On August 23, B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix announced that, as Premier, he would serve 30 days notice within his first week in office that an NDP government would pull out of the federal process reviewing the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project and substitute a provincial environmental assessment. Dix’s statement opens the door for NDP support for the pipeline, suggesting that he would leave the final decision on the pipeline to be decided by the provincial environmental assessment process.

The position the B.C. NDP stated in its letter to the Joint Review Panel was in opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. At that time, Dix indicated the NDP was seeking a legal opinion about whether the project could be stopped if it receives approval under the federal review.

Although constitutional lawyer Murray Rankin says that there might be ways to legally stop the project, Dix intends to go the environmental assessment route rather than simply saying no.

“I am profoundly disappointed but not surprised by this change in the NDP position,” says Jane Sterk, leader of the Green Party of B.C. “The provincial environmental assessment process is weak and virtually all projects are approved. It was provincial environmental assessment, after all, that approved the Prosperity Mine project only to have it rejected federally.

“The NDP is essentially taking the same position on Enbridge as they do on Site C–to wait for the results of the environmental assessment,”Sterk says.

The B.C. environmental assessment process was weakened under the BC Liberals from improvements made under the B.C. NDP. But even under the NDP the process was inadequate.

The BC Green Party claim that if elected they would “reform the environmental assessment process and appoint an independent commissioner for environment and sustainability, mandate sustainability as the primary purpose of environmental assessments, and make mandatory environmental assessments on all projects, plans, decision, and actions that may have environmental impacts.”

“If Dix had announced that the BC NDP would improve the environmental assessment process and how they would do so, yesterday’s announcement might represent a principled position,”Sterk continues. “As it stands, it is a typical NDP strategy to appear to stand for one thing when, in fact, they are taking a wait and see approach, which leaves the final decision to some external review process.

“I hope NDP members and the general public demand that the NDP take clear and definitive positions on Enbridge and all other issues facing B.C. before next year’s provincial election. For over a decade, the BC Liberals have been saying one thing and doing another. It’s sad that we might simply exchange Liberal duplicity for the same thing from the NDP,” Sterk concludes.

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