Northern Gateway beats back ENGOs – by Peter Foster (National Post – December 20, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

As expected, the Joint Review Panel of the National Energy Board and the Minister of the Environment gave provisional approval to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline on Thursday.

In political terms, that’s a necessary step, even if the government has the power to overrule the JRP. However JRP — or even Cabinet — approval is far from a guarantee that the line will be built.

Wednesday, Financial Post’s Claudia Cattaneo quoted a young man named Ben West, who declared “The Enbridge line will never be completed.” Who is Mr. West? And why should we care what he says? He is the Tar Sands Campaign Director of ForestEthics Advocacy, which is a subsidiary of San Francisco-based environmental NGO ForestEthics. According to his Web profile, he is “passionate” about “environmental justice, and ecological literacy,” and in his spare time is a “juggler, Twitter addict … and wannabe comedian.”

Mr. West is important because — despite his juggling and comedic aspirations — he is representative of a powerful radical minority that is intent on holding up development of the oil sands. They have no interest in either official approval or indeed democracy. They already stand across the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska, and their ability to hold up oil sands development is very real.

ForestEthics has muscled its way to a seat at the policy table by its thuggish tactics. Its do-not-buy campaigns were critical in forcing the Canadian forest industry into the disastrous Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, CBFA. Earlier this year, ForestEthics Advocacy brought suit against the federal government over proposals to streamline energy project review, claiming that the Harper Conservatives wanted to gag free speech. But Mr. West’s statement on Northern Gateway clearly indicates his group’s utter contempt for legal and democratic processes.

But isn’t ForestEthics at the radical end of things? Surely there are more balanced voices within the ENGO community. What about the giant World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF? Not much balance there. In fact, they are even more subversive when it comes to undermining democracy, and actually profit from ForestEthics’ anti-corporate antics.

The head of WWF Canada, David Miller, recently appeared in these pages with the same message as Mr. West: Northern Gateway should be turned down whatever the NEB and the democratically elected government says. In the same article, Mr. Miller chose to attack me personally for failing to grasp how sustainability is synonymous with prosperity, but insofar as sustainability means anything, it means rejection of markets and contempt for democracy.

Organizations such as ForestEthics, WWF, Greenpeace and the David Suzuki Foundation all despise short-sighted “ballot box” democracy because they claim to speak for the planet and future generations. Significantly, neither entity is in a position to speak for itself. Investigative journalist Donna Laframboise has exposed how far the WWF has infiltrated and corrupted UN climate “science.” Meanwhile the WWF has refined the process of corporate shakedown by offering “consulting” services to the companies threatened by the likes of ForestEthics.

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