Canadian government learns from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy about how to stifle dissent

When Arthur Dent lies in front of a bulldozer to stop a bypass from being built through his house, the government representative says that he could have stated his objections and viewed the file that was on display for public comment. All he had to do was look in the cellar with no lights, no stairs, "in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign outside the door saying "beware of the leopard!" Arthur then asks the government man, "Ever thought of going into advertising?"

Meanwhile in Canada, oil and gas giant Enbridge wants to reverse an existing pipe that travels from Sarnia to Montreal (through Toronto) to transport western oil, which can then be piped to Portland, Maine. This requires approval from the National Energy Board, which has set up new commenting procedures for the public, designed to "streamline the approval process for energy projects."

You can write a letter to the regulator, but you have to ask permission to write a letter to the regulator first, which may or not be approved. . In a 10 page application form full of clear language like:

Before you continue with this form, refer to the Board’s Guidance Document on Section 55.2 and Participation in a Facilities Hearing attached to the Hearing Order OH-002-2013 as Appendix VI, and again as Appendix III of Procedural Update No. 1 for OH-002-2013.

I followed all the links and eventually got to the form, but they sure don't make it easy.

Everything you need to know about File OF-Fac-Oil-E101-2012-10 02/Public Domain

Environmentalists complain to the Star:

“This is a clear attempt to block people from participating in public decision-making,” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace.

Adam Scott of Environmental Defence agreed: “We’ve seen lots of other approval processes go forward in the past. This is noticeably more difficult, and it was already a difficult process.”

Stop Line 9/Public Domain

But the Canadian government will do everything it can to ensure that Alberta tar sands oil isn't stuck in the ground and if they cannot send it south through the Keystone XL pipe, they will send it east.

Tags: Canada | Oil | Tar Sands

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