Canadian govt demands a 10-page questionnaire & CV in order to seek permission to comment on oil pipeline

Under Canada's newly gutted environmental laws, members of the public who want to comment on the upcoming hearings on the new Enbridge oil pipeline must beg for permission by fillling in an obscure, ten-page questionnaire and submitting a CV. It's as though the Harper government has fingerpainted FUCK OFF AND DIE on Parliament in heavy crude.

“The new rules are undemocratic. They attempt to restrict the public’s participation in these hearings and prevent a real dialogue about the environmental impacts of the Line 9 pipeline project,” said Adam Scott of Environmental Defence. “Canadians should not have to apply for permission to have their voices heard on projects that carry serious risks to their communities.”

Under the new rules, any Ontario resident who lives along the 639-km pipeline route who wants to send in a letter about their concerns must first apply to the NEB for permission to send in a letter. As of today, the public will have just two weeks to fill out a 10-page form which asks for a resume and references.

“Since when does someone’s resume determine if they have the right to be concerned about what’s happening in their home community?” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. “Anyone who lives and works in southern Ontario could be affected by a spill and everyone is affected by climate change. The right to send a letter of comment and have it considered by public agencies is part of the basic rights and freedoms Canadians enjoy.”

Line 9 runs directly through the most populated part of the country, through backyards, under farms and next to schools. The pipeline crosses every Canadian river flowing into Lake Ontario, threatening the drinking water of millions.

New undemocratic rules create barrier to public participation in upcoming pipeline hearings: a consequence of weakened federal environmental laws under Bill C-38 [Environmental Defense]

(Thanks, Cliff!)


  1. One wonders if the form to recall the Harper Government might be easier to fill out.

    1. If you think Ruth`s story is amazing…, 3 weeks ago my boy frends mom basically easily made $7946 putting in twenty hours a week an their house and they’re roomate’s step-aunt`s neighbour has been doing this for 4 months and easily made more than $7946 in their spare time at there pc. the tips on this site……. …… ZOO80.ℂom

      1. Maybe the form to create federal recall legislation is the place to start then….

        (forgive me I’m an uneducated American, but it seems that people shoudl have the right to remove leadership who have lost their damn minds)

        1. We have it provincially here in BC, and it would be used against any party that would allow this pipeline.

        2. That would be nice but something along those lines hasn’t happened in over 160 years, and that was in England. The thought did cross there minds but it was left alone. It is technically possible but no ones touching it. The same goes to the right of anonymity, they started discussing it years ago but left it alone and no one ever got back to it, so in Canada there is no right to anonymity, but that’s a different subject but shows where Canada’s thoughts are. No privacy and no way to kick out a dangerous leader.  

  2. Cory,
    (Completely serious, no sarcasm here.)

    Are you feeling OK?

    I only ask because the headline and first sentence of this post contain more grammatical errors than I’ve seen in any other hundred Cory Doctorow posts.

    If you’re just hopping mad, that’s fine, but if you don’t see the mistakes you should have someone run the Cincinnati scale on you.

      1. No, “contain” is correct. The Comedian specified the headline AND the first sentence: that’s two things and requires the plural conjugation.
        On topic: FUCK HARPER. I have a number of relatives living in Ontario. It saddens and dismays me to see what is happening to their country. It almost seems that Harper has some sort of pool going over how quickly he can foment civil war.

  3. I really don’t understand the Conservatives.  I might be cynical, but I strongly suspect that letters from the uncredentialed expressing general unhappiness (i.e. the ones that are going to get filtered out) got filed in the circular filing cabinet anyway. 

    By adding this ridiculous song and dance, the Conservatives have ensured that people like me are denied a chance to express our concerns, which means that a significant number of us are actually likely to now go to the trouble of expressing our opinions directly to the politicians (which might spook them into making life difficult for the pipeline), support opposition parties with time and money, etc.

    It takes a certain deftness in government to get the politically non-involved like me annoyed enough that I’ve found myself donating to the opposition parties.  But the Conservatives have been up to the task.

    Still, I suppose I should be grateful that the Conservatives seem to be adept at provoking maximum outrage for minimal progress on their agenda.  After all, Ronald Reagan showed us that maximal outrage for maximal progress environmental damage looks like.

    1. Its just part and parcel of the Conservatives’ (i.e. Harper’s) plan to shut down all possible environmental protests that might possibly threaten the success of his friends in the Alberta Oil Industry. First we have the challenges to Environmental groups that might be receiving any donations from outside the country (but not to Conservative Think Tanks that receive similar support), then we have the elimination of the protection of 90% of Canada’s waterways (its now limited only to environmental problems that might interrupt *commercial* loss in a waterway – if no corporate profits are threatened then there is no protection it seems. Of the remaining lakes and waterways which are still protected, the majority are in Conservative Ridings just coincidentally), the requirement that any governmental scientist doing research must get clearance from the Conservatives before they can publish or talk to a reporter, the shutting down of the Environmental pure water testing factilities (unique in the world and used by scientists from all over the world doing climate and environmental research),  and now obstacles thrown in the way of any concerned citizen that wants to address the pipelines and their environmental impact. Harper wants nothing to threaten the success of the pipelines and you can be sure that they *will* be approved no matter what comes up.
      The Conservatives under Harper are anti-science, anti-climate change, and anti-democracy. Look at their treatment of Canadian citizens during the G8 Summit for an indication of the later point – they arrested people without cause, citing a bogus law and then held them for hours without food, water or medical aid in cages, all at a cost in the billions (and some of which was pork-barreled in Conservative ridings, ie the famous Gazeebo). They used undercover police to try to foment a riot as justification. They used Robo-calling to misdirect voters who might have voted against them in key ridings to the wrong locations. They broke the election laws by over funding candidates by illegal means. 
      I am ashamed of my fellow Canadians for electing Harper and the Conservatives not once but twice and for giving them a majority the second time around. Hopefully the majority of Canadian voters will wake up before its too late and put someone in office who cares about what it means to be a Canadian citizen, and not just a Canadian Corporation.

    2. To understand the Conservatives talk to people you know as you probably know one.

      To understand Harper and his cabinet study what they are, Reform Party, and the numerous manifestations you will find them connected with. You may not know a Reformer, they are not so many and if you are reading BB you might not know many right-wing extremists personally.

      Of that 38% that they use to claim a majority, they (Harper & company) only represent a tenth of it. The rest are the victims of a car-jacking whether they know it or not, many do.

  4. But the article does not link to or even specify what this document is. if you look at the NEB website it clearly gives contact information regarding this issue.
    Process AdvisorThe NEB has assigned a Process Advisor for this project. The Advisor’s role is to support the public (e.g., landowners, concerned citizens, environmental non-governmental organizations), as well as the Aboriginal groups by providing information about its mandate and regulatory processes.For more information, please contact Michael Benson by calling (toll free) 1-800-899-1265, extension 1992 or 403-299-1992, or by sending an email hereProcedural Update No. 1 – List of Issues and Application to Participate form[Filing A51151]

  5. Here’s a link to press release alerting people to this with background info nicely explained:

  6.  I loves me a good pipe-line as much as the next planet raping imperialist but what good is oppressing the peasants if we cannot hear them scream?  Takes the fun out of life.  One thing i learned here in my fortress of arrogance is to enjoy the little things.  Also to limber up. 

    Really, i like affordable gasoline and utility bills.  Talk should be cheap, too. 

  7. What about me? I live in BC. Am I just plain not permitted to engage in the discussion at all?

    Someone has forgotten the meaning of the word “democracy”.

  8. For the record I am undecided on the pipeline but this barrier to free speech at the NEB meetings is absurd.  I would understand resume and reference requirements for a formal public inquiry but public meetings are messy by nature – you let people vent, it’s inclusive and not everybody is an expert.  This initiative is very counterproductive to this time tested process.

    If 12 jury members, representing all walks of life in the community, can collectively make very  important decisions then why can’t a room full of normal Canadians contribute to policy with respect to a pipeline?

  9. How is this different than a senate or congressional hearing; I don’t imagine they let just anyone speak at those.

    If you can’t be bothered to fill out a form, maybe you don’t feel that strongly about the issue.Nothing is stopping comments here, other blogs, newspapers, etc.  

    1. I suspect you fill in the form, you submit it, and then a government official *decides* if your right to speak should be granted. Its a way to filter out those who might make negative comments that differ from what the government has already decided is going to happen. Its like government designating Free Speech Zones in areas where no one will ever hear you speak.

  10. OK, so not a fan of Harper or the Conservatives, however I think I get what they are trying to do here. The only two questions are if it is ethically from a civics perspective to do, and will it be administered fairly (probably not).

    So as I see it, the pipeline is one of those issues, like the tar sands, or more generally climate change, which provokes a LOT of contention and discourse. While yes discourse is healthy and required, the problem is in some cases too much of it, particularly when uninformed, may not be all that useful other than to lead to inaction. Every tom dick and harry will have an opinion on the pipeline but are their comments meaningful? The moral quandary is an old one, do you let the idiot masses make decisions in a democracy? Typically, no. You elect representatives, who make those decisions. This is why you don’t have a referendum for everything, because they are expensive, take a long time, and in many cases leaving decisions to the mob is a bad idea.

    Whichever way you feel about the pipeline, it is a “big deal”. It is a big deal economically, and as some would point out, a big deal potentially environmentally. If the government is going to have a reasoned discourse on this politically ignited issue that is going to produce meaningful results, you may want to limit those that can comment on it to those that have the background to make the most impact (pro or con). Not just the nut bars on either side of the argument going Harper is teh Hitler!1111!!, or Yehaw Conservatives Rock! Etc…. I think even this forum might prove that point where everyone has something to say on the issue which may or may not really be relevant to the question at hand. To my mind the question is “Do the potential risks involved outweigh the potential benefits for Canada?”.

    Having said all that, saying I understand perhaps the ideal, I do not rule out that this is likely just a political ploy on the part of the Conservatives to get what they want to to justify whatever decision they have already decided to make. As I said much depends on the fairness of the criteria so that a balanced (both pro and con) discourse is heard. Given the Conservatives track record on “fairness” I don’t think I would put much stock in that either. So in principle, I get it and don’t think that it is necessarily a bad idea per say, however in practice with the current government in charge I am more that a bit skeptical as to the actual intentions.

  11. It’s somewhat of a moot point anyway. In a month the NDP will almost certainly be in power in BC, and then it’s a flat no to the pipeline regardless.

    1. I’m guessing you mean Keystone XL.  But Canada has about 25,000 miles of major oil pipeline and about 75,000 miles of natural gas pipeline.  The rate of new pipeline construction is very high (particularly for natural gas) and will probably remain so.  NDP is more likely to effect environmental law and pipeline safety than actually stopping new construction.

      1. No, I’m referring to Northern Gateway, which is planned to go through BC.

        The NDP have committed to blocking it, and it’s a (or the) major election issue.

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