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Media Release

Friends of Cape Breton Island
Media Release - For release Tuesday, November 14, 2000

International group of celebrities call on Prime Minister Chrétien to protect sensitive fisheries

Opponents of oil and gas leases along the coastline of Cape Breton Island received some high-powered support today as nearly seventy celebrities, scientists, artists, musicians and writers wrote Prime Minister Jean Chrétien demanding the permits be rescinded.

Today, "Friends of Cape Breton Island" -- including musician Philip Glass, actors Alan Arkin, Cliff Robertson and Dan Aykroyd, director Dan Petrie, photographer Annie Liebowitz and journalist Robert MacNeil -- called for a fifty mile buffer zone to protect sensitive fisheries, whale migration routes and tourism values along the in-shore. Many of the celebrities signing the letter have homes on the Island, including Farley Mowat, Alan Arkin and Philip Glass.  Others are native Cape Bretoners who have become Hollywood successes, such as Dan Petrie Sr.

Coastal oil and gas exploration permits were granted almost two years ago by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board without any consultation with local communities, fisheries organizations, First Nations or the public.  A broad coalition, Save our Seas and Shores, has been demanding that the permits be rescinded and that the process under the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board be over-hauled.

The letter to the Prime Minister was also signed by the heads of the major fisheries organizations in the Maritimes -- The Maritime Fishermen's Union, the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association and the Gulf Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board as well as Mi’kmaq representatives.

The letter acknowledged the joint federal and provincial government announcement of a public review, but countered that it was "not adequate as it now stands."   The signatories point out the proposed review would be undertaken by the same board that issued the permits. The board is in a conflict in a dual role as both licensor and regulator of Nova Scotia’s offshore petroleum industry.  The letter advocates an impartial and independent review "under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act...or the public review model of  the Georges' Bank Review Panel."

Vice President of the Gulf NS Fleet Planning Board, Leonard Le Blanc, commented, "It definitely helps our cause to have high-profile support.  Unfortunately, communities and fishers in Nova Scotia have a hard time getting anyone to listen."

Other signatories include:  actor Margot Kidder, musician David Byrne, actor William Dafoe, actors Frank and Rosie Shuster, musician Patti Smith, writers Rudy Wurlitzer and Claire Mowat, artist Robert Moskowitz and Hermine Ford and many more.

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For more information: 613-241-4611 

Text of letter to Jean Chrétien

November 14, 2000

The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister
Government of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6


Dear Prime Minister Chrétien:

We are friends of Cape Breton Island, deeply troubled by proposed oil and gas exploration and development along our coasts.

We understand these permits were granted without proper environmental review or public consultation which is standard procedure under the current licensing process of the Canada/Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB).

The recent announcement of both the provincial and federal governments of a public review is not adequate as it now stands.

In order that this review be full, fair and impartial, we demand that these shoreline permits be revoked prior to the public review. In order that the arbitrary processes of the petroleum board (CNSOPB) itself be examined, we believe the review must not be carried out by the Canada/ Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.

The review should be established under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, with a panel appointed by the federal minister, or follow the public review model of the Georges’ Bank Review Panel. This review must consider all significant impacts from petroleum exploration through development.

Please consider why the east coast should be the only place in Canada with inshore, up to the beach oil and gas permits.

Should we risk disturbing and befouling a pristine coastline which borders a National Park, is home to a Heritage River and sustains hundreds of millions of dollars in both its fishing and tourist industries?

We believe the simplest solution would be for your government to establish a 50 mile buffer zone for coastal areas throughout Canada.

We hope you will commit to a process at least as rigorous as the one under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Thank you.

(Partial list of over eighty signatories)

Laurie Anderson, Musician
Alan Arkin, Actor
Dan Aykroyd, Actor
David Byrne, Musician
Ron Cormier, fisherman, President, Maritime Fishermen’s Union
William Dafoe, Actor
Chief Albert Denny, Pictou Landing First Nation
Frank Gehry, Architect
Philip Glass, Musician
Percy Hayne, fisherman, President, Gulf NS Fleet Planning Board
Michael Herr, Writer
Leonard LeBlanc, president, Cheticamp and Area Inshore Fishermen’s Assn
Annie Liebowitz, Photographer
Robert MacNeil, journalist
Allister Marshall, Chapel Island First Nation
Rory McLellan, Prince Edward Island Fisherman’s Assn
Claire Mowat, Writer
Farley Mowat, Writer
Daniel Petrie,  Director
Brigitte Radecki, artist
Bob Rafelson, Director
Cliff Robertson, Actor
Jean Hinton Rossner, environmentalist
Patti Smith, Musician


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