Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

 

Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal:
Exercising Self-Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

Hailey Troock

Submitted to the Panel Indigenous Self-Determination and Autonomy in Latin America and Canada: Emerging Pathways Toward Decolonization CALACS Conference, Kelowna, BC May 18, 2012

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  Prologue, the state of things
Originally, I wrote this paper for a Conference that took place at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, for a panel on Indigenous Self-Determination and Autonomy in Latin America and Canada: Emerging Pathways Toward Decolonization, which took place on May 18th, 2012. It is now September 18th, four months later, and I remain interested and concerned about the events surrounding the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal (ENGPP). This paper is not for commercial ends. It is a work in progress, as the affair continues, and it is meant to provide a consolidated source of information, as well as several points for continuing both relevant and essential discussions surrounding the ENGPP. Despite the relative hollowing out of the legitimacy of the Joint Review Panel (JRP) through the revocation of its autonomy in relation to the final decision being transferred to the upper echelons of the Federal Government, final hearings are currently undergoing in Edmonton, Alberta, ending up in Prince Rupert by December of this year. From there, community hearings for oral statements will continue in different cities through out the province in the new year, only 12 months before the expected delivery date of the JRP’s final report. In August, news reports came out following the release of a report on Enbridge’s conflict after one of its pipelines experienced a spill in 2010 in Michigan, USA. Also in August, reports of various religious groups, churches and diocese having openly opposed the pipeline were published. Furthermore, Enbridge has faced criticisms over a misleading video, as Enbridge later argued, one that was “broadly representational”, which essentially erased 1000km2 of land from Douglas Channel, yet another campaign that has fuelled local resistance to the proposal. The JRP is largely the result of the government's attempt to consult with locally affected groups and First Nations communities. In reference to self-determined development, this paper refers largely to the legally defined selfdetermination for Indigenous Peoples outlined in the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 169, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the obligation regarding “free, prior and informed consent” in relation to First Nations territories through which the pipeline corridor proposes to cross and these communities directly affected by the construction and potential risks of an oil spill. At the beginning of August 2012, the Minister of the Environment, together with the National Energy Board, amended the Joint Panel Review Agreement, enacting a time limit for the submission of the Panel’s report, December 31, 2013, or 543 days after the coming into force of the Canadian Environment Assessment Act 2012, the continuing aftermath of the C-38 Omnibus Budget Bill, passed in June 2012, following almost a day-long voting marathon in Canadian Parliament. Indigenous Peoples are nations living within the borders of nation-states and their right to exercise self-determined development remains a challenge. The reality of the JRP and its limitations as an autonomous instrument for addressing the nation-state's legal responsibility to adhere to the UNDRIP or ILO Co. 169 reflects this challenge. Those First Nations communities seeking to exercise their rights are doing so within a Canadian political landscape whereby regional disparities and interests are facilitating a parallel, albeit separate, struggle for the larger civil society in British Columbia to protect their natural environment against corporate, Albertan and “national” interests. Exercising self-determination in the reality of B.C. and context of the pipeline affair reflect conflictive situations among actors and stakeholders with differing interests. While the hearings continue, Canada’s scientific ranks continue to be trimmed down. British Columbia’s Fishery and Oceans habitat staff has been cut in half from its numbers compared to those of only ten years ago. This is accompanied by the disbandment of the marine contaminant group, those involved in any potential oil spills, as well as the closing, or severely cutting back the operations of, essential institutional environmental pedestals of Canada’s environmental policy, including the Yukon’s Kluane Lake Research Station and the Experimental Lakes project in B.C., due to budget cuts.

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

 
According to a recent Living Oceans report, support for pipeline proposals is rapidly declining1. In September 2012, the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) is “voting for a third straight year on a resolution related to oil pipeline and tanker proposals”, according to the Notankers petition, being heavily circulated online. Many communities in British Columbia have come together to voice their concerns over the handling of the ENGPP. Provincial elections will be taking place in B.C. in May 2013. No doubt, the Enbridge and tanker discussions will play a decisive role in who voters choose to lead the province forward in undoubtedly heated discussions over both local, regional and, to a certain extent, national interests, more specifically in the context of land and human rights, regional/vertical politics, energy and the environment. Taking into account the various civil society movements, including the continuing struggle by First Nations groups to make their voices heard when up against so many other actors, the paper’s name should rightly be called the "Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development (from below and above) within a Mediated Policy Environment". - Hailey Troock 18 September 2012

“Without techniques of visualization, without symbolic forms, without mass media, etc., risks are nothing at all” -Ulrich Beck, 2006: 332 Living in the world risk society

“I remain very hopeful that the aboriginal communities will see the enormous benefits to them of these projects. It is up to them to negotiate the best deal that they can, and in the meantime, to be heard.” -Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, January 24th, 2012 Speech at the BC Chamber of Commerce “We have to determine our own future... if we wait, nothing will happen” -Ta’Kaiya Blaney, Sliammon Nation Earth Day event East Vancouver, April 22, 2012

                                                                                                               
1

http://www.livingoceans.org/media/releases/tankers/new-poll-shows-pipeline-and-tanker-concerns-rank-higher-h

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  Introduction It would be almost impossible to have read Canadian media during the first few months of 2012 without finding a story related to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal to pipe Oil Sands crude to the port of Kitimat, where it would then be sent to Asia on super tankers. This proposal would require the Canadian federal government to give a green light to the construction of a pipeline that would pass through un-ceded Indigenous territories. This proposal has encountered considerable opposition that provides great insight into the current state of affairs in Canadian policy. Almost every week, new information about the proposal and its opposition is published through mainstream newspapers and new media, such as blogs, online petitions and audio-visual campaigns. This paper, therefore, seeks to engage in exploratory research regarding how the relationships between the media, public policy and social movements, such as that of First Nations for Self-Determination or so-called ‘environmentalists’ against the Oil Sands, plays out. On one hand, the project has been framed as beneficial for the Canadian ‘nation’ because of the economic growth that would occur in the Oil Sands industry; on the other, the proposal represents a limitless panorama of “risks”, primarily environmental but also legal and social. This discussion is taking place within a policy environment whereby long-standing ‘policy legacies’, which have historically limited the nature and extent of choice that policy-makers have had in considering subsequent decisions (Howlett, Ramesh & Perl, 2009: 200), are being radically altered under a Conservative majority government. This paper will utilize the case of the Enbridge proposal (ENGPP) and the Joint Review Panel Consultations (JRP) in order to provide an overview of the events and discussions involving civil society, First Nations and environmental groups in this new policy environment, through the theoretical lenses of political economy, public policy, media studies and the risk society (Beck, 2009). Taking into account the interdependence of these aspects that compose the Canadian socio-political landscape, and the implications of this interdependence, is imperative when seeking to understand the opportunities for successfully exercising the right to SelfDetermination in Canada and the emerging, mediated, paths towards decolonization. Part I: The Enbridge Pipeline Affair Extraction: this (Political) Economy is that of Canada Canada has an extractive economy. In such an immense, young nation-state, the practice of exploiting “our natural wealth” has become engrained into a national psyche. It not uncommon for a Canadian to be directly or only one degree of separation from someone who works in an industry that is dependent upon oil, gas, logging, minerals, construction or fishing. Salmon and lobster on the East Coast, oil and gas extracted from the soils of the prairies, Yukon gold, the diamonds of the Northwest Territories and the lumber of British Columbia; the

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  nation-state that is Canada has created much of its wealth through the extraction of resources from the earth and oceans. Going into the trades, for example, has been increasingly supported through government policy. The Federal Budget has offered incentives in order to encourage employment (Pyper, 2008: 5). Eight per cent of Canadian employment is composed of the trades, some 1.1 million in 2007, earning six per cent above the average non-trades wage (ibid: 7; 12). In Alberta, the epicentre of the tar sands industry, employment of trades people increased by six per cent in the 20 years leading up to 2007 (ibid: 9), reflecting the nation’s increasingly visible domestic migratory labour flows to the ‘Forts’ of the northern regions of Western Canada. In fact, approximately one-quarter of all plumbers, pipefitters and gas fitters in the country work in Alberta (ibid). More than 1.2 million people are employed in the Canadian construction industry, having increased by over 50 per cent in the last ten years. Six per cent of the country’s GDP is earned through the construction industries, which, in the last decade, saw an increase in GDP value more than twice that of other industries (Statistics Canada, 2012). Calgary, as the epicenter of the oil corporations in Canada, has seen an increase of its total gross domestic product by 35 per cent during the first ten years of the new millennium, while during this same period the national rate grew by only 20 per cent (Tait & Wingrove, 22 April 2012). In a speech given at the BC Chamber of Commerce, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver pleaded his case regarding the economic importance of the Oil Sands and the pipelines required for crude oil exportation for the Canadian welfare state.
“If Canada does not move to supply the burgeoning Asian market for energy, someone else will and Canadians will have lost out on billions and billions of economic benefits that can support our quality of life for generations… If the Oil Sands are fully developed — if we can build the infrastructure — we are talking about $3.3 trillion in economic activity over the next 25 years, up to 700, 000 jobs on an annual basis for Canadians and hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues to governments in the form of taxation that will fund our social programs like health, like education and pensions (Hamilton, 24 January 2012).

In this sense, the Enbridge proposal for the construction of the Northern Gateway Pipeline, if approved, would put in motion the transport of over 500, 000 barrels of crude oil across the northern region of British Columbia to Kitimat, where over 830 additional local waterway transits would occur (Penty, 23 February 2012). With a proposed length of 1, 172 kilometres between Bruderheim, Alberta, and Kitimat, British Columbia, the project would consist of two separate pipelines, one carrying crude towards the Asian markets, the other bringing in imported condensates, used to thin oil sands crude in order for its pipeline transport. Peak construction employment is argued to be between two and three thousand jobs, building the pipelines, which are 914 and 508 millimeters in diameter, respectively. Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Ron Cannon claims “our economy has emerged from the global recession much better than other industrialized countries” and Canada is the

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  “best place in the world for businesses to grow and create jobs”, proudly championed by the IMF (Cannan, 4 April 2012). If approved, the ENGPP would represent an initial 5 billion dollar investment. Enbridge’s claims that the project would create 63, 000 person-years of employment during construction and 1, 146 full time jobs upon completion have been challenged (Lee, 2012). An Evolving Policy Legacy: This Budget is that of Canada When it was announced that Canada would be the first country to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol, Environment Minister Peter Kent argued, in the foyer of the House of Commons (HoC) (12 December, 2011), "we believe that a new agreement that will allow us to generate jobs and economic growth represents the way forward”. In a policy environment increasingly concerned about issues of unemployment, economic growth and trade diversification and less concerned about environmental protection, debates surrounding large-scale development projects in the extractive and energy sectors have been dominating public discourse and reflect an evolving Canadian policy legacy. A quicker implementation for mega-projects in Canada has been in the works for several years, with significant regulatory reforms being pushed through budget legislation. In 2010, as part of the Jobs and Economic Growth Act, significant amendments were passed pertaining to the authority of the Minister of the Environment in environmental assessments. Bill C-9, the Budget Implementation Bill, delegated “scoping power” to the responsible authority in respect of any project (Birchall, March 2012), which means a further concentration of decision making power in the hands of the Cabinet. Other amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) include shifting the authority to assess the environmental impacts of large energy projects from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to nuclear safety and energy bodies. Furthermore, “routine public infrastructure projects”, through Bill C-9, would no longer face environmental assessments (ibid). Only two years later would a Standing Committee on Environmental and Sustainable Development make recommendations regarding this agency, as required through its statutory seven-year review. Recommendations were made that would later be incorporated into the Budget 2012-2013 as reforms. Relevant recommendations within this discussion include: increased Ministerial authority in relation to “major projects” aimed at the elimination of the duplication of environmental assessments and a consideration of the projects’ effects on the capacity of renewable resources to meet current and future needs, which means that a company has an easier ability to implement projects that may have adverse long-term impacts on the environment. Additionally, the reforms would introduce timelines for assessments, which will make them go faster, and focus the CEAA’s application only on projects of “environmental significance”, without fully defining what this “significance” means, as well as the use of external (“another jurisdiction”) assessments to fulfil federal process requirements (ibid: 2-9). For instance, on

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  June 21, 2010, the Liberal government, under the leadership of Gordon Campbell (now appointed as High Commissioner of Canada to the United Kingdom of Great Britain), “relinquished the province’s right to its own environmental assessment process for major resource projects and instead accepted the federal National Energy Board’s as an equivalent” (Hume, 20 April 2012). These incremental reforms have facilitated what has pushed Elizabeth May, the only Green Party MP in the HoC, to lay claim that the current Budget is “the worst in the history of Canada” (May, 30 March 2012). There have been doubts raised by the Parliamentary Opposition in the Budget 2012-2013 discussions regarding whether or not the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) would have won majority if the government had campaigned on its real intentions (PoC, 30 March 2012). May argues that this initiative of the “one project, one review” will be in the opposition of full, fair, transparency and unbiased review through “fasttracking and railroading” towards an end that “flies in the face of the best interests of this country economically and environmentally”. Similarly, the New Democratic Party (NDP) MP, Ms. Rosana Doree Lefebvre, frames this cutting back on environmental protection legislation as facilitating a quicker implementation of megaprojects such as that of the ENGPP. CPC MP David Anderson argues, “while the no development party (read: NDP) is opposing all investment in the Canadian economy, our government is creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs” (ibid). The narrative continues by arguing that, as a result, in moving “Canada’s economy forward”, there is a “need to modernize a one project, one review regulatory system”, benefitting industries across the country, including BC’s mining industry. The Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent (CPC), goes as far as stating that the NDP’s lobby “against new jobs in the resource sector” and its “campaign against responsibly regulated resource development” negatively impacts their “credibility” in their “professed concern for the environment” (ibid). According to Kent, a “clear commitment” was shown in relation to an “active and fully forced environmental agenda” (ibid). NDP MP from the Western Arctic, Mr. Dennis Bevington, questions this clear commitment of the government by pointing to the elimination of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which was set up to “provide crucial advice to government about addressing climate change while growing our economy” (ibid). Environment Minister Kent responds by arguing the Internet, organizations and university-based services can provide the same services as the Board. All of this, he believes, is “is good news for the economy, for the environment and for Canada” (ibid). The 2012 - 2013 Budget has not sufficiently, nor effectively, explained how the changes are good for, or how they could possibly be, good for all the Peoples of Canada and its environment. In fact, this lack of serious debate in Parliament has provoked commentary regarding “how far Parliament has fallen”, calling it essentially a rubber stamp for Harper’s Cabinet, an “omnipotent, ceremonial body and little more” (Coyne, 30 April 2012). The Omnibus Budget Bill, Bill C-38, an Act to implement specific provisions of the tabled Budget:

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

 
“amends some 60 different acts, repeals half a dozen, and adds three more, including a completely rewritten Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It ranges far beyond the traditional budget concerns of taxing and spending, making changes in policy across a number of fields”.

In the Parliamentary debate of this bill, a comment by Elizabeth May reflects upon its implications, as she requests the Prime Minister to separate out the bills that are environmentally imperative in order for the appropriate committee to discuss them.
“Bill C-38 is 420 pages of omnibus abuse of parliamentary process, pushing changes to environmental laws, which will never go before an environment committee and never go before a fisheries committee” (PoC, 27 April 2012).

The Budget also implies further cuts to Fisheries and Oceans, which could potentially speed up project approvals (O’Neil, 25 April 2012) and a reduction of 88 million dollars from Environment Canada, as well as the elimination of the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy, because the same information can be sourced from their “mature and expanded community of environmental policy stakeholders”.2 Charities that receive foreign funds and participate in political activity are commanded, also, by the Budget to provide further details regarding the origins and use of their funds. This, along with other measures of the Canada Revenue Agency Charities Directorate, will cost 8 million dollars over two years, despite only 0.2 percent of the 86, 000 registered charities receiving foreign funds and only 500 charities participating in political advocacy (Waldie, 2 April 2012). Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, Cathy McLeod (CPC) argues that the changes introduced within the Charities Directorate will “provide education to charities to ensure they are operating within the laws and with more transparency to Canadians who donate so generously”. This is ironic considering “more than 35 per cent of all the assets and more than 40 per cent of the profits from oil and gas extraction and related activities in Canada are under foreign control” (Hume, 9 January 2912). However, it did not take long for the changes to the Charities Directorate to come into practice against those opposed to the Enbridge proposal. On April 24, Canadian environmental advocate David Suzuki’s Foundation was the subject of a 44 page letter sent from EthicalOil, an Oil Sand’s lobbying organization linked to the Prime Minister’s Office (Gillis, 12 January 2012; Price, 17 January 2012), to the Canada Revenue Agency, citing that its charitable status should be reviewed due to reasons such as “frequent condemnation of government” and “persistent calls to action” (EthicalOil, 24 April 2012). The direct attack on Suzuki’s Foundation is, however, not surprising, considering that as a longstanding environmental advocate, he has championed the view that “in our haste to keep                                                                                                                
2

Though on another point: it was later made public that before the Budget was being presented, the media were all studying it over outside of the HoC, while the Robo-calls scandal and potential Elections fraud were being discussed in the House; this is argued to have been a direct strategy to limit the media’s attention to this scandal (Chase, 23 March 2012).

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  the economy growing, we forget that it is the web of all living things that creates and maintains a biosphere habitable for animals like us”. Suzuki’s powerful words3, reflect the crossroads at which all humankind is found, a global condition that is not in the economic interest of the country’s oil and mining interests or necessarily the current Government’s mandate. The Enbridge Proposal: A Matter of National Interest? “Enbridge has framed the Northern Gateway Proposal as a matter of national interest, as it would help Canada become less reliant on a single oil export market: the United States. The ability to ship crude to Asia would get Canadian oil producers a better price for their crude. Suncor Energy Inc., Total E&P Canada, Cenovus Energy Corp., Nexen Inc. and MEG Energy Corp. are among the oil sands producers who back Northern Gateway” (Canadian Press, 10 January 2012). The proposed pipeline would eliminate the Canadian ‘Discount’ of 25-30 Canadian dollars per barrel of oil resulting from it being landlocked in the U.S. instead of it being shipped to overseas markets (Mann, 26 April 2012). To reduce this proposal down to a constructed idea of a “national” good is to assume that all the people of Canada, as it is a nation not of one but of many peoples, is problematic. In Canada, for instance, as a result of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, First Nations have “unextinguished aboriginal title to the land and has the sole legal right to possession and occupation of their traditional land” (AFN, n.d.). Self-government is recognized as a precondition for the improvement, economically, socially and politically, of First Nations communities (ibid). The Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal peoples in relation to any project that may influence their relationships with both the land and traditions has been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada. For the ENGPP to go ahead without the support of First Nations, whose territories it proposes to cross, would be a violation of these rights. The anomaly of nationalism/nationality is a cultural artefact of a particular kind, a social construction, one that arises out of documentary evidence and creates an identity and sense of “our own” history (Anderson, 2006). The idea of the nation, besides being a cultural artefact, holds different meanings. “A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle” constituted by two things, one of which is “the will to perpetuate the value of the heritage that one has received in an undivided form” (Ranen, 1990: 19). What could constitute a “nation” goes beyond the, often, shallow generalizations that all the individuals and values that comprise Canadian society are homogenous. A national idea is based upon the social capital of our ancestry, sharing common glories and a common will, performing “great deeds together” and wishing to perform more are the essence of being a people (ibid). The Assembly of First Nations, a governing body, expresses the desire of First Nations in Canada, in this sense, to be interdependent with other governments in Canada. It argues that, as                                                                                                                
3

In the Foreword of Wade Davis’s book entitled The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass.

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  Canadians have self-government, within a “constitutional framework”, First Nations also require the same tools “including the funds and the skills that make up the infrastructure of a government” because currently they “do not have these tools, nor do they have selfgovernment” (AFN, n.d.). The Assembly understands the project that is Canada as one contributed to and built by those who have migrated here throughout history, by choice. “This exercise of self-determination has made Canada a self-sufficient nation”, a nation whose first inhabitants, those peoples composing all of its other nations, were subjected to the Indian Act and atrocities, such as those committed in the nation-state of Canada’s Residential Schools, and stripped of their own ability to self-govern (ibid). Today, the allotment of the federal funds for the programs and services administered within and involving First Nation’s communities remain dictated by the Federal government but they themselves “must be allowed to develop the tools required to do this task and do it well” (ibid: 11). In Canada, the Cabinet and the bureaucracy, currently representing a Conservative majority, are often solely responsible for making many policy decisions. As a result of this concentration of policy authority in the hands of a Cabinet, instead of the elected officials comprising the House of Commons, there are less access points for influencing the outcomes of the policy process. As a result, this type of closed policy environment will continue to make it difficult for civil society, including First Nations, to lobby the government to respect their rights to SelfDetermination through official policy channels. In this sense, “states are… created institutions reflecting the needs of class forces operating in the world-economy… within the framework of an interstate system… which limit the abilities of individual state machineries … to make decisions” (Wallerstein, 1977: 33). In an interstate system, transnational and corporate interests, within a prevailing capitalist system, hijack democracy. Therefore, the interests of international capital begin to dictate what is the ‘national’ interest.

Source: Opinion 250, 19 January 2012

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  The Enbridge Proposal: A Source of Risk? In 1966, Kenneth Boulding wrote “on earth, there has been something like a frontier… always some place else to go when things got too difficult”. Humans always felt, in this sense, that there would always be resources available for the propagation of human life and the consumption patterns characteristic of industrialized society (or as Boulding calls it, a ‘cowboy economy’). However, already then this frontier had largely diminished. Urbanization, consumer culture and globalization have brought the Earth towards an ecological tipping point (Foley, 19 March 2012) with nowhere to turn around. That is why he argues that the past’s “cowboy economy”, a characteristic of open societies, should be replaced by the “spaceman economy”, one that understands that the Earth lacks “unlimited reservoirs of anything” (Boulding, 1966). Economists, in particular, have failed to come to grips with the idea of the earth being ‘closed’, where systemic outputs are linked to inputs of other parts, which are not unlimited. There is a carrying capacity of our natural world that the hegemonic system of production, distribution and trade, capitalism, has only remained ignorant of; a mechanistic separation of humans from the Earth, a worldview that separates man from nature (White, 1967; Gonzales & Gonzalez, 2005; Merchant, 1992). In this race towards development, the individual right of accumulation has overtaken a communal lifestyle and a more reciprocal relationship with the land. In a society and politico-economic environment that has yet to understand the complexities and consequences that come along with the transition to a limited “spaceman economy”,
“conservationist policies almost have to be sold under some other excuse which seems more urgent… many of the immediate problems of pollution of the atmosphere or of bodies of water arise because of the failure of the price system, and many of them could be solved by corrective taxation” (Boulding, 1966).

When Boulding wrote this, he could not have foreseen the resonance that this observation would have almost 50 years later in Canada and its proposed Federal Budget of 2012-2013, which includes corporate tax breaks for resource sector development4, low taxes on higher incomes and little consideration for the real and holistic value of the regions’ natural resources. Instead of adhering to the “spaceship economy’s” price system, which takes into account the real environmental costs of producing goods, providing tax breaks to multinational energy companies to further exploit the Athabasca Oil Sands is a truly Albertan “cowboy economy” practice.                                                                                                                
4

It has been estimated that the federal government could “save more than $1.3 billion per year if it phases out all of the existing subsidies for the oil, gas and coal industries” (De Souza, 17 March 2012). Despite advise in 2010 to put a stop to several tax incentives and fossil fuel exploration and development subsidies, on March 29, 2012, these were presented in the Federal Budget in the Canadian House of Commons.

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  Additionally, besides the fact that there are no unlimited reservoirs of anything, there is another factor that must be considered when talking about the ENGPP. While one can succumb to the potential economic gains of the ENGPP, the risks that accompany it could be further reaching than the trickle down effect of Oil Sands’ profits. The notion of ‘risk society’, proposed by the German sociologist Ulrich Beck can help to understand this situation. In a “classical industrial society”, he proposes, “the ‘logic’ of wealth production dominates the ‘logic’ of risk production”; in other words, economic gains outweigh potential risks, while “in the risk society, this relationship is reversed” (Beck, 1992: 12). Risks are defined “in terms of environmental degradation” (Cottle, 1998: 6) and are produced with disregard of the consequences. The potential for oil spills, environmental degradation, threatens to become catastrophic for the province, due to the fact that the pipeline would cross almost all major river systems and the headwaters of fish bearing rivers and streams. Additionally, it has the potential of becoming an environmental disaster in the Pacific Ocean, as much as the Exxon Valdez was in Alaska or the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, where seafood deformities are alarming scientists and fisherman (Jamail, 20 April 2012). Risks are, therefore, the believed expectation of catastrophes (Wimmer & Quandt, 2006: 341). A risk turns into a catastrophe when short-term benefits overlook the potential for long-term consequences, as we have witnessed in Chernobyl, the mad cow disease in Britain and the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan. The human condition in the twenty-first century is defined by being at global risk (since the risks have global implications). In this “cowboy” politico-economy, policy-makers overlook the long-term consequence in support of the shortterm benefit, creating and recreating a global risk society. For instance, CPC MP David Anderson argues that environmental protection will be “enhanced” by the Budget changes, including “more safety measures for pipelines and tankers” (PoC, 30 March 2012); however, it was published in several media sources on April 19th, 2012, that the Federal Government will be closing down B.C.’s command center for emergency oil spills (Shaw, 19 April 2012). It is ironic that, while Alberta oil interests attempt to undertake some of their most crucial business deals to date, which involve endless possibilities of environmental risk and involve hundreds of actors, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy is scrapped and B.C.’s oil-spill emergency centre is set to close its doors. Furthermore, the Enbridge proposal, like other proposed pipelines, entails not only environmental risks, but also social and human rights related risks as well. If risks cannot be prevented then effective management through reduction, mitigation and remediation are imperative (Seier, 16 January 2012). Neither “human rights due diligence” nor “human rights impact assessment” are found on Enbridge’s website (ibid). Furthermore, the management of risk would be next to impossible, considering
“that the implementation of new regulatory, staffing, training, technology and infrastructure requirements necessary to reduce navigational hazards to an acceptable level and respond

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

 
to oil spills in such a challenging environment would take 5 – 7 years and cost a minimum of $500 million – none of which has begun, let alone been budgeted for” (ibid).5

Business and human rights advocates argue that Enbridge should be obligated to undertake a comprehensive human rights impact assessment, which could identify “any adverse human rights impacts that do occur” in relation to the livelihoods that depend on the region’s resources. However, decreasing environmental regulations centers on potential gains, not risks, whether environment or human rights related. “There are over $500 billion in potential investment in our resource sectors. This investment will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in economic growth. However, we are competing with countries around the world for this investment. It is not guaranteed. We cannot sit back and just wait for it to happen” (PoC, 30 March 2012).6 In a global risk society, “the inequalities of definition enable powerful actors to maximize risks for ‘others’ and minimize risks for ‘themselves’. Risk definition, essentially, is a power game” (Beck, 2006: 333). Critics of the Enbridge proposal often reiterate the fact that the powerful actors, transnational energy corporations based in Alberta, for example, will gain from the pipeline, while the communities and environment of British Columbia face all the risk and little of the benefit. Both politics and business are also increasing sources of risk, instead of sources of its management (ibid: 336). Joint Review Panel Consultations On January 7th, 2010, the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC), comprised of eight member Nations and Bands, sent a letter to the mayors of British Columbia, outlining several key points of consideration for the debate of the pipeline proposal. There are pertinent conclusions from their Aboriginal Interest and Use Study, conducted during the period the proposal was first brought forward in 2005, including references to their un-extinguished aboriginal title and rights, the direct impacts on the communities, free, prior and informed consent, additional indirect impacts, the outweighing of the costs to the benefits and the need for community integration in the consultations. The CSTC also recommended a First Nationsled review process, involving all the First Nations along the proposed pipeline corridor, as well as meaningful involvement in the review process. Similar recommendations were made during the 2010 Statutory Review of the CEAA, in relation to consultations with First Nations. Improved incorporation, coordination and streamlining of Aboriginal consultation, Recommendation 15 states, is needed during the environmental assessment process. Roles, responsibilities, and the consultation process in general, according to the sixteenth Recommendation, need to be defined by the federal government, working with Aboriginal groups and the provinces and territories.                                                                                                                
5 6

Referencing Swain (9 January 2012). Boughen; Pallsier, CPC.

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  In February 2010, the Government of Canada released an Aboriginal Consultation Framework for the Enbridge project, in which it states that the Joint Review Panel will play a “key role in the federal government’s consultation of Aboriginal groups” (CEAA, 5 February 2010). This Panel, currently underway in different cities across British Columbia, is being implemented under the confines of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act and represents a response to several legal instruments at the Indigenous, national and international levels and, in addition, seeks to address concerns for corporate responsibility in relation to human rights. The review process is an obligation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), endorsed by Canada since November 2010, such as Article 32, which refers to the requirement of free and informed consent prior in relation to development projects that may affect their lands, territories or resources. The Panel, allegedly, seeks knowledge regarding how the impacts on the individuals and communities presenting oral statements and hearings “could be eliminated or reduced”. The Review Panel, nevertheless, is not designed to hear arguments in relation to the Oil Sands but only the specific details of the potential impacts of the ENGPP. However, the CSTC pointed out that the National Energy Board and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Joint Review was not developed in coordination with the First Nations they represent and that the process is flawed. The Joint Review Panel does not “have any mandate or direction to examine the impacts to our Aboriginal rights and title, which have not been extinguished by any government” (CSTC, 2011), considering that in British Columbia, “few land cessation treaties were made and as a result, a majority of the province is still under dispute” (Wilkes et al., 2010: 330). The CSTC also drew attention to the fact that the regulatory processes are inadequate to address First Nations’ rights and provide a proposal for a separate First Nations Review Process, which would require both federal and provincial legislative reforms. In January 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released an Alternative Report on Canada’s Actions on the UNDRIP. It cites the review process of the ENGPP as unjustly influenced, as “a decision has apparently already been made” by the Prime Minister and Minister of Environment (CERD, 2012: 12). Furthermore, in February 2012, the Yinka Dene Alliance, which includes three First Nations7 in northern BC, filed a complaint to the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination that seeks to “open an investigation of the government’s plans and has the power to make a finding that Canada has violated or is likely to violate its legal obligations under the Convention” (Yinka Dene Alliance, 24 February 2012). This claim was supported by comments such as that made by Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver, that if First Nations “remain unconvinced that the Northern Gateway pipeline is environmentally sound and an economic advantage to them, then the government is ready to justify that it has met its constitutional obligations to them” (Hamilton, 24 January 2012).                                                                                                                
7

The Nadleh Whut'en, Nak'azdli, Takla Lake, Saik'uz, and Wet'suwet'en.

 

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  It is believed that Enbridge’s rounds were made to First Nations groups and some money paid out in order to undertake studies and assessments, which would later be used to demonstrate consultation with First Nations groups (The Canadian Press, 14 February 2012). It is argued, however, that aboriginal court challenges will be likely to occur; with so many First Nations opposing the proposal, “the burden to provide accommodation is challenging”; for example, the Yekooche First Nation is cited as seeking to find a way out of the equity deal that was signed last year (ibid). Despite some First Nations preparing for the Panel hearings for two years, several Nations, such as the Nuxalk First Nation from Bella Coola, have pulled out, arguing that the Federal Government has already predetermined its approval of the project. A claim is also made that “support has been strong” in relation to the offers to First Nations of a 10 per cent stake in the project (ibid). However, this “strong support” is not reflected in reality.8 For example, the Gitxsan First Nation’s hereditary chiefs rejected the offer 28-8. While it is claimed that 20 equity-sharing deals with up to 43 First Nations along the proposed route have been signed, only two have made this public, with one rescinding and the other undertaking a legal review (ibid). A leaked copy of one of the agreements states that Enbridge “encourages the First Nation to participate in and support the Northern Gateway Project, through the regulatory process, during construction and throughout its lifetime of service to Canada's energy industry" (ibid). Nuxalk Hereditary Chief Charlie Nelson has raised concerns regarding how participation in a process driven by a government that has labeled First Nations as “socially dysfunctional”9 is possible. He asks “[w]here is the honour in the Crown stating that it's prepared to violate our constitutionally-protected Title and Rights before the work of gathering information on the scope of infringement is even done?" (Stoymenoff, 5 April 2012). The Opposition to the ENGPP and The Joint Review Panel On April 2, 2012, the Northern Gateway's Joint Review Panel cancelled the hearings in Bella Bella, citing insecurity reasons after its members were “met by about 200 singing and drumming protesters outside the airport" (Stoymenoff, 2 April 2012). Furthermore, reports have surfaced regarding “deliberately misleading and false information” provided by Enbridge in its attempts at “relationship building” with the Haida Nation (Stoymenoff, 10 January 2012). In March, a delegation from BC, including the Yinka Dene Alliance, went to Ottawa to send the message, “we will defend our Rights, no matter what bully tactics the federal government throws at us… Our decision has been made: Enbridge will never be allowed in our lands” (Stoymenoff, 13 March 2012).                                                                                                                
8 9

See Annex 1. Referring to recent controversial statements by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver at a March 21, 2012, Vancouver Board of Trade breakfast.

 

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  These oppositions, however, have not been isolated events. In August 2010, Kitimat was the site of a protest hundreds strong. Just over a month earlier, an Enbridge pipeline had spilled four million litres of oil into the Kalamazoo River. Six hundred protesters filled the streets of Prince Rupert, on February 4th, 2012. In Comox, the following month, 700 rallied (CVR, 31 March 2012). Local school children undertook a 48-hour hunger strike in Bella Bella, an act met by solidarity of the University of Victoria and the Lakota Nation in the United States (UVSP, 2012; Kistner, 3 April 2012). There are currently more than 100 First Nations in opposition against the ENGPP (Peterson, 1 February 2012), including those that have signed onto the Coastal First Nations Declaration and Save the Fraser Declaration, a coalition supported by civil society organizations such as the Dogwood Initiative, the Suzuki Foundation, Pacific Wild, CoAst, ForestEthics and Greenpeace to name only a few. Hundreds protested in Smithers during the JRP hearings on April 23rd (Stoymenoff, 24 April 2012). Earth Day in Vancouver saw a parade with obvious pipeline opposition (Stoymenoff & Pierce, 22 April 2012). Documentaries have been made.10 Ta’Kaiya Blaney, an eleven-year-old singer-songwriter of the Sliammon Nation, appears online in several videos from these protests (Youtube, 2012). She proclaims “we have to determine our own future... if we wait, nothing will happen”. The Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs, through their website, reflect a fierce opposition to the Enbridge proposal, utilizing several audio-visual median to get this message across (Wet’Suwet’En, 2012). A proposal like the ENGPP, for it to be meaningful, it should be not only viable economically and environmentally, but it should take into consideration the cultural and spiritual implications of indigenous relationships to the natural world, allowing space for Self-Determination:
“Disruptions to indigenous livelihoods, governance, and natural-world relationships can jeopardize the overall health, well-being, identity, and continuity of indigenous communities… Sustainable self-determination as a process is premised on the notion that evolving indigenous livelihoods, food security, community governance, relationships to homelands and the natural world, and ceremonial life can be practiced today locally and regionally, thus enabling the transmission of these traditions and practices to future generations” (Corntassel, 2008: 118-119).

The opposition mounting against the Enbridge proposal largely centres its arguments on the disruption of this Self-Determination, due to the inherent risks that a pipeline traversing over a thousand kilometres across pristine, untouched land with plentiful resources brings to their well being. This is not to mention the risks involved in Very Large Crude Carriers, outside the size and draft limitations set out in the World Guide to Port Entry for Kitimat, entering into this port (Stoymenoff, 23 April 2012). In response to the approval by Transport Canada to allow super tankers to navigate the waters of the proposed route, the Coastal First Nations’ Executive Director, Art Sterritt, cites safety                                                                                                                
10

Some documentary titles include: The Pipedreams Project, On the Line, Tipping Barrels – Journey into the Great Bear, Standup4Greatbear, spOIL, Cetaceans of the Great Bear Rainforest and OIL in EDEN.

 

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  issues such as treacherous passage ways, poor weather conditions and human error as being ignored or minimized by the government agency. He claims that the Coastal First Nation’s report entitled A Review of Potential Impacts to Coastal First Nations from an Oil Tanker Spill Associated with the Northern Gateway Project confirms the catastrophic economic, environmental and cultural damage that a spill would have. For example, a major oil spill in the Great Bear Sea could encompass damage in the neighborhood of 23 billion dollars (ibid). In an Open Letter to the Joint Review Panel, dated April 30th, 2012, B.C.’s NDP Official Opposition, signed by 35 MLAs from across the province and their leader, Adrian Dix, formally register their opposition to the ENGPP, claiming that the risks outweigh the benefits, referencing, among many risks, the potential loss of 7, 000 jobs, impacts on 39 species listed as threatened, endangered or of special concern, the subsistence of the marine-dependent activities of the Coastal First Nations and the 1, 300 marine vessel incidents reported along Canada’s Pacific Coast between 1999 and 2009 (LAPBC, 30 April 2012). Indeed, reiterating the fact that the pipeline would cross 800 rivers and streams, the risk “is just too great”. Furthermore, in reference to the Kinder Morgan expansion proposal, cited as a potential alternative to the ENGPP, Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson has openly proclaimed that the risks are too high for Vancouver (Robertson, 23 April 2012). Today, from coalitions of local governments and Official Opposition, to civil society organizations and First Nations joining forces by the hundreds, it has been said in many different ways but the message is the same. The CSTC letter campaign, which in 2010 sent letters to Canadian MPs and BC MLAs, among others, reiterated the argument that constructing two oil/condensate pipelines through their territories was “not worth the risk”. Part II: The Enbridge Proposal, the Media and the Politics of Risk We cannot deny that we live in a world that, in many ways, is largely shaped by what is said in the media. Let us take, as an example, Hjarvard’s definition of mediatization:
‘In earlier societies, social institutions like family, school and church were the most important providers of information... Today, these institutions have lost some of their former authority, and the media have to some extent taken over their role as providers of information and moral orientation, at the same time as the media have become society’s most important storyteller about society itself’ (in Livingstone 2009: 5).

The policy debate and the opposition surrounding the Enbridge proposal hold many insights. Media representations, coverage and discourses have the ability to influence to a great extent the ideas, images and opinions of the public. Therefore, it is important to deconstruct and reflect upon them in order to fully understand their potential impacts on the framing of the policy debate surrounding the ENGPP. Public policy, largely defined by the hegemonic public discourse pushing the public agenda, is a mediated process. This mediation defines how risks are represented and, therefore, they become a threat for hegemonic powers for the simple

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  reason that, “risks become visible when socially defined within knowledge or knowledgeprocessing fora such as…the mass media” (Beck in Cottle, 1998: 8). However, this situation brings up an environment that contests the legitimacy of the nationstate, due to the fact that the risks brought by the ENGPP, as well as the accompanying opposing public discourse, arise from the controversies over the consequences of the decisions taken by the people in power (Beck, 2006: 339). In this sense, “as the risk society develops so does the antagonism between those afflicted by risks and those who profit from them… new antagonisms grow up between those who produce risk definitions and those who consume them” (Beck in Cottle, 1998: 8). Within this interplay of antagonisms, the mass media provides a “key site in the social construction, social contestation and, further, the social criticism of, or social challenge to, risks and the deficiencies of institutionalized responses to these” (Cottle, 1998: 9). They are key in “constructing representations of environmental crises” (ibid: 11-12). This battle ultimately comes down to a key question, which Beck raises: “can we believe the politicians and the mass media, when the former declare there are no risks, while the latter dramatize the risks in order to maintain circulation and viewing figures?” (2006: 345). “Given the commercial and competitive underpinning to the mass media… it is likely that their representations of risk and ‘scientific battles’ may deliberately be framed in terms that resonate with ordinary concerns and popular culture” (Cottle, 1998: 15). What Cottle considers ecological journalism, encompassing the typification of the environment as a common good, receives high amounts of media interest. In a risk society, environmental concerns are subsumed by discourses of development (ibid: 16). Protest and Battle over the Media: ‘Folk Devils’, ‘Radical Enviros’ and First Nations A recent article in the Vancouver Sun (5 April 2012)11 discusses how “political parties all over the Western world are increasingly following the U.S. lead in using nasty ‘wedge’ politics”. A strategy used in order to “divide and conquer”, countering ones negative ratings by denigrating the opposition, thus denying them of their “legitimating role in the system”, the article claims that this phenomenon is increasing within Canadian politics. Following this view, the world becomes dichotomized: The Environmentalists versus the Economists, prosperity vs. no development. Complex issues are simplified for the consumption of the masses, propagating the idea that one must choose a side. Furthermore, it has been argued that the opposition to the Enbridge proposal has acted as a type of smokescreen for other pipeline proposals in the province, including proposals of the Pacific Trails Pipelines, Pembina, and Kinder Morgan (Hill, 23 August 2012).

                                                                                                               
11

Referencing Going Dirty author David Mark.

 

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  The “exaggerated and sensational construction of anti-capitalist protesters as ‘folk devils’” has “enabled the police to preemptively justify the use of strict and often questionable policing tactics” (Gitlin in McCurdy, 2012: 245-246). Also conceptualized as hegemonic mechanisms, media frames have the ability to “reflect and contribute to the creation of public discourse and understanding” (ibid). The discourse of describing opposition groups such as Greenpeace as “extremely organized and extremely sophisticated” (O’Neil, 5 April 2012), that its campaign “targets” Volkswagen, as it “doesn’t accept” the organization’s “climate change agenda”, provides an example. Furthermore, allegations have been made of environmentalists being called “enemies of the government of Canada”, within a scandal entitled EnemyGate (Frank, 3 February 2012). This could be compared to what Reguillo (2000) describes as fear by the hegemonic groups of Canada of “social disintegration brought by anti-establishment groups”, the opposition or, in this case, environmental groups, “operating internally”. The Enbridge proposal, in this sense, has “tapped into a big cultural divide in Canada… between Alberta and British Columbia… the oil sector and the people who aren’t involved in that…. the Harper Conservatives and other political parties” (The Canadian Press, 8 April 2012). This cultural divide is being propagated within all forms of media. This “green, oil tension” in Vancouver is making headlines, literally, in the Market Watch section of the Wall Street Journal (Mann, 26 April 2012). Progressive Conservative Joe Clark, the 16th Prime Minister of Canada, touches upon this use of wedge politics. “Mr. Harper’s party, [formerly] known as the Reform Party, began selfconsciously as a protest movement… moreover, their method is wedge politics, so there is scant domestic experience with brokering and embracing contesting points of view…. These significant departures from Canada’s traditional foreign policy should not be considered as rookie mistakes, but as deliberate policy” (ARB, 2012). Mainstream Media and Policy Processes Policy outcomes, adhering to positive understandings of it, are the result of a rational policy process. This process, involving five main stages, agenda setting, formulation, decisionmaking, implementation and evaluation, involves different stakeholders during each stage, all actors within a particular policy subsystem. The media as a tool for representation and a strategy can influence the policy process during several stages. In the case of the coverage of the Enbridge proposal and its opposition, media can have impacts on every stage. A multi-variable model of agenda setting involves several aspects. Issue-attention cycles focus on issues that temporarily capture public attention and generate demands for government action (Howlett, Ramesh & Perl, 2009). Cycles can be initiated by external or exogenous events then mediated by public attention, initiated by outside groups or systematically introduced. Policy windows can be used strategically, designed to stay closed for extended time periods or locked through fiscal devices, opened through random crises or events, or predictable institutionalized procedures.

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  Traditional media coverage, however, also has positive possibilities for social movements, such as the opposition of First Nations towards the ENGPP; therefore, they develop strategies in order to attract media attention, in order to have a say in media representation. The mainstream media “hold the upper hand” on social movements (Gamson and Wolfsfeld in McCurdy, 2012: 248) as it facilitates them with public mobilization, movement validation and scope enlargement; “reporting of conflict over an issue, opens that issue up for debate thereby potentially increasing the power of the social movement” (ibid). According to these authors, image in policy problems is significant; a key element that differentiates modes of agenda setting revolves around the manner in which specific subsystems gain the ability to control the interpretation of a problem and, thus, how it is conceived and discussed. During the decision making stage, the number of actors involved decreases. Non-state actors persuade, encourage, coerce, acting as a voice, not a vote (Howlett, Ramesh & Perl, 2009). There is an undeniable relationship between the media, political power and representation, as “power relations are increasingly shaped and decided in the communication field” (Castells, 2007: 239). Therefore, in respect to the democratic process, the media must be taken into consideration as a key actor within the agenda setting and decision making stages of the public policy process, the result of which is often argued to be in the “common good” or “national interest” by those in power. What Hall (in Hugill, 2010: 25) refers to as the “analytic boundaries of a given event or issue”, are constituted by news discourse, which play an important role in the public debate of an issue and therefore, the construction of the argument of a “national interest”. Media Coverage: A Bias Against First Nations Taking all this into consideration, for the First Nations who have signed on to exercise their rights to SD, the media has substantial power to act as either a friend or a foe in the policy process; whether this SD is recognized and strengthened through media discourse, or Indigenous Peoples, along with their allies, are framed as the potential problem, impediments to the national economic interest, ‘anti-development folk devils’. For instance, the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch represents the SD of Indigenous Peoples in Canada in relation to the Enbridge proposal as “a legal hurdle”, consisting of “deals that need to be cut with 40 local native tribes” (Mann, 26 April 2012). It is argued by First Nations in Canada that the traditional, mainstream, media has, traditionally, not played a significantly positive role in their struggle for SD or against injustice. The Assembly of First Nation’s argues that
“the “Indian industry”, and the Federal Government are blamed for “wasting” over $8 billion in program dollars each year…. It is an unfortunate but undeniable fact that,

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

 
historically, First Nations could not rely on the media and public support to compel governments to resolve injustice against them. A lack of broad understanding of the issues throughout the general public and a lack of interest in the mainstream media still renders public sentiment a tool that is only rarely of use to First Nation” (AFN, n.d.: 4-8).

The problem is that traditionally, the mass media does not empower people ―as producers of meaning to have voice in what the media make of what they say or do, or in a context within which the media frame their activity (Gitlin, 2003: 3). For instance, Wilkes et al. undertake the first study that attempts to compare the media coverage of Indigenous Peoples collective action across different events in Canada. During the period from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, 1, 801 articles covering 230 specific events were identified, largely concentrated in Ontario and British Columbia. B.C. was recognized as the province in which the most collective action by Indigenous Peoples had taken place. Almost half of the events were only covered by one article, which in total only generated five per cent of the total coverage. In contrast, a single event in 199012, received coverage of 400 articles in two papers. Furthermore, almost half of the events were only covered by one article and ten of the most covered events generated 50 percent of all coverage received by Indigenous Peoples’ collective action events. “By covering some events and issues more than others, the media works to characterize groups and events in a particular way… this, in turn, can impact public opinion and government policy on a range of issues related to Indigenous peoples” (Wilkes et al., 2010: 328). The authors found that, despite hundreds of events, only four were the subject of almost half of all prominent forms of packaging and they found the content to be extremely biased. “While it is not surprising that some events generate more coverage than others the imbalance in the coverage means that some events (the most dramatic and/or violent) are more likely to be seen as representative of these in events in the reader’s mind” (ibid: 344). The packaging or framing refers to the “persistent patterns of cognition, interpretation, and presentation, of selection, emphasis, and exclusion, by which symbol-handlers routinely organize discourse, whether verbal or visual” (Gitlin, 2003: 7). In other words, it is assumed, that in relation to any type of development project, the answer of Indigenous Peoples will always be “no” and, therefore, “deals must be cut”. These media frames are the response to a lack of depth in the analysis made by some journalists. It is essentially stereotyping; “media frames… organize the world both for journalists who report it and, in some important degree, for us who rely on their reports” (ibid). “Conventional journalistic processes both ‘assume’ and ‘construct’ such a consensus by offering modes of understanding that reflect the view that ‘we have fundamental interests, values and concerns in common’” (Hugill, 2010: 26). Media coverage and narratives “reproduce core assumptions about the consensual nature of Canadian society… [which]                                                                                                                 12  The Oka Crisis.  

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  operate to manage the crisis by providing compelling ways of seeing that occlude broader questions about the legitimacy of the prevailing political order itself” (ibid). In reality, Indigenous SD development should not be automatically assumed as synonymous with “anti-development” nor as just another obstacle needing to be paid off. Not all First Nations Peoples are opposed to the ENGPP, for example.13 Nevertheless, when one sits down to consider the sheer numbers of First Nations and other members of civil society who have signed up to provide oral statements at the Joint Panel Review14, for many, their traditions, cultures and ways of life are more beneficial than the “jobs and over $1 billion that Enbridge has already put on the table” (Hamilton, 24 January 2012). New Media and Social Movements “News discourses are instruments of knowledge production” (Hugill, 2010: 10), but as we have seen it can become a discourse that can be moulded and construct fear, as Rosanna Reguillo suggested, misconceptions, and frames, about “an opposition working internally” (Reguillo, 2000: n.p). The fact is that the prevalence of corporate conglomerates and ownership monopolies in the Canadian newspaper industry and traditional mass media play central roles in the misinformation about First Nations (Hugill, 2010: 16) and what they are really trying to achieve by opposing the Enbridge proposal. The increasing ownership and, therefore, control of the discourses produced and perpetuated in the news has consequences, therefore, for the movement itself. Narratives have the ability to both mislead and deceive, so to control the message of what is being said in the media is essential. “Individuals formulate their beliefs…within positions already fixed by ideology” (Hall, 1981: 18). Mass media institutions represent key sites of power, spaces where the production and distribution of ‘societal common sense’ takes place, that are largely shaped by the frameworks of “broader fields of dominant power”. Marginalization becomes a necessary by product (ibid: 19-22). Constructed and displayed in the media, “narratives are important sites for state actors and institutions to win legitimacy for their political preferences by establishing their practices within broader definitions of order” (Hugill, 2010: 25). As a result, it is important, when analyzing issues of SD, to expand not only readership of alternative news and information sources, but the production of them. Arguments of both proponents and sceptics of the Internet as a space for public participation exist (Papacharissi, 2002: 10; Bowen, 1996). Proponents argue that the Internet and its related technologies have the ability to open spaces for information and deliberative democracy, which Dahlberg (2001: 167) claims a place where “in free and open dialogue, participants put forward                                                                                                                
13 14

See Annex 1. Comments to Panel: 239; Intervenors: 221; Letters to Comment: 1680; Request to Make Oral Statement: 4466; Government Participants: 13 (NEB, 2012).

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  and challenge claims and arguments about common problems, not resting until satisfied that the best reasons have been given and fully defended”. For some deliberative democratic supporters, the Internet provides an “exemplary medium for facilitating such spaces” (ibid). The sceptics, in contrast, reiterate that the digital divide, unequal access to these technologies, or an “induce fragmented, nonsensical, and enraged discussion” (Papacharissi, 2002: 10), with an overload of information that does not necessarily leads to greater political activity (Bowen, 1996: 15), are limitations for the Internet to become a place that can provide substantial information. However, despite the skepticism, the Internet does provide numerous avenues for expression, which can “influence politics or become politically active” (Bowen, 1996: 13). “A virtual space that “enhances discussion; democracy” (Papacharissi, 2002: 11). The Internet comprises what is considered as part of the “new public sphere”, where the politics and culture of the future will play out, opening up to “new social relations and forms of political possibility” (Kahn & Kellner, 2004: 94). Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) are also able to foster collective identities across a dispersed population, which can be later mobilized by organizers in support of collective action (Garrett, 2006: 205). It is not ‘Clicktivism’, that obscure term that “uncritically embraces the ideology of marketing [as] it accepts that the tactics of advertising and market research used to sell toilet paper can also build social movements (White, 12 August 2010), that is being discussed here, as we have seen this year with the Kony 2012 movement, for example. It is about actual activism. Drawing an historical line from the 1994 EZLN uprising, to the Battle for Seattle in 1999, it is argued that “an international protest movement surfaced in resistance to neo-liberal institutions and their related globalization policies, while democracy, social justice, and a better world were championed” (Kahn & Kellner, 2004: 87-88). The same could be said about First Nations’ movements against the ENGPP. The “technoactivists” of the blogging sphere can increasingly favor a global media critique and journalistic sociopolitical intervention” (ibid: 89). Social movements’ abilities to be active and “counter-frame” has increased with the rise in ICTs, largely in the industrialized world, which facilitate planning, communication, diffusion and execution of acts of political contention (McCurdy, 2012: 248). In these acts of contention, social movements contest “views of reality but such media windows are small, fleeting, and constrained by the fact that the media rewards novelty, polemic, and confrontation” (ibid: 249). In this new media landscape, anticipatory resistance, is almost guaranteed:
“big companies are increasingly faced with anticipatory resistance to their decisions… no oil field explored without critical scrutiny by transnational NGOs... global risks enforce an involuntary democratization. Through public debate of consequences, a range of voices is heard and there is participation in decisions which otherwise evade public involvement” (Beck, 2006: 340).

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

  The opportunities for spreading messages brought by the New Media has provided social movements with what Dieter Rucht calls ‘Alternatives’ to the “extreme selectiveness in what mass media cover and which aspects they focus on” (2004: 36). These alternatives are an attempt of social movements “to create their own independent media… in order to compensate for a lack of interest, or bias on the part of established media” (2004: 37). These alternatives can also provide the means of counter acting the messages created by the mainstream media. In the sense, social movements can exploit these platforms to contest or to correct “inaccurate information [published about them] circulating in mainstream press coverage” (Russell 2001: 211). As an example, on April 30th, a national campaign entitled “The Freedom Train” set off, supported by the Yinka Dene Alliance, to further harness national support for “why they say no” to the ENGPP (YDA, 2012). Rallies, events and feasts in cities across the country strived to consolidate support on a national level when, eventually, 40 people representing 10 different Nations boarded the train to Ottawa. In solidarity, the Freedom Train, harnessed support through its website and through media coverage, recognizing strength in numbers when up against what they consider as the pipeline/tanker threat.
“Along with our more than 130 First Nations allies across BC and western Canada, our Nations are united as never before to protect against threats to our rivers, our ocean, and the plants, animals and fish that we rely on for our food, our livelihoods and our culture. We will not put them at risk” (ibid).

It is not only First Nations who can take advantage of these tools. “’Citizen journalism’, whereby ‘ordinary’ users “participate in the news process” (Goode, 2009: 1288), involves blogging, tweeting, as well as photo and video sharing. It provides “new possibilities for citizen participation at various points along those chains of sense-making that shape news – not only new possibilities for citizens to ‘break’ news” (ibid).15 For example, the Redwire Native Youth Media Society, “a collective of Native youth creating uncensored spaces for youth to find their own voice”, covered the Wet’suwet’en clan’s blockage of encroachment of drilling equipment from the Pacific Trails Pipeline. Through this blog, the youth explain how the pipeline, also known as the Kitimat Summit Lake gas pipeline, bought out by Apache Corporation and EOG Resources (formerly Enron), is being used by Enbridge to “mitigate their own ecological footprint” on their territory (Kleco, 2010). On April 3, 2012, Elizabeth May blogged a comment that provides much insight into the capabilities of the WWW to transform the Canadian public policy process. She explains how the 2012 Budget discussions of the Official Opposition, given by the NDP Finance Critic, Peter                                                                                                                
15

Context: the proportion of Internet users (let alone the population at large), which has to date engaged in any form of ‘Web 2.0’ activity (photo sharing, blogging, etc.), let alone with a news or journalism focus, remains relatively modest at around 25 percent (Goode, 2009: 1291-1292).

 

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  Julian, were dominated by the presence of social media. Three full days of the four-day budgetary comments, meant to “discuss the merits of the budget”, consisted of Mr. Julian reading out tweets, e-mails and Facebook comments, without making detailed budgetary comments, according to May. May continues in her blog that she, despite being a Member of Parliament sitting in the House of Commons, has no ability to formally comment on the Budget. However, through her Twitter account, she wrote a comment regarding how the budget did not include any reference or discussion of climate change. Her comment, later re-tweeted by a follower, was read out by Mr. Julian during the budgetary discussions (May, 3 April 2012). This is an example of how First Nations could use the social media to continue their struggle against the Enbridge proposal, in an attempt to exercise their right to self-determined development, upon their path towards decolonization. Conclusion There is no doubt that the Budget introduced in 2012, which will facilitate an increasingly unfavourable context for the protection of the environment and biodiversity, will have far reaching consequences for the ability of First Nations to protect their territories. The amendment providing ultimate decision making power in the hands of the Cabinet, regardless of the National Energy Board and Joint Review Panel’s conclusions, is a direct and open threat to the entire consultation process involving First Nations from across the provinces of B.C. and Alberta. Aside from the changes, the surrounding political climate of the Canadian democracy is also worrisome; the ability of First Nations to exercise self-determined development against the pressure of oil interests and a less than adequate means to formally present their concerns, not to mention the muzzling of governmental climate change scientists (Munro, 23 April 2012) and aggressive rhetoric towards environmental groups that have been acting as allies in the ENGPP opposition, will most likely continue to be challenged within this political environment, a landscape that, at first glance, may signal the beginning of the end of Canada’s policy legacy of environmental stewardship. Additionally, the idea of nation, for the governing class, is often constructed in terms of an economic –class based- logic, rather than in a logic that represents the mosaic of different peoples, which respects the SD of the First Nations in Canada. The mass media environment in Canada, as reflected through out this paper, often does not help them on their paths towards decolonization because it sometimes acts in favour of the singular Canadian ‘nation’. Since mass media “lay the bases for national consciousness” (Anderson, 2006: 44), they have also facilitated the construction of “our shared values” as Canadian citizens through the power-laden dissemination in the media and news.

 

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  Moreover, controversies like the ENGPP arise from the discussions over the consequences of the decisions taken by the people in power (Beck, 2006: 339). Since “risks become visible in the mass media” (Cottle, 1998: 8), the political class will also try to control the mass media in order to control the depths of that risk, the agenda setting and the public policy discussions. Discursive spaces, therefore, are needed for the exercise of SD in a rational public sphere. Despite the skepticism surrounding new media, the Internet does provide numerous avenues for political expression and several ways to “influence politics and become politically active” (Bowen, 1996: 13). However, this activism has to be both online and offline. The Enbridge opposition and First Nations struggle for SD within this opposition, so far, can be found within the typology of online collective action dimensions (Postmes & Brunsting, 2002: 291) as “collectivist, persuasive”, taking shape in Declarations and petitions, for example. Offline, this opposition has taken shape in the form of peaceful demonstrations. However, if the persuasive and peaceful nature of the opposition is insufficient to halt the plans of the Federal government to push through projects of “national interest”, the persuasive nature of advocacy could very quickly move into the confrontational dimension (ibid). Taking into account that, often, activist-produced information will “be eclipsed by better funded and more widely advertised mainstream alternatives” activists should utilize new ICTs in order to access established media outlets (Garrett, 2006: 215) and produce their own ‘alternatives’, “their own independent media” (Rucht, 2004: 37). The citizen journalism movement does not signal the end of agenda setting by professional or elite media organizations, the stories that professional news outlets break and frame will now routinely serve as raw material (Goode, 2009: 1293), which social movements can use to create their own discussions. Herein lies the hope and opportunity for civil society engagement and influence in relation to the media. Though the often narrow binary oppositions perpetuated by mainstream media in Canada and British Columbia facilitate limiting or one-sided representations, a wide variety of alternative and online coverage could provide some innovative and informative understandings of the context and debates taking place in relation to the Enbridge proposal, in general, and First Nations’ ability to exercise Self-Determination, in specific.

 

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  Annex 1

Source: Stoymenoff (28 April 2012) Works Cited
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B., Nixon, P., Rucht, D. (editors). Routledge. 29 – 56. Russell, A (2001) ‘Chiapas and the new news: Internet and newspaper coverage of a broken cease-fire’. Journalism 2. Seier, F (16 January 2012) ‘Northern Gateway: The other unheard argument – human rights’, in Rights2Respect, Available at <http://www.right2respect.com/2012/01/northern-gateway-theother-unheard-argument-human-rights/>. Shaw R (19 April 2012) ‘Oil-spill centre moving out of B.C.’, in Times Colonist, Available at <http://www2.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=e4610fc0-626c-4692-bc7aba948beef835>. Stoymenoff, A (10 January 2012) ‘Haida Nation Leader Outraged over Libelous Enbridge Documents’, in The Vancouver Observer, Available at <http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/2012/01/10/haida-nation-leader-outragedover-“libelous”-enbridge-documents>. Stoymenoff, A (13 March 2012) ‘B.C. pipeline opposition joined by eastern counterparts in Ottawa’, in The Vancouver Observer, Available at <http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/2012/03/13/bc-pipeline-opposition-joinedeastern-counterparts-ottawa>. Stoymenoff, A (2 April 2012) ‘Enbridge Northern Gateway protest in Bella Bella was “absolutely peaceful”, in The Vancouver Observer, Available at <http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/2012/04/02/enbridge-northern-gatewayprotest-bella-bella-was-absolutely-peaceful>. Stoymenoff, A (5 April 2012) ‘Nuxalk First Nations pull out of Enbridge Northern Gateway review: “no honour” in process’, in The Vancouver Observer, Available at <http://www.vancouverobserver.com/politics/2012/04/05/nuxalk-first-nations-pull-out-enbridgenorthern-gateway-review-saying-no-honour>. Stoymenoff, A and Pierce, D (22 April 2012) ‘Earth Day in Vancouver: parade, politics and pipeline opposition’, in The Vancouver Observer, Available at <http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/earthmatters/2012/04/22/earth-day-vancouverparade-politics-and-pipeline-opposition>. Stoymenoff, A (23 April 2012) ‘Marine and oil expert’s alarming critique of proposed Enbridge pipeline’, in The Vancouver Observer, Available at <http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/earthmatters/2012/04/23/marine-industry-expertsopen-letter-against-enbridge-pipeline-and>. Stoymenoff, A (24 April 2012) ‘As Northern Gateway pipeline hearings return to Smithers, community rallies for tar sands protest’, in The Vancouver Observer, Available at <http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/2012/04/24/northern-gateway-pipelinehearings-return-smithers-community-rallies-tar>. Stoymenoff, A (24 April 2012) ‘Northern Gateway Pipeline Hearings return to Smithers, community rallies for tar sands protest’, in The Vancouver Observer, Available at <http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/2012/04/24/northern-gateway-pipelinehearings-return-smithers-community-rallies-tar>. Stoymenoff, A (25 April 2012) ‘’Charitable Fraser Institute accepted $500k in foreign funding from Koch oil billionaires’, in The Vancouver Observer, Available at <http://www.vancouverobserver.com/politics/2012/04/25/“charitable”-fraser-institute-accepted500k-foreign-funding-oil-billionaires>. Stoymenoff, A (28 April 2012) ‘First Nations resist Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline with crossCanada Freedom Train’, in The Vancouver Observer, Available at

 

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Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal: Exercising Self Determined Development within a Mediated Policy Environment

 
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