Are you feeling radical?

Dear Friend,

I don't know what it is about today but I'm feeling slightly, well … radical. How about you?

When I wrote before Christmas about an impending government attack on Canada's environment movement, I wasn't expecting a formal Declaration of War just 9 days into the New Year. It came in the form of an "open letter" from Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver that’s receiving heavy media coverage all across the country.

The open letter is in response to public hearings into the Gateway Pipeline that got underway earlier today in BC. The Gateway project consists of two parallel pipelines between an inland terminal at Bruderheim, Alberta, and a marine terminal near Kitimat, British Columbia, each a length of 1,177 kilometers.

The plan to build pipelines over mountains to ship Tar Sands oil to China will put some of our most pristine forests, lakes and salmon rivers at risk (not to mention the impact of climate change when the dirty oil is processed and burned). If the scheme goes ahead, the moratorium on oil tankers off the BC coast will be lifted. The moratorium has been in place since the 1970s. Successive Liberal, NDP, Conservative and even Social Credit governments have kept it in place because the people in BC support it.

So, here is a little of what Minister Oliver (read Federal Cabinet) had to say in his open letter about people like you and me:

“Unfortunately, there are environmental and other radical groups that would seek to block this opportunity to diversify our trade. Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth.”

“No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.”

“These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.”

Radical ideological agenda? Highjack the system?

Do you agree environmental groups and supporters who make their work possible are "radical?"

Are you pushing an ideological agenda when you express concern over environmental impacts from mega-projects like Gateway? Is it "radical" to participate in open public hearings meant to gather input toward a thoroughly studied, transparent and politically neutral decision?

I say if this is the government's operating definition, then absolutely—I AM A RADICAL.

I know the Exxon Valdez story so I know the facts don't support lifting the moratorium on oil tankers along the BC coastline. I know there are real, legitimate concerns about moving Tar Sands bitumen through 1177 kilometers of pristine wilderness and First Nations territory. And I know investor impatience is no reason to try to fast-track Mother Nature.

So … let's get a little radical! We e think Joe Oliver, Environment Minister Peter Kent, Prime Minister Harper and Opposition Party Critics will all appreciate hearing from you! Send them a letter explaining why you are a radical. Change it around to make it your own.


And if at all possible, DONATE $10 or $20 right now to the effort to counter this reckless pipeline and undemocratic government pushing it through.

Remember, you'll be in good company. As of yesterday, 4,522 individuals and 216 organizations had registered to speak at the Gateway Hearings. They include First Nations, unions, mothers, fathers, teachers, landowners and yes, environmental organizations.

The government does not want Canadians to take your legitimate objections to Gateway seriously, so it's resorting to misinformation and name-calling.

The moment is now. Tell the government I AM A RADICAL and donate $10, $20 or what you can today!


John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada

Follow John Bennett on Twitter

P.S. - I think investors can wait for a proper review that gives concerned Canadians their fair say about development in their country. I and other national environmental leaders want to strengthen people's right to be heard, but it takes money. Can you chip in $10 or $20 now so I can help bring Gateway back to earth?