Unifor argues against Northern Gateway approval in federal court


VANCOUVER, Oct. 5, 2015 /CNW/ - The Harper government approved Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline on the basis of deeply flawed analysis presented by the National Energy Board (NEB), according to arguments made today in federal court by counsel for Unifor.

"The process was rigged from the start, and it ignored important testimony from Canadians," said Joie Warnock, Unifor's Western Director. "If Stephen Harper refuses to protect our coast, we have no choice but to fight him in court."

Unifor's appeal to the federal court argues that the standard set for evidence from pipeline opponents was higher than the supporters of Northern Gateway. The appeal also outlines how the NEB erred in accepting "well functioning petroleum markets" as a benefit to the Canadian public interest.

Unifor is also appealing the NEB's treatment of environmental factors in approving the pipeline. While the Board accepted evidence about alleged economic benefits from Oilsands expansion, it refused to consider impacts such as future greenhouse gas emissions or the impact on British Columbia's fisheries in the event of a spill.

"An Exxon Valdez-type tanker spill would cost the fishing and tourism industry on the North Coast billions," said Heather Mearns of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union (UFAWU-Unifor).

On October 1 and 2, several First Nations also appeared in federal court to present their legal appeal of the Harper cabinet approval of the Enbridge pipeline.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.