Justice Thomas Berger Speaks Out on Northern Gateway Review Process
In an interview with the CBC on May 15, 2012, Justice Thomas Berger said the federal government is undermining the Northern Gateway review process and taking “an irrational approach” by calling environmental groups that are opposed to it “money launderers and criminals.” Berger is internationally renowned for his work as Royal Commissioner of the 1970s MacKenzie Valley Pipeline inquiry, more commonly known as the Berger Inquiry.
This inquiry set new standards for what adequate consultation looks like when it comes to major resource development projects. Over a period of 21 months, Berger visited every single community along the project’s proposed route and he then incorporated what he heard into his recommendations.
In the CBC interview, Berger said that “if you consult everybody–and [the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline inquiry] was the first time this had ever been done–you get better projects.” He called for the Northern Gateway assessment to remain true to such a process. The most recent federal budget is currently before Parliament as Omnibus Bill C-38. One part of this legislation proposes sweeping changes to the Environmental Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act. If incorporated, these changes could shorten the review of Northern Gateway by as much as a year and a half and effectively remove any semblance of an independent decision on Northern Gateway.