the cart before the horse, which is
discrediting the environmental assessment process in which Quebeckers
have been urged to participate," he added.
The legislation to be tabled by the Quebec government
will be an
exact copy of the federal bill which Prime Minister Harper indicated
today would be introduced very shortly. All along, the Coalition
Saint-Laurent has been calling on the Quebec government to base its
legislation on the "highest standards" without
submitting to federal standards which are being constantly eroded.
Quebec must not abdicate its responsibilities towards the environment
to satisfy Ottawa.
"The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a very fragile and unique
shared by five coastal provinces. Instead of paving the way for oil
exploration, Quebec should take a leadership role in the Gulf and work
with other coastal provinces for the establishment of a general
moratorium on oil exploration for the entire
Gulf, as well as to hold an extensive public review on the matter,"
said Coalition spokesperson Sylvain Archambault.
Coalition Saint-Laurent comprises First Nations and
Nations people belonging to 85 organizations and groups and over 5,000
people from all walks of life and from the five coastal provinces in
the Gulf. The members of the Coalition are demanding that a moratorium
be put on the exploration and exploitation
of oil and gas in all of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Statement by Save Our Seas and Shores
NS) — Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition [SOSS] is
calling on the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum
Board (C-NLOPB) to stop issuing license extensions (free or otherwise)
to Corridor Resources for EL-1105 at [the] Old Harry [oils and gas
field] in the Gulf of St
Following up on the announcement made by the Innu,
Mi'gmaq Alliance in Halifax last July, wherein First Nations called for
a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of
St Lawrence, representatives from SOSS-NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL are
meeting in Halifax this
week to announce their support for the Alliance's demand.
"There is a duty to consult First Nations that has not
thus far in this process," said Troy Jerome, executive director of the
Mi'gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. "In the enclosed attachment C-NLOPB
acknowledges: 'The Board has not yet explicitly requested input from
the public or aboriginal communities.'
It makes no sense for the C-NLOPB to issue another license extension to
Corridor Resources, when First Nations have called for a 12-year
moratorium -- unless they plan to give Corridor a 12 year extension,"
The Coalition is responding to a statement made by
Resources that they would be seeking additional time on their Old Harry
license. While the company has not yet applied for this extension, the
Coalition wants to send a clear message to federal and provincial
politicians and to the C-NLOPB.
"Corridor has already received two free extensions from
one in November 2011 and the second in July 2013. These free extensions
amount to special treatment given to this oil company by its
regulator," said Bob Diamond from SOSS-NL. "It also begs a bigger
question. If Corridor can't afford
to pay for license extensions, how will they ever afford to clean up an
oil spill?" he said. "BP has set aside at least 43 billion dollars on
the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Compare this to the measly billion
dollar no fault liability limit that has yet to be implemented into
legislation here in Canada," said Diamond.
Coalition members including coastal landowners and
tourism reps speak in a united voice, calling on federal and provincial
governments to honor and implement First Nations call for a 12 year
"Four years after the BP Gulf of Mexico spill which saw
hundred million gallons of oil and nearly 2 million gallons of toxic
oil dispersants sprayed into Gulf waters, only 25 percent of the
spilled oil has been recovered," said Ian Forgeron, a fisherman from
SOSS-PEI. "Oysters are down 93%, shrimp
40-60% and scientists believe the spill harmed more than 80,000 birds,
25,000 marine mammals and 6,000 sea turtles along with coral lobsters,
crabs, clams, zooplankton and starfish," he said. Forgeron, who is also
a social worker said, "Gulf of Mexico residents' rates of anxiety,
depression, symptoms of post-traumatic
stress disorder and substance abuse have all increased in those
communities impacted by the BP spill."
"Since the Gulf of St Lawrence is six times smaller than
the Gulf of
Mexico, can you imagine what a similar spill would do to our billion
dollar Gulf fishery?" said Ron Heighton, president of the Gulf NS Fleet
Planning Board. "The Gulf of St Lawrence has the largest concentration
of krill in the North Atlantic
and among the largest lobster production in the world. The fishing
industry is not willing to take this risk and we don't want our
politicians to either," he said.
"Gros Morne, Port au Port, Bay St George in NL, Cape
Park, the Cabot Trail, Magdalen Islands and Cavendish, PEI are some of
the national treasures at risk." said Margo Sheppard from SOSS-NB.
"Over the years, communities, businesses and governments have invested
in making this 660 million
dollar tourism industry in Atlantic Canada. 17,000 jobs in communities
around the gulf depend on sustainable tourism. There is too much at
risk here." adds Sheppard. «Our tourism industries for all five
provinces deserve greater protection and respect from elected officials
than we are currently receiving," she said.
"Since the oil industry already has unfettered access to
88% of east
coast waters, enough is enough," said Mary Gorman of SOSS-NS. "It is
high time that governments started supporting First Nations and coastal
communities over corporate oil interests. We want Corridor, unelected
petroleum boards and federal
and provincial governments to know that oil drilling CANNOT co-exist in
sensitive spawning, nursery and migratory waters in one of the most
fragile ecosystems on earth. We stand with Innu, Maliseet and Mi'gmaq
First Nations in calling for a 12 year moratorium on offshore oil and
gas development in the Gulf
of St Lawrence."
Canada's Dismal Record on
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction
On October 7, Julie Gelfand, Commissioner of the
Sustainable Development, issued a report on Canada's fulfilment of its
commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Speaking at a press conference she stated, "My biggest
concern is it
does not look like Canada will meet its international commitment. [...]
it's very difficult for us, for Canada, to expect other countries to
meet their commitments when Canada can't meet its own."
Gelfand elaborated that "the evidence is really not
strong that the
sector-by-sector approach is going to help Canada achieve its target.
Canada is not working with the provinces. There's no overall plan,
national plan, for how we're going to achieve our target."
As part of the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, the Harper
to reduce Canada's emissions by 17 per cent, based on 2005 levels, by
2020. The Commissioner's report corroborates many other reports that
show Canada will fall well short of that target. The Commissioner's
report adds that Canada
has no detailed plan to meet the targets, and that two-thirds of the
reductions made are due to action at the provincial not federal level.
Gelfand also pointed out that oil sands monitoring is
federal and Alberta government's announced a Joint Oil Sands Monitoring
program in 2012, to be in place by 2015. The Commissioner audited nine
of the 38 monitoring initiatives being conducted by the federal
government and found that while
the program was largely on schedule, four initiatives were delayed, due
to factors such as lack of staff and delays in laboratory contracts and
permits to set up monitoring sites. The report notes that Environment
Canada says "it is working to address some of these factors."
Furthermore, the federal government has no firm plan to
oil sands beyond next year. The Commissioner's report found that the
federal government's role in environmental monitoring in the oil sands
is not yet determined. In a written response that was included in the
report, the Environment Canada
said it will work with its provincial counterpart in Alberta "to
develop options" on what monitoring will look like after 2015,
"including the extent and nature of Environment Canada's future
Additionally, the federal government finished a draft of
oil and gas
regulations a year ago, but these have not been made public or
The Conservative government first promised emissions
the oil and gas sector in 2006 but these have not been forthcoming. The
regulations are important to reduce emissions because the bulk of
emissions growth is in oil and gas. The Commissioner's report says a
framework for regulations is already
done and that "detailed regulatory proposals have been available
internally for over a year." However, the government has only consulted
on these privately, primarily through a small working group of one
province and selected industry representatives. Gelfand said she
believes that province was Alberta and points
out that the internal consultation does not meet the standard of a
world-class system. "We made a recommendation to the government that
they need to develop an overall plan for developing [oil and gas
emissions] regulations. Canadians want to know when the regulations are
going to come in, what level of regulation
it's going to be, what level of greenhouse gas reduction we're going to
achieve, reporting back to Parliament on a regular basis," she said. On
a related note, the report also points out that many public groups and
stakeholders, including Aboriginal Peoples, are unable to participate
fully and meaningfully in environmental
To read the complete report, click here.
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