Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Pulpits and the Pipeline: More Churches Speaking out on Northern Gateway Project

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Pulpits and the Pipeline: More Churches Speaking out on Northern Gateway Project

Article excerpt

Churches debate Northern Gateway project

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Churches across Canada say they have a religious duty to speak out on the proposed Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline.

Next week, delegates at the United Church of Canada general council meeting in Ottawa are to debate a resolution that calls on the church to reject construction of the $6-billion Enbridge (TSX:ENB)project that would take diluted bitumen from Alberta to the British Columbia coast.

The resolution was drafted in support of aboriginals in B.C., who worry a spill would poison the land and water, and directs the church to send the results of its vote to the federal, B.C. and Alberta governments and the media.

Mardi Tindal, moderator of the United Church, said care of the Earth is an important part of the faith and the church can't shy away from the pipeline just because it is controversial and politically divisive.

"People care so much about this. People understand that you cannot separate economic health from ecological health," she said from Toronto.

"The church has a responsibility to contribute to the conversations that make for the best public policy for the common good."

The United Church of Canada is not alone.

Earlier this year, the Anglican Bishops of British Columbia and Yukon issued a statement that questioned the integrity of the pipeline's environmental impact review.

The diocese of New Westminster of the Anglican Church of Canada has declared its outright opposition to Northern Gateway, and is looking at excluding Enbridge stock from the diocese's investment portfolio.

A group representing 28 Presbyterian churches in B.C.'s Lower Mainland has written a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that accuses the government of weakening environmental reviews and demonizing people who oppose projects as radicals trying to sabotage Canada's economy.

In her letter to Harper, Rev. Diane Tait-Katerberg wrote there is already "overwhelming evidence the government of Canada has already made up its mind about the safety of these projects, and is arranging things so that nothing stands in the way of the development of the oilsands and the approval of these pipelines."

There is so much buzz about the pipeline in religious circles that the ecumenical justice organization Kairos has written a primer on the Enbridge project entitled Ethical Reflections on the Northern Gateway Pipeline. It's meant to help churches make their own value judgments on the project.

The primer says Northern Gateway presents intersecting challenges for the economy, ecology and Canada's relations with aboriginal people.

It says the focus on the anticipated wealth the pipeline would create threatens to obscure the magnitude of the profound challenges it would pose to the environment.

"In a very immediate way, Northern Gateway threatens the survival of the First Nations whose territory it would cross," the report says. …

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