Saturday, May 23, 2009

Canadians Speaking Out - Judy Gibson letter to Prime Minister

To the Rt. Honourable Stephen Harper,
Prime Minister of Canada,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, Canada.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

I don't think you could imagine my horror when I came upon the blog of Senator Susan Collins in the "Quoddy log" on the Internet, and read how she is crowing about having triumphed in persuading Canadian legislators--against all of your government's previous efforts--to look kindly on the American entrepreneurial effort to establish an LNG terminal or more than one, in Passamaquoddy Bay.

Here is a portion of her blog writing about the meeting she attended in Charlevoix:

We met with our Canadian counterparts to discuss energy,
environmental, economic, border, and national and homeland security
issues. I was able to get a resolution passed that is important to
Washington County proposals to develop an LNG terminal, which Canada
has been blocking by refusing to cooperate in any of the regulatory
reviews. The resolution calls on both countries to participate in good
faith and expeditiously in regulatory reviews of proposed facilities
in their ports. I faced strong opposition at first from some of the
Canadians, but revised the language and prevailed after a lot of work.

It was fun figuring out how to put together a coalition

This is extremely upsetting. Many people and groups have spent their whole energies for years to oppose these efforts on the best environmental, social and economic evidence that such industrial projects in a highly sensitive and sustainable tourist economy and fishing economy would damage it beyond repair.
I am one of the people who has written to your government pointing out that the proponents of such projects do not present truthful claims nor evidence, and never respond directly to critical statements made by those opposing their ridiculous claims.
Such projects endanger the lifestyle and economy of all of the people in southwestern New Brunswick and Central and Southern (coastal) Maine.
A number of scientists who have been working at DFO's Atlantic Biological Station in St. Andrews, NB, for decades are opposed to this on scientific grounds because the delicate balance of the ecosystem would be unsustainable. Fishermen and tourist businesses in the region are adamantly opposed to the projects being touted by various interests.
There are immediate concerns for issues which may have not been dealt with but the security factor of bringing a highly dangerous fuel--in pressurized container ships--into this area, through the very narrow Head Harbour Passage; and knowing that water is an agent of extremely rapid dispersal of this explosive material were a spill to occur--would place, in the context of a possible accident, all the coastal communities and the forests and farmland which might be exposed, in grave danger.

There are no resources such as a major trauma centre immediately accessible; and in an area which consists of small communities and which is primarily rural, none would be established. Sir, there are two reasons the proponents of Downeast LNG and other similar projects want to establish on Passamaquoddy Bay: BECAUSE it is not heavily populated and therefore fewer voices can do as the much larger communities have done, and oppose it by sheer force of numbers; and BECAUSE these entrepreneurs have no interest in exploring and developing 21st-Century ideas for alternative fuels and techologies--they want profit now, and do not care about people, health, wildlife, fresh air, clean water, biodiversity, and common sense.

I was personally assured by Mr. Dean Girdis and Mr. Rob Wyatt of Downeast LNG in March, 2006, that they would "get back to me" about my concerns, stated during a public meeting at the Algonquin Hotel. There was absolutely no effort made by either man to honour their promise made in front of several hundred people. Indeed, I know of no one who opposes their project who has ever heard directly from either of these men. They are not men of honour.

One asks oneself, why has Senator Collins made Canadian legislators interested in any further dealings with them?? Or is she deluding herself? (In which case I hope your government will immediately make a strong public statement refuting her claims, and also reiterating your government's strongest opposition to such projects).

The meeting in March 2006 at the Algonquin Hotel in St. Andrews NB was attended by hundreds of local residents and others who came in from nearby communities on both side of the border. Not one single one of the voices raised that evening--doctors, scientists, lawyers, business people, homeowners--supported the idea of LNG terminals having any place in the Passamaquoddy Bay economy.

Your government, through the work of such MPs as Greg Thompson, has to date quite strongly opposed such proposals.

That is why it is so disconcerting to read the blog by Senator Collins this morning. She appears to believe that Canada will not in future make difficulties for the entrepreneurial dreams of Messrs. Girdis and Wyatt, and their like.

No one--NO ONE--ever has responded directly to the concerns expressed by community officials and residents and area visitors against the LNG terminals. By now these must number in the thousands, in individual e-mails and letters, telephone calls, petitions, and so on. I believe that your government has been listening. But it needs to do much more. It needs to advise President Obama's government that Canada will not submit to pressure wielded by greedy entrepreneurs from either side of the border. Your government needs to show that it is a 21st Century government, putting ethics and environment and a sustainable economy ahead of corporate would-be profiteers.

Please, Mr. Prime Minister, clarify the statement made by Senator Susan Collins. Is it true that Canadian legislators bent a sympathetic ear to American pressure in this instance? May we, the Canadian public, know how and why, if this is indeed the case?

If our own Canadian legislators have been subverted by an American senator's charm and persuasive powers, rather than by all of the commonsense arguments mounted by those opposing such project...then perhaps it should be up to your government to replace these people, forthwith, with others who listen to the voices of the communities which would be affected. Passamaquoddy Bay, as I am certain you are aware, is one of Canada's most historic and beautiful areas. Is it, because of lack of oversight, to become another area of ugly industrial blight and a permanent black mark on Canada's economic, social and environmental record sheets?

I do hope that you will be able to reassure us that, in perpetuity, Passamaquoddy Bay area will be protected from large industrial projects such as LNG terminals and other polluting and unpopular projects.

Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for the opportunity of expressing myself on this highly important issue. St. Andrews is my hometown and I treasure every part of the area, as have countless numbers of people who have made it their home or their summer home for two centuries.

Judy Gibson
58 The Boulevard
St. John's, NL
A1A 1K1
(709) 726-2498

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