Justice Thomas Berger spoke with CBC Vancouver’s The Early Edition yesterday about the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, and the ongoing debate over the Northern Gateway project in northern British Columbia. His comments were repeated on CBC’s As it Happens. You can hear an excerpt from the interview here.
Berger spoke about the virtues of the environmental impact assessment process and his inquiry in the mid-1970s, saying:
[blockquote]If you consult everybody–and that was the first time this had ever been done–you get better projects. Conforming to what the people who live there believe is in their interest, helping to protect the environment, and in the end working out to the advantage of industry…Thirty-five years ago, when my report was published, people were interested all over the country. It was the single largest selling publication of the Government of Canada. People were involved, they were engaged, and they trusted the process.[/blockquote]
And he provided this assessment of the current government and its approach to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project:
[blockquote]The Prime Minister, and members of his Cabinet, appear to be of the view that this thing should be rammed through, no matter what. It is in the national interest. The interests of the local people, and the protection of the environment are not of equal concern. And it was to establish an equal playing field that we developed this process thirty-five years ago. The government is undermining the panel that is hearing this by accusing the environmental groups of being money launderers and criminals…it is an irrational approach.[/blockquote]