About 280 Capital Region residents are hoping their concerns will be heeded this week as the Enbridge Northern Gateway joint review panel rolls through town.
Until Jan. 11 at the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa, the federal government panel will listen to concerns from registered speakers who have waited more than a year to formally voice their opinion on the pipeline project.
Interested observers, including Victoria MP Murray Rankin, were routed to the Ramada Hotel on Gorge Road to watch the proceedings via video link last Friday.
“What kind of public hearing is it when the person who’s elected to represent the public of this constituency isn’t able to attend,” Rankin said in an interview.
A lawyer who previously headed the provincial NDP’s legal opposition to the proposed 1,170-kilometre twin pipelines prior to entering politics, he said the panel lacks the legislative teeth to enforce public opinion.
“Harper’s government amended the law (with Bill C-38) … that gives cabinet authority to direct the national energy board to approve the pipeline, even if the joint review panel recommends against it.”
Outside the hotel last Friday, about 100 protesters from various organizations gathered to rally against the pipeline project. The event was one of several demonstrations organized by SocialCoast.org, who plan to return to the hotel Wednesday.
The joint review panel is tasked with assessing the environmental effects of the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
The panel will go submit its final recommendation report to the federal government in December 2013.