Trading frigid winters for sweltering summers may not sound like such a raw deal, but it will be costly for Toronto, which is precisely why the report was commissioned to begin with. Our drainage system is already failing in heavy rainfalls, and the increased energy needed to cool buildings down in extreme heat is likely to strain our electrical grid. The real problem is that the report will only be used, if at all, to help guide a few of these infrastructural changes – not by any means to advise Toronto or Ontario on what we can do to help avert changes in the climate that by the middle of the century will certainly be worsening access to food and water in many of the world’s most populous regions on an unprecedented scale.
And, given the shifts in energy production that are ongoing in Canada today, it’s clear that we have a lot to contribute – or, at least, to prevent. But not one word about the climate was mentioned at the National Energy Board’s hearings on Enbridge Line 9 last fall. The Board would only hear testimony from “persons who, in the Board’s opinion, are directly affected by the project,”
thus forcing all of the critical discourse on the project into the important but limited subject of possible ruptures. It is important enough for those of us in the general public and in the environmental movement to educate ourselves about the science and ramifications of climate change, and yet we are confronting a system in which even the decision-makers themselves have been institutionally separated from the very information that might help them understand the consequences of their actions. There were, in fact, several reasons to question the process from the outset, and even on its own terms it should be seen as a failure and a face. To begin with, six of the seven members of the NEB themselves come from high-level corporate positions in the energy sector.
For these particular hearings, new bureaucratic regulations were implemented to make it extremely difficult for almost anyone to testify. The Board also demonstrated no interest in gaining the consent of First Nations which actually would be directly impacted by a spill.
On top of all this, the federal government, the government of Ontario,
and the government of Quebec all support the project.
And so, throughout the past year there has indeed been a feeling that the game was rigged. Our marches through the streets, the signs on our front lawns, and even the six-day occupation of Enbridge’s facility in Hamilton
were hardly acknowledged, because it was all too easy