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Liberals Call Conservative Interference In Northern Gateway Review Panel Unacceptable

OTTAWA – “Recent comments by Prime Minister Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe  Oliver in favour of pipelines are interfering with the independence of the National Energy Board panel set up to review Enbridge Incorporated’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, said Joyce Murray, Liberal MP from Vancouver Quadra and a former Environment Minister for British Columbia.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for the government to take a political position on these hearings just as the panel appointed to vet this proposed pipeline route is beginning to gather evidence from the public,” said Murray.  “The government’s declarations not only threaten to taint the outcome of these hearings, but they also further undermine the legitimacy of a panel that is already under question for being engineered to support the government’s position.”

Murray also said the government is wrong in attempting to demonize the project’s opponents, which include aboriginal groups, environmentalists and other BC residents concerned about the real risk of pipeline leaks and oil tanker spills that could damage some of Canada’s most pristine wilderness. Approval of the pipeline project will result in hundreds of tankers a year traversing a Pacific coastal zone that has long been out of bounds to Alaskan oil tanker traffic delivering oil to the continental USA, in order to protect B.C.’s coastal environment. A major spill would be devastating for coastal and aboriginal communities and a vast number of tourism and fisheries businesses.

“It is particularly hypocritical that the government criticizes these groups for receiving support from international organizations. Groups on all sides of this issue are funded by both Canadian and international interests. And some of the largest investors in Canada’s oil sands are from outside Canada,” said Murray.

“I support the sustainable management of Canada’s oil and gas resources; when developed responsibly they are important assets for Canadians providing business opportunities and jobs. But the Conservative government has no business interfering in a review of a proposed project that poses significant risks for BC’s ecosystems, communities and economy.”

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