Art Sterritt champions democracy vs. pipelines

Art Sterritt, the Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations, has been instrumental in ensuring that both First Nations and other communities are building coalitions so their voices can be heard by government, media and communities. Art’s talk at the NoEnbridge Rally at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on May 10 follows.

Wow, what an amazing gathering. First of all, I would like to acknowledge the original inhabitants who are still here and hold title to much of this land.

Chiefs, Matriarchs and all of you noble people, it is indeed my honour to be here. I am extremely humbled today. I’ve been on a path for about nine years around the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. Coastal First Nations has fought this for many, many years now, but I think they would agree with me that this is the most amazing gathering we’ve had in the last nine years. So thank you very much for all of that.

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re approaching D-Day, as we’re calling it. The decision around Northern Gateway is going to happen sometime in June. Seventy-years-ago, my father and my uncle, my namesake, and many of your fathers and grandfathers landed on the beaches of Normandy to fight for the freedoms that we all enjoy in this country. When we began this journey nine years ago, it was all about a pipeline. It’s become much more than that. It’s now about democracy.

We have seen a prime minister who has tried to dismantle all the institutions that have been built over the last 150 years that respected the environment, science, our courts and our politics. All of this has been destroyed by this government in the name of big oil.

Coastal First Nations were approached by Northern Gateway nine years ago and asked whether or not we would approve tankers in the Great Bear. It took us three years to come to a final decision on that. We investigated technology to clean up oil – which didn’t exist and still doesn’t, and looked in Valdez, Alaska, to find out the oil was still in the ground there. We saw what they did in the Gulf of Mexico where they cleaned up three percent of the mess they made there. We’ve seen what Enbridge has done in the Kalamazoo. And the Coastal First Nations declared a ban on tankers in the Great Bear Sea and that ban will stay in effect forever, ladies and gentlemen!

We said that no good can come of this project. I want to remind you of a couple of things that have happened over the last nine years or so. Ask yourselves as you go through this whether or not our opinion, our learned decision about no good out of Northern Gateway, was true?

Since we began this exercise, very early on in the process, the prime minister silenced all of the scientists who said the project was endangering the environment. They gutted every bit of environmental legislation that was in the way of these pipes, every bit of it. They took a joint review process, flawed as it was, and took all the power away from them because three individuals who knew nothing about British Columbia couldn’t be trusted to make a decision. Then they passed it on to a whole cabinet of people who knew absolutely nothing about British Columbia and they’ll make that decision sometime early in June. Was that a good trade-off or not? When we have a whole cabinet full of amateurs, why do we need three people to do that?

So, we’ve got some good news for you, folks. Coastal First Nations, all of these first nations are going to be taking Stephen Harper and Northern Gateway to court. Here’s the other good news. Harper has pissed off the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, while we haven’t. It may be the biggest mistake he’s ever made. It seems like if anybody gets in Stephen Harper’s way, he throws them under the bus. That’s what he’s trying to do to the Chief Justice now.

Sheila Fraser did a bad audit on Harper. He threw her under the bus. The Chief Electoral Officer caught these guys with robocalling, illegal electioneering processes which got this bloody government the majority we’re suffering with today. They did it illegally and got caught and Harper threw the Chief Electoral Officer under the bus. That’s the kind of democracy we’ve got now. Mike Duffy was so stupid to get caught so Harper threw him and Pamela Wallin under the bus. Not for what they did, but for getting caught. He threw Patrick Brazeau under the bus for getting caught.

There was one man left in Harper’s office who came along who still had a shred of decency: Nigel Wright. He thought, “It isn’t fair that Mr. Duffy steals this money from Canadians and I”m going to pay them back.” Stephen Harper decided he made a mistake and threw him under the bus. That’s what we’ve got going on in Ottawa right now. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s nobody left on the bus! They’re all under it! And Stephen Harper is on his way out!

And enough about Ottawa. Alison Redford got caught with her finger in the cookie job as well so she’s under the bus in Alberta. And Harper and his ethical oil guys, aka the robocallers, are supporting the Wild Rose Party in Alberta and are going to try and take over there as well. That’s what we’ve got going around.

I just returned from the capital of Canada, where our prime minister comes from: Calgary. I was at the Enbridge AGM. All is well. We told Uncle Al Monaco, the CEO for Enbridge, “Don’t waste any more money on this Northern Gateway project. Mitigate your losses. You’re not going to win this one. You’re never going to British Columbia.” Mr. Monaco later tweeted that he talked to a Native leader who said he would meet again. So, “all is well.” Likely no need to implement the Eyford Report recommending building a strong relationship with First Nations in British Columbia. Al’s talking to one leader who’s agreed to meet with him so all is going to be well with Northern Gateway and keep investing. That’s what they’ve got going.

A little closer to home, all is also well. The salmon are going to be safe. We don’t need to implement Cohen because Janet Holder has told us 15,000 times that this pipeline is going to protect salmon. Yahoo baby. Do we believe this crap or not? The people of Vancouver and the rest of this province better bloody well get ready because Janet Holder has told us 15,000 times that pipeline routes are better habitat for cariboo than the natural stuff that we’ve got and they’re going to be thundering down on Vancouver after all these pipelines are built. We’re going to have cariboo everywhere because she told us 15,000 bloody times in the last couple of months.

I got a couple more. I’m trying to control myself, but… Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a self-evident fact. Enbridge Northern Gateway has spent a half billion dollars. Cute little Janet Holder, eh? I look at her and think about Stephen Harper and Maureen with that little panda bear in her lap. Janet is as cute as that panda bear that Stephen Harper brought over in order to consummate our relationship with China.

I went to Norway with a group of people. Janet was along. She has at least 15 pairs of shoes. She changed shoes three times a day on that trip. This little lady that is going to save British Columbia lives in Toronto, but is a British Columbian nonetheless, and is going to save us because this pipeline is going to save our environment. That’s what we’ve got to worry about. Janet Holder is the vice-president in charge of Northern Gateway.

To more serious things: Christy Clark is in Asia protecting all of us and our environment as we speak. She has taken a little walk down Harper road. She has changed the Park Act to allow them to go in there and investigate for pipelines. I wonder what they’ll do when the investigation is over. Christie Clark, you’d better sober up quick if you think you’re going in our parks. She has given the Oil and Gas Commission authority over allocating water. Well, that makes a helluva lot of sense because in order to move water you need either a tank, or a pipe. I think that’s probably about the extent of the logic this provincial government engaged in when they decided the Oil and Gas Commission was now in charge of water in the northeast and along the route.

Can you imagine the logic and amount of intelligence that goes into making those kinds of decisions? What next, Christie? Are you going to roll over on Northern Gateway? Are the five conditions that you put out there just about ready to roll over? I’ll guarantee you that First Nations aren’t rolling over and that condition number four will never ever be met.

So, Stephen Harper, Christy Clark, Uncle Al Monaco, Janet Holder and your 15,000 ads and Alberta – we’re ready. We’ve been ready for a while. I’m getting sick and tired of waiting. I want them to try and come and bring that pipeline through this province. The First Nations in this province are going to stop them dead in their tracks.

Ladies and gentlemen, something even bigger than all of that and you represent that here today; these people are going to get a lesson in democracy they haven’t had in a long time and they bloody well need it. All of you are going to have your say and these pipeliners are gonna sober up pretty damn soon.

So, this land that we call home, which nourishes us, we get all our food off of it, all our water and this air we breathe is some of the cleanest in the world. This water we have out here connects all of the Coast Salish, all the people up the coast to the Haida. We’re gonna make sure they clean up their act before they come knocking on our door again.

Thank you. And thank you for being here. I love every one of you.

1 thought on “Art Sterritt champions democracy vs. pipelines”

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you Mr Sterritt for saying it like it is, so completely!

    And much appreciation to Common Ground for publishing this speech from the heart of a leader who cares for the land, creation, democracy, and his people. And in so doing is standing up for the future of ALL of us, including “Settlers” like me.

    Yes, this is not only about pipelines and tankers, it’s about democracy. The voices of Canada’s First Nations have been ignored in our country since day 1, brushed aside in the rush for resources to make a few people rich. And now, to serve the interests of the new god, the oil industry, ALL of our voices are being silenced as democracy is being systematically dismantled.

    God bless you. And meanwhile, parallel to your mission, I’m honoured to be volunteering my butt off with the Dogwood Initiative. In case Mr Harper and cronies like our BC Premier Christy C find yet another way to silence your voices, I’m working on a democratic insurance policy as a backup plan. And in the process, raising more and more awareness about not only Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan, and its impacts on First Nations and the rest of us, but also about democracy.


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