Harper celebrates Earth Day by endangering humpback whales

Angus Wong —

Guess how the Harper government celebrated Earth Day? It decided to slash protections to endangered humpback whales, and make it easier for Enbridge to push through its risky Northern Gateway oil pipeline.

Leading scientists say that North Pacific humpback whales are still endangered — the species was once hunted to near-extinction and is still classified as “threatened” by many bodies. But the Conservative government downgraded the species under Canadian law on Monday.

The reclassification means that humpbacks will not be protected under the Species At Risk Act, clearing the way for approval of the Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. Experts say these whales are particularly sensitive to the noise pollution and risk of collision that would come with the pipeline’s increase in tanker traffic.

We need to speak out loud and clear to make sure the Harper government hears us, and stop this unscientific attack on the whales.

Providing protections for marine mammals under the Species At Risk Act was one of the conditions that the government set out for approving the pipeline. Experts believed that the restriction was the condition that Enbridge was most likely to fall short on. But by reclassifying humpbacks, the government eliminated a huge hurdle for Enbridge’s climate killing Northern Gateway pipeline project, making it more likely that it will be approved.

During the Northern Gateway public hearings last year, groups voiced concerns about the increased tanker traffic that would result from this pipeline and the risk this would pose to humpbacks. Now we need to speak out again.

This is yet another case of Big Oil’s cozy relationship with the Conservative government. But we are winning when we fight back against the Petro State. When the government of Alberta began asking tar sands companies to consult on curriculums in our kids’ schools, we spoke out. And we are making strong progress — just last week, Syncrude announced that they will not participate in the curriculum consultation. Now, we need to tell the government to choose our whales over the needs of Big Oil.

Send a message to demand more protection for humpbacks whales now.