How B.C. can stop oil tanker plans

If you live in B.C. you have the power to stop the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan oil tanker and pipeline proposals from going ahead (if you live outside of B.C., don’t worry you’re part of the plan; we’ll have more on that soon).

That’s because you have the power to influence provincial, municipal and federal politicians in B.C. who can stop these projects. By influence, I don’t mean writing a form e-mail to your local MLA. What I mean is organizing, on the ground and online.

You won’t be able to do this alone; to succeed you are going to have to co-ordinate with tens of thousands of other people in B.C. and all over the country.

The most immediate way to protect our coast from oil spills is to ensure the next B.C. provincial government is opposed to these proposals, whether it’s Liberal, NDP, Green or Conservative. The bottom line is the government of B.C. has the power to stop these projects from going ahead (more on that in a minute).

We need to get every provincial politician to take a position on whether they’re willing to open up the B.C. coast to increased crude oil tanker traffic. They’re going to need convincing and a lot of pushing before the next election. To push them we need to build political power where it counts (at the riding level) and speak the language that really resonates with them: votes.

The bottom line is the government of B.C. has the power to stop these projects from going ahead.

The No Tankers network is made up of all kinds of people: Mulroney Tories, Mulcair and Dix NDPers, Christy Clark BC Liberals, Cummins Conservatives and Elizabeth May Greens.

As long as we can agree increasing the risk of a catastrophic oil spill on B.C.’s coast is a bad idea, we can get down to business and work together to convince each party to get on the right side of the fence. The anti-HST crowd was successful because they were organized. No Tankers is way bigger than the HST.

As you may know, the provincial NDP has come out against Enbridge’s oil tanker project. They’re not exactly sure what mechanism they’re going to use to stop it yet. That’s why they’ve assembled a legal team to research possible tools. But they are confident that they can stop it. The NDP has not yet taken a position on Kinder Morgan’s plans to increase crude oil tanker traffic through Vancouver Harbour, the Gulf Islands and past Victoria through the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

For her part, Premier Christy Clark still hasn’t taken a firm position either way, instead releasing a series of five conditions upon which to base further consideration, including a condition that B.C. must receive its “fair share” of revenue from these projects. This last condition made for some good theater at the recent Premier’s conference in Halifax, and suggests that she’s open to these proposals if she sees enough cash.

The suggestion that this debate is about getting enough money was summarily rejected by her own constituents in an informal telephone poll we conducted in her riding.

With your help we’re going to push key provincial politicians to oppose both Enbridge’s and Kinder Morgan’s oil tanker proposals.

So, how could the province of B.C. stop oil tanker proposals?

First off, if B.C. said no, state-owned Chinese oil companies who are buying up access to oil in Sudan, Iran and Canada – and who are largely responsible for the push to send unrefined Canadian heavy crude overseas – would probably see the writing on the wall and pull their investments out of the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan proposals. Bingo bango.

If the B.C. government went even further, not only saying they don’t want these proposals but actually denying the oil companies provincial approvals, the federal government could decide to get upset and take the province to court. But that would not likely end well politically for Conservative politicians in B.C. There’s nothing like a fight between the feds and a province to solidify opposition to the federal government of the day.

If the federal government said “the hell with it” and took B.C. to court anyways, that still wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. It would take years to resolve and would lead to very interesting debates over just how much power the provinces have to protect their own lands and waters.

The possibility of a provincial win is why we’re nose to the grindstone right now preparing for the May 2013 election in B.C. by laying the groundwork that will enable you to coordinate with other people who live near you in a meaningful way online and on-the-ground.

This is not going to be easy, but we can do it with your help. Download the first of three action kits: the Find Allies Kit. There are already more than 800 people across B.C. who have downloaded the kit and who are making the No Tankers network huge. Last week Find Allies superstar Wanda Best sent us 1,600 signatures she collected on the No Tankers petition! People across B.C. are coming up with interesting ways to organize at the local level: everything from scuba relay fundraisers to film screenings. A digital version of the kit and two more kits, Find Leaders and Find Resources, are coming soon, so stay tuned.

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