Mary Gorman of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition (SOSS), speaks passionately for protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Pa’qtnkek Water Ceremony with Ethan Hawke, October 26, 2015.
By Ellie Reddin
January 26, 2016
For the third time in the past four years, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board has granted a one-year extension to Corridor Resources exploration licence on the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and waived the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension.
This extension was granted because the board has not conducted the public and Aboriginal consultations required as part of the environmental assessment for this project.
For the past two years, the board has dragged its heels despite numerous inquiries asking when and how these consultations will be carried out.
It says it will announce plans for consultations “at a later date.”
Does the board intend to keep on delaying the consultations indefinitely and continue to give Corridor Resources free licence extensions?.
The current licence extension for Corridor Resources is just one in a series of irresponsible, biased actions and decisions on the part of the board. In 2012, the board contracted with AMEC to update the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Newfoundland portion of the Gulf. The purpose of the SEA was to assist the board “in determining whether further exploration rights should be offered in whole or in part for the Western NL Offshore Area.” While the SEA was being conducted, the board issued a call for bids, including for licences within the Gulf. Clearly, the board assumed that further exploration rights would be offered in the Gulf, regardless of the findings of the SEA.
The SEA update report from AMEC discussed: numerous risks to marine species and the fisheries and tourism industries, the presence of many sensitive areas and endangered species, important data gaps, lack of social acceptability, and the complex and deteriorating state of the Gulf. The logical conclusion would have been that the known risks outweigh the potential benefits. Although the authors of a report normally write the conclusions, the board decided to write the conclusions itself. Predictably, they concluded that “petroleum exploration activities generally can be undertaken in the Western NL area…”
Only two of the five Gulf provinces have set up Offshore Petroleum Boards: Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The Nova Scotia Board ceased any activity in the Gulf in 1999. If the NL Board did not have a pro-petroleum industry bias, it would also cease all activity in the Gulf.
The roles of the NL Board include facilitating hydrocarbon resource development in the NL Offshore and protecting the environment. As noted in the Wells Report of 2010, these are conflicting mandates. Clearly, the NL Board shows by its actions and decisions that protecting the Gulf ecosystem is not a priority.
Given the failure of the NL Board to act in a responsible manner, Save Our Seas and Shores P.E.I. is calling on the federal and Newfoundland and Labrador governments to remove the board’s mandate pertaining to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Save Our Seas and Shores-P.E.I. Chapter
Source: Journal Pioneer
Latest Old Harry extension sees Atlantic Accord ratified for cash-strapped company
by Miles Howe
January 18, 2016
KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) — It seems like Corridor Resources has some well connected friends. On Friday, January 15, the oil and gas company received yet another extension to its Old Harry exploration lease in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This time, federal ministers and their provincial counterparts in Newfoundland ratified the existing Atlantic Accord legislation, so that Corridor can sidestep the $1 million it would have earlier had to pay to extend and secure this lease.
The Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, the arm’s length organization in charge of finalizing offshore leases for the province, explained this ratification as being related to regulatory factors that had hindered Corridor’s ability to drill a validation, or exploratory, well. That, or it could just be that Corridor Resources, like so many junior exploration and extraction companies, is going broke and hasn’t been able to afford the price of an offshore well.
Corridor, as of January 18th, was in a year long nose dive and was trading at 44 cents per share. Without a senior partner to fund the Old Harry project, and with the federal government dragging its feet on the necessary Environmental Assessment of the project, for the moment it seems like the Offshore Petroleum Board is content to keep Corridor on some kind of life support system.
It’s not sitting well with Mary Gorman, of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, who feels like its time to pull the plug on Corridor once and for all and on top of that instill a drilling moratorium in the ecologically fragile Gulf of St. Lawrence.
(Listen to Halifax Media Coo’s excellent interview with Mary Gorman who speaks about Corridor, Old Harry, and the general disillusionment felt after decades of fighting to protect the Gulf.)
Source: Halifax Media Coop
Award-winning journalist Maureen Googoo, owner/editor of Kukukwes.com covered this story. The excerpts and photographs below come from the complete article on Kukukwes.com, an independent Aboriginal news organization.
“Mi’kmaq leaders from Listuguj, Gespeg and Gespegagiag in Quebec – which form the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat – worked with officials with Paqtnkek and the Save Our Seas and Shores coalition to ask the Hollywood actor help them raise awareness about the negative effects of offshore drilling in the Gulf area.”
“Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat in Quebec, said Canada should not allow offshore drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without first consulting with and speaking to the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and Innu peoples.”
“And the way to speak to Mi’kmaq is to bring one comprehensive study that shows the body of water, the Gulf as one ecosystem and what could happen if there’s drilling,” Jerome said at the news conference.”
By Emily Hiltz
Posted on October 29, 2015
Actor, screenwriter and Antigonish County land owner Ethan Hawke joined Mi’kmaq leaders Monday to add his voice to the call for a 12-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Hawke, who has owned a place in Antigonish County for 15 years, described the area as a magical place.
“The elders of this community, particularly the Mi’kmaq have proven themselves to be totally trustworthy stewards of this land,” Hawke said.
“I’m here because I believe in the Mi’kmaq’s ability to decide what is best for this land and for this water. I support their right to determine that for themselves.”
Hawke said he was present as a neighbour and friend, adding he was flattered to be invited to the press conference and traditional Mi’kmaq water ceremony. “A lot of times what happens is people aren’t angry about drilling offshore until after it has already happened and we can’t pretend we’re not smart enough to know what the possibilities are and we know what the motivations of the oil companies are,” Hawke said, noting while oil seems valuable in the short term, water is invaluable.
Paqtnkek Chief Paul James (PJ) Prosper said the water ceremony was a new occasion for many.
“It’s through ceremony that we come to get to a fuller and richer understanding of who we are as Mi’kmaq people on this land,” he said, noting Pomquet Harbour, where the water ceremony took place, was also where Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested in 1993 for harvesting eels.
The Supreme Court of Canada acquitted Marshall in 1999, ruling Mi’kmaq have the right to earn a moderate livelihood from fishing.
“We are all a treaty people and we all hold this sacred responsibility to take care of the land and resources not only for ourselves but for future generations,” Prosper said. “We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters to the north. We recognize there is a need to protect the lands and resources and to do that in a responsible manner.”
Co-founder of Save Our Seas and Shores, Mary Gorman, noted according to scientists, the Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the most fragile and precious ecosystems on earth.
“Federal and provincial governments have created such an offshore regulatory mess in the Gulf of St. Lawrence that we have five provinces trying to cut up a single body of water,” Gorman said. “The problem is, water moves and oil and fish don’t recognize provincial boundaries.”
Gorman noted the industry control boards have a conflict of interest because they function as both promoters of petroleum development and protectors of marine habitat, allowing petroleum companies to monitor their own safety and environmental requirements.
“How did Canada’s protection of marine habitat get placed in the hands of the petroleum industry?” she asked.
Chief Scott Martin of Listuguj First Nation in Quebec spoke of the need for a 12-year moratorium on drilling because there are “numerous knowledge gaps” identified in the strategic environment assessment. “There must be a distinct process to study the whole of the gulf as one ecosystem,” Martin said, noting it should be done independently from the petroleum boards. “We demand that the race to drill in the gulf be stopped,” he added.
Executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat Troy Jerome said while Canada is thinking about drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence “we’re telling them that they cannot do it without speaking with the Mi’kmaq.”
Jerome added the way to do this would be to complete one comprehensive study that shows the Gulf of St. Lawrence as a single body of water and what could happen if drilling occurs there.
“Let’s get a 12-year moratorium out there … let’s call upon all the new Liberal MPs in the Atlantic [provinces],” Jerome said.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure all people from Nova Scotia go up to their MPs and say, ‘what are you doing about the gulf? Ethan Hawke is here doing something about the gulf, what are you doing about the gulf?”
Prosper said one of the things he has heard newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talk about is his willingness to meet aboriginal people on a nation to nation basis.
“I think that’s really important,” Prosper said. “It’s reflected within our treaty relationship which is a nation to nation relationship and I’m sure the new government will take active steps to recognize the nation of the Mi’kmaq people and to engage in a meaningful dialogue in a respectful way,” he said.
Martin said when the Liberal government was campaigning at their doors the representatives said “we’re here to work with you.”
“We’ve been trying to stop this for many years now and now that there is a new government, now is their time to step up to the plate,” Martin said.
Source: The Casket
By Julia Wong Video Journalist Global News
October 27, 2015 8:30 am
Updated: October 27, 2015 4:23 pm
HALIFAX – Hollywood actor Ethan Hawke lent some star power to environmentalists and First Nations groups in Nova Scotia who are calling for a ban on offshore drilling in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.
On Monday, the Academy Award nominee joined the chiefs of the Paq’tnkek First Nation and the Mi’kmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi along with the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition to call for a 12-year moratorium in the Gulf.
“Water is more valuable than oil. This water is our greatest resource,” Hawke told reporters.
The actor has a house in Monastery, N.S. and has been visiting the area for 20 years. Hawke was asked to attend the event by the First Nations groups and said protecting the Gulf is personal.
“I’m sure some people are wondering what I’m doing here. I’m largely here as your neighbour and your friend and a friend to this area,” he said.
“The one thing I can do as the one actor in the community is to sit next to really educated people who are working extremely hard to protect this beautiful water.”
Hawke participated in a water ceremony on the waterfront, which involved prayers and offerings by Mi’kmaq elders as the sound of traditional drums and the smell of burning sweetgrass filled the air.
Held each season, it honours the Mi’kmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land, and their resources.
WATCH: Actor and celebrity Ethan Hawke lent his star power to the call against oil and gas development in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. It’s an issue of particular interest to First Nations groups in Nova Scotia. Julia Wong reports.
Call for more protection
Hawke said he trusts the judgment of the First Nations who have long lived in the area.
“I believe in the Mi’kmaq ability to decide what is best for this land. They earned that right not just by inhabiting this land for thousands of years but for the way they’ve cared for that water. I trust their judgment about what is best for this area, for the earth, for the land, for the people and for the water.”
First Nations chiefs said oil should not be given more priority than the environment.
“We demand the race to drill in the Gulf be stopped,” said Chief P.J. Prosper of the Paq’tnkek First Nation.
“Canadians and our Nations must be heard. No drilling without the proper assessment. The social good demands this. The Atlantic fisheries, our economy, our ecosystem must take precedence over oil.”
Chief Scott Martin of the Mi’kmaq Government said water is sacred for the First Nations people.
“We are all a treaty people. We all hold the sacred responsibility to take care of the lands and resources, not only for ourselves but for future generations as Mi’kmaq people,” he said.
“I’ve often thought if the water could have a voice here at this table what would she say? What would she say about the treatment and the neglect that people hold towards these invaluable and finite resources. So I ask you here today to please consider this very special meaning that water has for us, for all of us and the future generations that it supports.”
Mary Gorman, spokesperson from Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, said marine protection is weak in Canada right now and more must be done to protect the Gulf’s fragile ecosystem.
“It has counterclockwise currents that only flush into the Atlantic once a year. It is windy with ice cover. It sustains multi-billion dollar fishery and tourism industries and has among the largest lobster production in the world,” she said.
New Liberal government
Martin said he hopes the new Trudeau government will be receptive to their concerns.
“When they came campaigning at our doors, they say ‘We’re here to work with you’ and ‘Anything we can do to help you?’ This will be one of their first tests they will be challenged with because of the fact we’ve been trying to stop this for many years now,” he said.
“Now is the time to step up to the plate.”
Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner, who was in attendance at the event, said prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau is committed to a new relationship with First Nations communities.
“It is the early days now. We don’t know who is going to end up at the portfolio but it’s one that Atlantic caucus members that have been around the table for a while are very aware of,” he said.
A spokesperson for Central Nova MP Sean Fraser told Global News that Fraser will bring the issue to the attention of the minister in charge.
“Because of the importance of the fishery and the environment, he will make this concern an early priority once taking office,” reads the statement sent to Global News.
Hawke said he’s glad his celebrity drew media to cover the event. But he also downplayed his participation.
“I know the real difference will be made in other rooms,” he said. “It’s just an opportunity to talk about it . . I was invited to be a part of this so I take it seriously.”
– with files from CP
Source: Global News
AARON BESWICK Truro Bureau TRURO BUREAU
Published October 26, 2015 – 8:12pm
Last Updated October 26, 2015 – 8:49pm
Hollywood star appears with natives opposing exploration in Gulf
When Hollywood came to Antigonish County on Monday, the media followed.
Asked what bearing actor Ethan Hawke’s opinion had on potential exploratory drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Mary Gorman was quick with a response.
“The difference is that you’re here,” the co-founder of Save Our Seas and Shores told the many media outlets gathered.
Gorman joined Mi’kmaq leaders and the celebrated actor on Monday morning in Antigonish County to once again call for a 12-year moratorium on exploratory drilling for hydrocarbons in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The call was made after a traditional Mi’kmaq water ceremony was held near the spot on Pomquet Harbour where Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested for catching and selling eels in 1993. Marshall’s appeals of those charges eventually brought him before the Supreme Court of Canada — which reached the landmark ruling that the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples have a right to make a “moderate livelihood” off the fishery.
Paqtnkek First Nation chief Paul Prosper and Scott Martin, chief of the Listuguj First Nation in Quebec, said at the ceremony that their people’s right to make a moderate livelihood from the sea could be threatened by oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“We demand that the race to drill in the Gulf be stopped,” said Martin.
“No drilling without proper assessment. The social good, the Atlantic fisheries, our economy, our way of life and the life of this ecosystem must take precedence over oil.”
Corridor Resources of Halifax has the only current application in to do exploratory drilling in the Gulf. It has exploration licences for an underwater area known as Old Harry about 80 kilometres west of Newfoundland’s south coast.
It is seeking environmental approval to drill one exploration well.
Energy Department spokeswoman Sarah Levy MacLeod said Monday that if any drilling were planned for the small area of the Gulf of St. Lawrence that Nova Scotia is responsible for, the Mi’kmaq would be consulted first.
“We consult with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia through the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Consultation Terms of Reference signed in 2010,” said Levy MacLeod.
“This agreement lays out a consultation process for government to follow when making decisions that could impact asserted Mi’kmaq aboriginal and treaty rights. The process involves regular communication and meetings between government regulators and representatives of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs.”
For his part, Hawke, who has a cottage near the area where the ceremony took place, was asked by reporters what difference he thought his presence at the ceremony made.
“It’s just an opportunity to talk about” potential oil exploration in the Gulf, said Hawke.
“To actually get together and say a water ceremony is important. Your being here and all the people standing on the hill in the cold. Everybody does value the land so much, we just don’t know what to do about it. I was invited to be a part of this, so I take it seriously.”
Source: Chronicle Herald
First Nations from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec holding event on Monday
By Elizabeth McMillan,
Posted: Oct 23, 2015
Actor Ethan Hawke will be lending some of his star power to First Nations groups in eastern Canada that oppose oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The leadership of the Paqtnkek, Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg First Nations will be holding a joint press conference and water ceremony Monday by the coast at 577 Summerside Road in Afton, which is in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia.
Hawke will be a special guest and is scheduled to answer questions following a press conference. The four-time Oscar nominee who is known for films such as Training Day, Dead Poets Society and Boyhood has property in the area.
Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, says First Nations groups and organizations like the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition have been working to raise awareness for years and a big name like Hawke’s can bring new attention to their concerns.
Potential oil not going anywhere
The group is calling for a 12-year exploration moratorium, which Jerome says is needed so the government can conduct a comprehensive review.
“The public should be saying the same thing the Mi’kmaq, the aboriginal people, are saying. Show us a study before you think about drilling in there,” he said.
“It’s unproven, but even if there’s oil there, it’s not disappearing.”
Jerome says people who live in the region — which includes the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec — haven’t been adequately consulted, but also haven’t been that engaged.
He hopes Hawke’s profile will encourage the public to push for more information about how drilling and any potential blowouts could affect the area.
“If there’s an oil spill it’s going to go on the shores of Newfoundland, by some spill scenarios, up all the way up the St. Lawrence River. No one really knows,” he said.
Coming on the heels of the recent federal election, Jerome hopes the event sends a message to industry and the new federal government.
“By having his (Ethan Hawke’s) presence, it raises a level of exposure to another level,” he said. “The timing turned out to be very good.”
‘Chronically’ under radar
Mary Gorman of the Save our Seas and Shore Coalition says tens of thousands of jobs in the fishing and tourism industries could be impacted by offshore drilling.
“We have been fighting this battle before Keystone, before Northern Gateway, before Energy East. All of these battles have taken precedence over our battle,” she said.
“There will be oil on the coast of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland if our politicians are foolish enough to let this proceed. And yet we chronically fall under the radar. And that’s why Ethan is helping us.”
Hawke has voiced concerns about the environmental risks of offshore drilling before.
In 2011, he released a statement with the David Suzuki Foundation and the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition in a campaign calling for the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the gulf.
The site of Monday’s ceremony is close to where Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested for fishing eels out of season, which led to a landmark 1999 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that guaranteed aboriginal treaty rights to fish and hunt.
Paqtnkek councilllor Darlene Prosper says Monday’s events will begin with a water ceremony scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
Source: CBC News
October 22, 2015
Actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke is lending his voice to the efforts to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from off shore petroleum exploration.
Hawke, who owns property in Tracadie, Nova Scotia, is going to be a guest at a water ceremony and press conference where the Chiefs of the Paq’tnkek First Nation and the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi (Gesgapegiag, Gespeg and Listuguj) as they make an important statement on Monday that outlines the significance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to both Nations and calls for immediate actions to Protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Mary Gorman, of Pictou County, has been a long time activist for the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition and said this event is significant.
“We’re very grateful to the Mi’gmaq elders chiefs and their councils for protecting the gulf of St. Lawrence from offshore oil and gas development,” Gorman said. “We never would have been able to keep the oil industry out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the past 17 years without the Mi’gmaq leadership.
She said it’s great to have the support of Hawke who is coming on his dime to the event.
This venue for the conference is of historical significance. The site was the location for the events that led to the Marshall Decision which gives aboriginal people the right to make a living from fishing and hunting as based on early treaties between the British and Aboriginal people.
It’s because of that right that the aboriginal community believes they should be heavily involved in consultation about projects that could impact the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Troy Jerome of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat said they are concerned because there are off shore petroleum boards that are being organized with the intention of looking at drilling off shore.
“This could totally disrupt our way of life,” he said. “We need to be consulted.”
He said they want to know what kind of effects the drilling could have. He also believes that more people throughout the Atlantic provinces need to know what’s going on.
“We think this kind of event and having a big name like Ethan Hawke could raise awareness,” he said.
The event will take place on Monday at 1 p.m. at 577 Summerside Road, Antigonish.
The water ceremony is held in each season to give offerings and honour the Mi’gmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land, and their resources.
The press conference will draw attention to the threat to the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence posed by offshore oil and gas development.
The Leadership of the Innu and the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gwa’gi formed a coalition in October 2013 to work together to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This coalition was formed with the intent to speak with one voice to protect the Aboriginal and Treaty rights and title throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence from potential hydrocarbon exploration.
Source: The News
Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition and Greenpeace Canada both oppose proposed changes which would scale back responsibilities of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and give the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) the power to conduct federal environmental assessments of projects in the region.
According to iPolitics, Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada said the change is a sop to the energy industry.
“This is about gutting environmental reviews in order to fast-track oil projects, as the Petroleum Board doesn’t have the expertise or the mandate to do a proper environmental assessment,” he said in an email response. “If you’re renovating your house, it might seem faster and cheaper to have your accountant double up as the architect, but then don’t be surprised when the fancy new addition collapses.”
Mary Gorman, spokesperson for Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, expressed similar outrage in an email to iPolitics.
“Entrenching powers for industry controlled offshore petroleum boards into Canada’s Environmental Assessment Act is not responsible conduct and will not lead to a responsible authority,” Gorman said. “Rather, it deepens the conflict of interest that the C-NSOPB is already in, as both a promoter of offshore development while simultaneously protecting the environment.”
Save Our Seas and Shores expressed opposition to this change in a July 22/2015 submission to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
According to iPolitics, the C-NSOPB will fill the role of the CEAA when necessary. As the government explains in its regulatory impact analysis statement, this is thanks to Bill C-22, which will allow the board to conduct these assessments. Then, C-NSOPB will perform the same functions as the National Energy Board (NEB), the market regulator for interprovincial and international pipelines and power lines, does for offshore projects everywhere except around Newfoundland and Labrador, where the CEAA will continue to conduct its assessments. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) — that region’s equivalent of the CNSOPB — “is not yet in a position to assume this role,” the government says.
In the past, the C-NSOPB carried out these reviews under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, before its overhaul in 2012.
To read the entire iPolitics article, Environmental groups decry change in N.S. offshore assessment process written by Mackenzie Scrimshaw, go here.