As many of you know, I am the person who stood up Enbridge’s new Incident Management System after the Michigan spill. I know a lot about incident management generally, and at Enbridge in particular. Also, I am a Metis of Algonquin descent from the Ottawa Valley. Environmental management, Enbridge, and Indigenous communities profoundly matter to me. Accordingly, in light of Prime Minister Harper’s approval of the Northern Gateway project, I have a comment to make.
Rigorous construction standards and management of any pipeline is a must. The assumption that there will be failures is also a must. A standing capacity to address major issues is a must.
More importantly, my experience tells me that the only way for the Northern Gateway to be a safe pipeline is for there to be transparency, trust, cooperation and investment among all stakeholders. Chief among the Gateway’s stakeholders are the Indigenous people of B.C.
If the Indigenous people of B.C. can be shown that the Northern Gateway pipeline is safe, economically valuable to them, and in their long-term interest, then there is sufficient evidence for me to believe the pipeline can be built and operated safely. Conversely, if the Indigenous people say in the end, ‘No’ then there is likely not enough management transparency to build a safe pipeline.
Notwithstanding what I know about economics, incident management, and project management, the bottom line for the fate is the Northern Gateway currently is — and should be — the judgment of the Indigenous People of B.C. I stand with their “nay” or their “yea”.
Transparency and trust among all stakeholders is the most critical litmus test of the safety of any major project.