Joe Oliver’s open letter stirs up controversy

Kandace Kerr, head of the Fort St. James Sustainablility Group, a registered intervenor in the Enbridge hearings,

  • Jan. 18, 2012 7:00 p.m.

Jonas Gagnon

Caledonia Courier

Kandace Kerr, head of the Fort St. James Sustainablility Group, a registered intervenor in the Enbridge hearings, is dismissive about Joe Oliver’s recent letter concerning the Enbridge hearings.

“It’s a very nice tactic to scare people,” she said.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver sent out an open letter one day before the opening of the hearings accusing environmentalists and ‘radicals’ of hijacking the hearing process with the use of foreign money and jet-setting celebrities. He then went on to propose a streamlining of the review process, a move that Harper would later endorse.

Kerr wasn’t the only local who felt Oliver was off base.

Chief Fred Sam of the Nak’azdli Nation, which has been an outspoken critic of the pipeline, disagrees with Oliver’s assessment of  the intervenors.

“I think it’s people living in the communities that are very concerned about this,” he said, later adding, “It’s the common people.”

As for Oliver’s ‘jet-setting’ types and foreign money, Chief Sam is happy for the aid.

“There’s lots of people from the U.S. that are willing to help, and we welcome that.”

Oliver offers criticism of the foreign funding coming in against the pipeline but  the tar sands themselves are an international group. The groups hail from a variety of countries, from China, to France, to the United Sates.

Grand Chief Edward John, hereditary Chief of the Tl’azt’en Nation and elected member of the First Nations Summit, questions the objectivity of the panel in light of the letter.

He states in a press release, “federal politicians advocating for and promoting the proposed Enbridge project before the environmental review commences puts the entire review process in jeopardy.   We question how the three National Energy Board panellists, who were appointed by the federal government, can fairly review this proposal when the Prime Minister and Minister of Environment openly promote what they perceive as the necessary outcome? In the end, it will be the federal government which decides on the panel’s report, a decision that has apparently already been made.”

Mayor MacDougall wasn’t worried about foreigner money hijacking the process in Fort St. James, noting that the international funding ‘goes both ways.’


As for the messiness and length of the process he simply stated: “We’re a democratic society and freedom of speech is our motto.”