Threats to Jobs | Save Our Seas and Shores

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.

(OTTAWA)  January 22, 2016 – Elizabeth May is standing alongside local community leaders to denounce the decision of provincial and federal regulators to give Corridor Resources Inc. a free pass for the third time at the Old Harry site, a proposed deep water oil well in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

“This is a shocking decision,” stated the Green Party Leader. “Putting thousands of livelihoods and our environment at risk by continuing to explore for oil and natural gas in this critical ecosystem is unacceptable. To compound the problem by not even requiring them to pay their fee, that is really outrageous.”

Community groups have long been calling for a full moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Corridor Resources Inc. had until Friday, January 22 to pay a $1-million deposit to extend their licence, but provincial and federal regulators agreed to waive that fee earlier this week – the third time this has happened. The local fishing industry is worth in excess of $1.5 billion, and tourism along the Gulf directly employs tens of thousands of people across multiple provinces.

“This is a free pass to the oil and gas industry, and a slap in the face to fishermen, Aboriginal communities, and the local tourism industry, which all rely on the health of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” concluded May. “This licence should never have been extended, much less for free.”

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For additional information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Debra Eindiguer Debra.eindiguer@greenparty.ca

t: (613) 240-8921

Green Party of Canada | Parti vert du Canada

812-116 rue Albert Street Ottawa, ON K1P 5G3

The Canadian Press
Jan 15, 2016 2:05 pm EST

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Environmental activists who want a drilling moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence weren’t impressed Friday as regulators extended an oil exploration licence for the Old Harry site by another year.

Corridor Resources Inc. (TSX-CDH) of Halifax had until Friday to offer a $1 million deposit to extend the licence until next January.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board announced the province and Ottawa agreed to waive the fee. Federal and provincial Natural Resources ministers ratified the move “in consideration of regulatory factors that have resulted in … delays in drilling a validation well in the final year of (Corridor’s) nine-year licence term,” the board said in a news release.

Spokesman Sean Kelly said no one was available for further comment.

Corridor Resources President and CEO Steve Moran referred all questions to the offshore petroleum board.

“It’s awful,” said Sylvain Archambault of the St. Lawrence Coalition, one of several environmental and indigenous groups across Canada that have called for a drilling moratorium in the Gulf.

“This is the third time they’ve obtained such a free pass.”

In its news release, the offshore board said it will soon announce plans for consultations with aboriginal groups and the public on related environmental assessments. Such regulatory requirements must be complete before any drilling goes ahead, Kelly confirmed in an email.

The federal government has estimated the Gulf and surrounding areas potentially hold 39 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil.

Indigenous groups and environmental activists have urged a moratorium in the Gulf pending a scientific review of risks. They also want to see collective management strategies involving the five adjacent provinces — Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Drilling would be close to the shore of any province,” Archambault said Friday in an interview. The Old Harry site is about 80 kilometres west of Newfoundland. One theory is that it was named for a community on the nearby Magdalen Islands.

“Scientific spill scenarios clearly show that the west coast of Newfoundland would be impacted as well as Cape Breton and the Magdalen Islands,” Archambault said.

“In the Gulf there are fisheries worth over $1.5 billion. There’s tourism, communities living all around the Gulf. We really don’t want the same scenario that happened in the Gulf of Mexico to repeat itself here.”

The Deepwater Horizon explosion April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 rig workers. An estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil spewed into the water before engineers could cap the blown-out well 87 days later.

“And the Old Harry drilling site would be smack in the middle of the Laurentian Channel which is the highway used by all the migrating species — whales, salmon, cod,” Archambault said. “Anything happening there would be disastrous.”

Source: 680 News

First Nations from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec holding event on Monday By Elizabeth McMillan, CBC News Posted: Oct 23, 2015

(Leonard Adam/Getty Images)

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

TOM AYERS Cape Breton Bureau
Published October 22, 2015 – 11:28am

Oscar-nominated actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke is expected to attend a Mi’kmaq water ceremony on Monday at Paq’tnkek First Nation to support an aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“Ethan Hawke has some land in that area down there,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

“That’s why we were able to convince him to come out and do something with us, because he knows the area right there and he knows about the issue with the Gulf.”

Paq’tnkek Chief Paul (PJ) Prosper will host the secretariat — a group representing three First Nation communities along the Gaspe peninsula — along with Nova Scotia supporters and Innu and Maliseet from around the Gulf, at the ceremony at 1 p.m. on Summerside Road in Afton, Antigonish County.

That is near the site where the late Donald Marshall Jr. was arrested for eel fishing, an affair that ended with a Supreme Court decision in his name that confirmed the aboriginal right to fish.

This week, Shell Canada received approval to begin exploratory drilling off the southwest shore of Nova Scotia, while Corridor Resources, a Halifax junior exploration company, still has an interest in oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Aboriginals aren’t opposed to all petroleum exploration and drilling, said Jerome, but the waters of the Gulf need to be protected to ensure the aboriginal right to fish is not harmed.

Also, the entire region’s economy depends on fishing and tourism, which would be threatened by oil and gas development, he said.

“The Gulf is a very unique ecosystem, as opposed to other bodies of water, so I think there’s a hook there to say that (exploration) could happen in other areas, but in the Gulf, if there is some kind of accident out there, it’s going to devastate the whole economy, right from Halifax all the way to Gaspe and Newfoundland.”

The secretariat is backing a call made last year by Mi’kmaq chiefs and others for a 12-year moratorium on exploration in the Gulf and asking government regulators to commission an independent study of the entire Gulf region, instead of requiring companies to conduct limited studies within a smaller radius from potential exploration sites.

It is also hoping to raise awareness of the issues in the Gulf, where the counterclockwise current could carry pollutants around the shores of the four Atlantic provinces and Quebec, said Jerome, and sea ice in winter could make any cleanup difficult.

And at least three provincial regulatory bodies cover oil and gas development in the Gulf.

“We see this whole Gulf exploration happening under a shroud,” said Jerome. “They’re doing it in public, but the public doesn’t know that they could have a say about what’s happening.

“No one’s drilling right now, and we’re trying to make sure that no drilling occurs. The Mi’kmaq proposed a 12-year moratorium and people came back and said, ‘Why a 12-year moratorium?’

“For us, it’s quite clear that the Gulf is one large ecosystem, and you cannot study it by going to the Newfoundland portion and studying that, going to Quebec and studying that portion, and studying the Nova Scotia portion.”

Source: Chronicle Herald

Press Release, July 21/2015

In a powerful show of unity, First Nation communities and fishing industry representatives call on the Federal Ministers of Natural Resources, Environment, and Fisheries to suspend petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence until it can determine that these activities would pose no risk to commercial fisheries.

The Gulf’s Aboriginal Communities, Harvester, and Processor Associations, call on the federal government to hear public concerns and evaluate the risks of drilling in a semi- enclosed body of water that supports hundreds of coastal communities in 5 provinces.

“The government is ignoring that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is partially landlocked and one of the most sensitive and productive marine breeding regions in Canada with over 2,200 marine species that spawn, nurse and migrate year around. Due to the sensitive nature of the St. Lawrence it unlikely that a billion dollar fishing industry could withstand oil and gas development,” says Marilyn Clark, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association.  Although Strategic Environmental assessment (SEA) have been undertaken by both Newfoundland and Quebec, these inadequate assessments failed to look at the Gulf as a whole, she said.

“We know there is very little capacity to respond to an oil spill due to high winds and counter clockwise currents that only empty into the Atlantic once a year, leaving NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL coastlines vulnerable to contamination. Despite this, the environmental assessment process has been downgraded to allow companies to drill exploratory wells without consulting people depending on these waters for their livelihoods,” states fisherman Leonard Leblanc of Cheticamp, Nova Scotia.

Spill simulations undertaken by the Rimouski Institute of Ocean Science demonstrate that fish and plankton critical to the Gulf’s food chain would have to migrate through oil at both the Laurentian Channel and Straight of Belle Isle, which are entry and exit regions critical to the Gulf’s entire eco-system.

Even Corridor Resources, who wants to drill at Old Harry, acknowledge in their EA report that: “There are environmental and technological constraints to response and cleanup. High sea states and visibility are examples of typical environmental constraints, while technological constraints include pumping capacity of oil recovery devices and effectiveness of chemical dispersants.” Furthermore, several months of ice coverage in the winter escalate these important limitations.

Nearly two years ago, First Nations formed the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Alliance and signed an agreement to protect the Gulf from Oil and Gas Development. They have recently renewed this commitment and reiterated their request for a 12 year Moratorium.

To date, they have yet to be consulted on the Old Harry project.

“Quebec’s Environment Assessment (SEA) detailed many gaps in knowledge and understanding of the Gulf of St Lawrence.  We have existing Aboriginal rights and constitutionally protected Treaty Rights as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada. We will do all that is necessary to protect our way of life and prevent any exploratory plan to be carried out in the Gulf,” explains Troy Jerome, Executive Director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

In the event of a spill, Canadian law demands a company to have a measly 1 billion dollars of compensation monies. This is deeply inadequate when you consider that Gulf fisheries are worth more than one billion each year. Investments in boats, licenses, and fish plants dependent on renewable resources for their operations are worth far more than these proposed damages. The BP Macondo disaster cost BP over $40 billion dollars so far and could cost the company over $60billion due to ongoing litigation.

“How do you quantify damages to living species that have been around for thousands of years if you are not even taking into account ecological value?” asks Clark. “In short, the Gulf of St. Lawrence fishing industry will accept no less than a full, independent expert review panel, acting in the 5 provinces, as is warranted by public concerns in section 38 (2) b of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act”, she concludes.

For further information contact:

Marilyn Clark 902.774.0006 (French/English)
Director Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association

Troy Jerome 506.759.2000 (French/English) Executive Director

Nutewistoq, Mi’gmawei, Mawiomi Secretariat

Leonard LeBlanc 902-302-0794 (French/English)
Gulf Nova Scotia Fishermen’s Coalition

Ian MacPherson 902-566-4050 (English)
PEI Fishermen’s Association

Jean-Pierre Couillard 418-269-7701 (French)
Association des Capitaines Propriétaire de la Gaspésie

July 21, 2015

by Danielle Rochette

APTN National News

Eighteen organizations spread out over four provinces are banding together and calling on the federal government to stop any kind of oil exploration work in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The group sent a letter Tuesday to Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea and Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq. [See press release here]

“As fisheries representatives active in all parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we are writing to inform you that we will oppose any petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without prior consultation and a thorough understanding of the impacts to our seafood industry,” the letter states.

It’s not clear who penned the letter.

The Nutewistoq M’igmawei Mawiomi Secretariat is one of the organizations that is part of the coalition.

The group pointed out that the process that will allow companies to explore for oil, will also allow them to circumvent the environmental or consultation process.

“Given that exploratory drilling has been downgraded to a simple ‘screening exercise,’ which does not necessitate consultation with existing users, we demand that the Old Harry prospect be put to a full review panel as is warranted by public concern under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act” the letter states.

A Mi’kmaq group out of Quebec is already lobbying the Quebec government to put in place a 12-year moratorium on exploration work in the Gulf. [See APTN story here: Nations band together to fight future oil exploration in Gulf of Saint Lawrence]

There is also a coalition made up of environmental groups and First Nation communities fighting any kind of oil work. They’re concerned that thousands of fisheries and tourism jobs will be at stake if there is a spill in the Gulf.

“We would also like to remind the federal government that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a common body of water and that spills occurring in one area cannot be contained by provincial delineations,” they say in the letter.

The Gulf waters touch five provinces, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Source: Groups band together to fight oil exploration on Gulf of St. Lawrence – APTN National news

CTV News
July 8/2015

MONTREAL — Quebec must impose a 12-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to give time for a comprehensive assessment on possible risks to the ecosystem, the chiefs of three native groups said Wednesday.

The waters of the St. Lawrence are vital to the livelihoods of the Innu, Mi’kmaq and Maliseet nations and should be protected, they told a news conference in Montreal as the Assembly of First Nations continued its annual meeting.

They also asked federal party leaders to tell voters ahead of this fall’s election where they stand on the protection of the Gulf from development.

Mi’kmaq Chief Scott Martin said he feared an environmental catastrophe in the St. Lawrence similar to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that devastated parts of the southern U.S. coastline.

Martin added there are currently “numerous knowledge gaps” within oil-industry reports on risks associated with drilling along the waterway.

“The gulf is a highly productive body of water and diversity is very rich,” he told reporters. “No one can tell us what effect a blowout like a Deepwater Horizon can have on the food chain.”

Martin said he wants an “integrated assessment” of all the risks involved with resource exploitation in the area before Quebec grants exploration or drilling permits.

The chiefs said they decided the moratorium should last 12 years after calculating the time they thought it would take to conduct studies, write reports and consult the public.

Resource exploitation along the St. Lawrence River cannot be carried out without their consent, the chiefs said, adding the Supreme Court of Canada ruled native people must be consulted and accommodated before their territory can be used for commercial development.

Some chiefs were more hard line than others.

Innu Chief Jean-Charles Pietacho said his people won’t be silenced with petrodollars.

“Never will I accept royalties that come from (the oil and gas sector),” he said.

Anne Archambault, grand chief of the Viger Maliseet First Nation, was more nuanced in her comments, saying she needed to consult her people before deciding on royalties.

She said her people’s ancestral rights to the Atlantic salmon “take precedence over oil,” adding 95 per cent of her community’s revenue comes from the salmon industry.

Source: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/native-groups-seek-oil-and-gas-moratorium-in-gulf-of-st-lawrence-1.2459801

Native groups demand protection of Gulf from oil and gas development The Telegram

July 8/2015

Chiefs from the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Nations are demanding that federal party leaders tell voters whether they will protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence’s unique and vital ecosystem.

With Québec proposing to open the Gulf of St. Lawrence to oil and gas exploration, Chief Jean-Charles Piétacho of the Innu of Ekuanitshit said in a news release, “This is an issue that affects the livelihoods of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in five provinces and it is the federal government’s responsibility to protect them.”

The release notes that last month, Québec announced it would lift a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf and begin granting permits once legislation is in place. Newfoundland has already granted an exploration permit at the Old Harry Prospect, northeast of the Magdelen Islands, but drilling has not yet been allowed.

It says both Québec and Newfoundland’s powers are from the federal government and they will need federal government approval for major decisions. Old Harry is at the boundary used by Canada to assign each province its regulatory authority.

“The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico five years ago was an exploration well, like what the provincial governments want to allow,” said Chief Scott Martin of the Mi’gmaq of Listuguj. “We want federal party leaders to tell the people of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Québec whether they are willing to risk that kind of catastrophe in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.”

A strategic environmental assessment by Québec concluded that a catastrophe on the scale of Deepwater Horizon is “plausible” if exploration goes ahead. The native groups stress in their news release that results would be devastating for a commercial fishery around the Gulf worth $1.5 billion annually and a tourism industry that generates another $800 million per year.

The Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq communities of Québec formed an alliance in 2013 for the protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. At the Assembly of First Nations meeting in Halifax in 2014, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq chiefs from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined them in calling for a moratorium.

“The salmon has sustained our peoples since time immemorial and it migrates through the Gulf before it returns to our rivers to spawn,” said Grand Chief Anne Archambault of the Viger Maliseet First Nation. “We have rights protected under the Constitution to harvest what the Gulf gives to us and those rights take precedence over oil and gas.”

Source: http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2015-07-08/article-4207843/Native-groups-demand-protection-of-Gulf-from-oil-and-gas-development/1

Ask New Brunswick court to quash construction permit issued to Chaleur Terminals Inc., cite failure to consult CBC News

Jul 07, 2015

Mi’gmaq communities in the Gaspé region have take legal action against the New Brunswick government and Chaleur Terminals Inc., in a bid to halt construction of an oil terminal in Belledune, N.B.

Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation and the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat filed a notice of application with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Campbellton, N.B., on Monday.

They are seeking to quash the approval to construct permit, environmental approval permit and site approval issued to Chaleur Terminals by the New Brunswick Department of Environment earlier this year.

The band and not-for-profit corporation allege the provincial government has breached its “ongoing duty to consult and to seek to reach a reasonable accommodation with the applicants,” according to the court documents.

They want the court to issue an order prohibiting the government from issuing any further permits, approvals or authorizations to Chaleur Terminals “until such time as the province of New Brunswick has fulfilled its obligations to the applicants.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The New Brunswick government and Chaleur Terminals have not yet filed responses with the court.

Sacred duty to protect salmon

Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, contends the proposed project is in violation of aboriginal title, rights and treaties.

He says his people have a sacred duty to protect the salmon in the Matapedia and Restigouche rivers, along which the oil would be carried in rail cars.

​”Our people here fish salmon. If you look out on the river today, they’re out there fishing salmon. It’s our way of life. We’ve been doing that for thousands of years and we went and [did] what we had to do to defend our way of life in terms of protecting the salmon,” he said.

‘If there’s even one rail tank that spills into that river, it’s a lot more important to us than those 40 jobs.’- Troy Jerome, Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat

“We are one with the salmon. So the salmon [are] looking to us to protect them, and they provide us nourishment, so we have that kind of relationship, that direct relationship. And Chaleur Terminals right now, they’re talking about a couple of jobs, even up to 40 jobs — if there’s even one rail tank that spills into that river, it’s a lot more important to us than those 40 jobs.”

220 rail cars of Alberta oil daily

Chaleur Terminals, a subsidiary of Alberta-based Secure Energy Services, purchased 250 acres from the Port of Belledune last year. It plans to transport Alberta crude oil to Belledune by rail, for marine export abroad.

Construction is expected to start at the end of 2015 or 2016 and take about 18 months. Once complete, the project would see about 220 rail cars carrying oil to Belledune every day.

Jerome says people in the Gaspé area don’t have much faith in CN Railway after upgrades earlier this year caused irreversible damage to the local salmon population, according to anglers.

And he says efforts to discuss the project with the provincial and federal governments have so far not resulted in proper engagement.

In April, CN Railway dumped 6,000 tonnes of rocks on the side of its tracks to prevent erosion — and right into an important salmon breeding ground in the Matapedia River, causing irreversible damage, according to Quebec’s Atlantic Salmon Federation.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officials have said the rail company didn’t respect its maintenance work permit when it dumped the rocks during an important time in the Atlantic salmon breeding cycle.

A total of 22 municipalities in Quebec have voiced opposition to Chaleur Terminals’ project in Belledune.

Local politicians in New Brunswick, however, have said they welcome the estimated 200 jobs it will create during construction and 40 permanent full-time jobs once it’s in operation.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/quebec-first-nations-take-legal-action-against-belledune-oil-terminal-1.3141269

Regulatory Issues | Save Our Seas and Shores

2263645-8033053

It’s like a bad dream that you can’t wake up from. The company that has wanted to drill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for nine years, the same company responsible for seismic testing while the endangered blue whale was migrating, wants a new license.

This in spite of numerous calls for a moratorium on all oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and an historic statement from the Chiefs of the Mi’qmawei Mawiomi calling for a 12-year moratorium on oil and gas in The Gulf.

We need to wake up from this nightmare. It is up to the federal Minister of Natural Resources, Bill Carr and the Newfoundland and Labrador Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady to make this stop, and they will receive your comments and letters until October 17th in response to this request for a new license.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the most precious marine ecosystems we have. Given the federal government’s commitment to better environmental regulation and protection of our oceans, it’s time to declare the Gulf of St. Lawrence off limits to oil and gas and to start making good on promises.

Please send your letter  today! 

Thank you for taking action.

tree_bullet-80x98-4961504Gretchen Fitzgerald – National Program Director
Sierra Club Canada Foundation

Save Our Seas and Shores, PEI Chapter c/o Voluntary Resource Centre 81 Prince St. Charlottetown PEI

C1A 4R3

September 26, 2016

Hon. James Gordon Carr Minister of Natural Resources

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E4

Hon. Siobhan Coady Minister of Natural Resources PO Box 8700 St. John’s NL A1B 4J6

Dear Ministers:

Re: Proposed Issuance of New Licence to Corridor Resources by Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board

The Prince Edward Island chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS PEI) protests the proposed issuance of a new exploration licence to Corridor Resources to replace the licence it has held since 2008 (Exploration Licence No. 1105) for the same lands. SOSS PEI urges you to refrain from approving issuance of this new licence to Corridor Resources.

Exploration Licence No. 1105 was issued on January 15, 2008 for the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, located mid-way between the Magdalen Islands and the west coast of Newfoundland. This four-year licence was extended in 2011, 2013 and most recently on January 4, 2016. In January 2017, Licence No. 1105 will reach the maximum non-renewable term of nine years. We note that, for each extension, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (the NL Board) waived the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension.

In its notice in the Canada Gazette (2016-09-17), the NL Board proposes to issue the new licence pursuant to paragraph 61(1)(b) of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act, S.C., 1987, c.3, and paragraph 60(1)(b) of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act, R.S.N.L. 1990, c. C-2. These paragraphs state that the board may issue an interest without making a call for bids where “the board is issuing the interest to an interest owner for the surrender by the interest owner, at the request of the board, of another interest or a share of another interest, in relation to all or a portion of the offshore area subject to that other interest.” In this case, the NL Board is proposing a new licence for “the same lands as those associated with Exploration Licence No. 1105” (as stated in the Canada Gazette), not for “another interest or a share of another interest.” Such a misuse of the provisions of the Act to circumvent the nine year maximum term of a licence should not be permitted.

The notice in the Canada Gazette states that the new licence “will provide appropriate time for a robust review process…” We note that the NL Board has had plenty of time to initiate a robust review process. In August 2011, the NL Board contracted with former New Brunswick Ombudsman Bernard Richard to carry out an independent review of the Old Harry project, then in February 2012 terminated his contract, without justification, before any public consultations were held. Since then, the NL Board has dragged its heels despite numerous inquiries asking when and how these consultations will be carried out. The issuance of a new licence to Corridor Resources to cover for the NL Board’s inexplicable failure to conduct a review or the required public and Aboriginal consultations would be an abuse of process.

We note that, in a Canadian Press article printed in the Charlottetown Guardian on September 17, 2016, the Natural Resources Canada spokesperson is quoted as saying that the government will take into account feedback received through the Canada Gazette process in deciding whether to approve the new licence. We strongly urge you to take our concerns into account and refuse to approve the new licence for Corridor Resources on the Old Harry prospect.

Sincerely,

Colin Jeffrey

Chair, Save Our Seas and Shores-PEI Chapter (SOSS PEI)
SOSS is a coalition of fishing organizations, environmental and tourism groups, coastal landowners, First Nations organizations, and individuals who are concerned that the ecologically rich and diverse Gulf of St. Lawrence, home to over 4,000 marine species, is particularly sensitive to any disturbance caused by seismic surveys, exploration and drilling for oil and gas. cc Sean Kelly, Manager of Public Relations, C-NLOPB Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Elizabeth May, MP and Leader, Green Party of Canada Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, MP Hon. Wayne Easter, MP Sean Casey, MP Robert Morrissey, MP Hon. H. Wade MacLauchlan, Premier of Prince Edward Island Hon. Robert Mitchell, Minister of Communities, Land and Environment Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Hon. Alan McIsaac, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries

Greg Wilson, Manager, Environmental Land Management

Opponents say it’s about time the federal government intervened to protect the area.
By Ian Bickis

The Canadian Press
Sept. 16, 2016

CALGARY—A regulator’s proposal to give more time to an energy company that wants to drill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is provoking anger from opponents who say it’s high time the federal government intervene to protect the area.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board said Friday it is proposing to grant Corridor Resources a new four-year exploration licence in an area known as Old Harry because there isn’t enough time to complete consultations and an environmental assessment before its current licence expires Jan. 14.

“We’re reeling, absolutely reeling,” said Mary Gorman, co-founder of the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition, which has been pushing against the Halifax-based company’s drilling plans for the nine years it has had a licence for exploratory drilling in Old Harry.

“It’s like ‘Groundhog Day.’ You’re stuck in some kind of time warp that keeps repeating itself.”

The Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition and other environmental and First Nation groups have been calling for a moratorium to prevent offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence over concerns of the potential effects a spill would have on the area’s sensitive ecology.

“I would say to the honourable prime minister, ‘Where’s the beef?’” Gorman said. “What are you actually doing to protect the East Coast. … You got every seat out of us. Where are you for us now?”

The federal government could not immediately be reached for comment.

The board, which regulates Newfoundland’s offshore oil industry, said its proposal would give it the time needed to conduct a review of drilling in Old Harry. The proposal requires the approval of the provincial and federal governments.

Provincial Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady said in a statement that the government will take time to consider it.

“Our decision will be informed by evidence, including feedback from stakeholders, as well as our social licence,” Coady said. “We support responsible economic development, protection of the environment, and worker health and safety in Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore.”

Corridor Resources did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The federal government has estimated that the Gulf and surrounding areas potentially hold 39 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil.

The Old Harry site is located about 80 kilometres off the southwest tip of Newfoundland.

Source: Toronto Star

Lobster fisherman wary of Gulf of St. Lawrence oil drilling FRAM DINSHAW STAFF REPORTER Published May 10, 2016 – 6:25pm

Last Updated May 11, 2016 – 8:55am

As lobster season gets underway Tuesday in Cape Breton, a top local fisherman is warning that oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence could wreak havoc on local marine life.

“It could ruin our industry,” said Jordan MacDougall, president of the Inverness South Fisherman’s Association.

He warned that any oil spill would settle on the seabed — prime lobster habitat — and devastate their populations.

“You wouldn’t be able to sell your product and it would probably give Canada a negative name for that product from other areas,” said MacDougall.

His comments come just four months after regulators granted a one-year extension on an oil exploration licence for Corridor Resources Inc. at the Old Harry site off the western coast of Newfoundland, in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

But some warn that drilling for oil at Old Harry may detonate a ticking time bomb.

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, a 10,000-barrel oil spill at Old Harry in winter would hit the coasts of Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Les Iles de-la-Madeleine, which belong to Quebec. Simulations at other times of year also predict oil hitting the west and southern coastline of Newfoundland.

The areas that would be worst-affected by any spill would likely vary between seasons, but the Gulf of Saint Lawrence’s prevailing current runs anti-clockwise, which would push oil away from the open Atlantic and potentially endanger all five provinces bordering it.

“The Gulf of Saint Lawrence should be off-limits for drilling because it’s an extremely valuable marine area in terms of fisheries — lobster, tuna, snow crab, as well as herring,” said federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

She also said the gulf was home to several species of endangered whales. The Species at Risk Public Registry lists blue whales as living in the gulf. The Alternative Journal also listed belugas as endangered in late 2014 after their numbers in the Saint Lawrence estuary and gulf dropped below 1,000.

“It’s really critical that we have protection of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence,” said May.

But she said that needed environmental protections were stripped away by the former Conservative government when it passed C-38 in 2012, an omnibus bill that reduced protections for Canadian fisheries and fish habitats. Protection is now limited to only commercial, recreational or First Nations fisheries. Furthermore, the new law forbids only the killing of fish or the permanent altering of their habitats.

C-38 also included a new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, replacing a stricter law that was passed in 1992, according to the Environmental Law Centre (ELC).

The 2012 act removed the requirement for a federal environmental assessment for all development projects. Even in cases when a project is designated by regulation, C-38 allows the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to determine that an assessment is not required.

Secondly, the federal government may decide not to conduct its own environmental assessment of a designated project on the basis that the project is being assessed provincially, which the ELC maintains is a delegation of federal power and jurisdiction to the provinces.

This leaves provincial agencies such as the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum board free to conduct their own assessments without referring to the federal cabinet, according to May.

“The rest of Canada is not paying attention to these smaller agencies that got power to do environmental assessments under Harper,” said May, who added that C-38 had to be repealed by the present Liberal government.

May also criticized the renewal of Corridor Resources Inc.’s oil exploration licence for free in January.

“It’s the fourth year they’ve gotten it for free,” said May.

However, the CNLOPB said that environmental protection was a top priority when reviewing applications for oil drilling in areas like Old Harry.

“The Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board delivers world-class regulatory oversight with safety and environmental protection as our top priorities.

“A comprehensive strategic environmental assessment update was completed for the Western Newfoundland Offshore Area in 2014, and a project-specific environmental assessment would also be required prior to authorization of a drilling program under the board’s jurisdiction,” said board spokesman Sean Kelly in an email.

He added that other obligations had to be met regarding installations, training and competency, emergency response plans, financial capacity and the industrial benefits of a proposed program.

The Herald tried contacting both Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Corridor Resources Inc.’s CEO Steve Moran for more information but was unable to reach them by late Tuesday afternoon.

Source: Chronicle Herald  (Links added – not contained in original article.)

January 25, 2016

Hon. James Gordon Carr Minister of Natural Resources

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E4

Hon. Siobhan Coady Minister of Natural Resources PO Box 8700

St. John’s NL A1B 4J6

Dear Ministers:

Re: Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Gulf of St. Lawrence

I am writing of behalf of the Prince Edward Island chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS PEI). SOSS is a coalition of fishing organizations, environmental and tourism groups, coastal landowners, First Nations organizations, and individuals who are concerned that the ecologically rich and diverse Gulf of St. Lawrence, home to over 4,000 marine species, is particularly sensitive to any disturbance caused by seismic surveys, exploration and drilling for oil and gas.

As you know, for the third time in the past four years, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (the NL Board) has granted a one-year extension to Corridor Resources exploration licence on the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, located mid-way between the Magdalen Islands and the west coast of Newfoundland. Citing regulatory factors as its reason, the NL Board also waived, for the third time in four years, the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension. The “regulatory factors” the NL Board referred to is the requirement for public and Aboriginal consultations which the Board must hold as part of the environmental assessment for this project.

In August 2011, the NL Board contracted with former New Brunswick Ombudsman Bernard Richard to carry out an independent review of the Old Harry project, then in February 2012 terminated his contract, without justification, before any public consultations were held. Since then, the NL Board has dragged its heels despite numerous inquiries asking when and how these consultations will be carried out. Even now, the NL Board in its January 15, 2016 news release, says it will announce plans for consultations with Aboriginal groups and the public “at a later date”, not sometime soon. 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 NL Board. In 2012, the Board contracted with AMEC Environment and Infrastructure to update the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Newfoundland portion of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 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.” During the time the SEA was being conducted, the NL Board issued a call for bids for licences, including 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, and the complex and deteriorating state of the Gulf. The lack of social acceptability was apparent from the results of the public consultations held in the five Gulf provinces. Of 597 written submissions and verbal comments, 582 expressed concerns regarding continued petroleum exploration in the Gulf. The logical conclusion, based on the findings in the report, would have been that the known risks outweigh the potential benefits. Instead of the normal procedure in which the authors of a report write the conclusions, the NL Board made the bizarre decision to write the conclusions itself. (This fact is no longer obvious in the final report on the Board’s website, perhaps due to criticism the Board received for writing its own conclusions.) Predictably, the NL Board concluded that “petroleum exploration activities generally can be undertaken in the Western NL area using the mitigation measures identified in the document.”

In addition, the Board concluded that suggestions that petroleum exploration activities in the Gulf should cease were policy decisions not within its mandate, despite the fact that the purpose of the report was, as noted above, to assist the Board in deciding whether to continue offering exploration rights in the NL portion of the Gulf.

As you know, to date 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 after a public review panel responded to public and Aboriginal concerns 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 are to facilitate the exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources in the NL Offshore and to protect the environment and worker safety. As noted in the Wells Report of 2010, these are conflicting roles. Clearly, the NL Board shows by its actions and decisions that protecting the Gulf ecosystem is not a priority.

We believe that the federal and NL governments have abrogated their responsibilities to oversee the decisions of this appointed body. Decisions, including the recent free extension of Corridor Resources licence, appear to have been rubber-stamped by the federal and NL Ministers of Natural Resources. Only NL benefits from oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf, while the other four Gulf provinces share the risks. The protection of marine species and the rights of the First Nations, fishers, and other residents of the Gulf provinces to protect the Gulf ecosystem and pursue their livelihoods are being ignored.

In light of the failure of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to act in a responsible manner, SOSS PEI is calling on the federal and Newfoundland and Labrador governments to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to offshore oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Sincerely, Ellie Reddin

Past-Chair, Save Our Seas and Shores-PEI Chapter (SOSS PEI)

c. Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, MP Hon. Wayne Easter, MP Sean Casey, MP Robert Morrissey, MP Hon. H. Wade MacLauchlan, Premier of Prince Edward Island Hon. Robert Mitchell, Minister of Communities, Land and Environment Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Hon. Alan McIsaac, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries

Greg Wilson, Manager, Environmental Land Management

Defenders of the Gulf of St. Lawrence who live on Prince Edward Island are telling James Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, and his provincial counterpart in Newfoundland and Labrador Siobhan Coady that it is time to pull the plug on the C-NLOPB.

This action follows the publication of Ellie Reddin’s Jan 27th article in the Journal Pioneer and PEI’s The Guardian, which pointed out a series of irresponsible, biased decisions made by the C-NLOPB over the past several years, including their recent decision to provide Corridor Resources a third extension on their exploration license for the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In her followup letter to the Ministers, Reddin wrote: “Citing regulatory factors as its reason, the [C-NLOPB] also waived, for the third time in four years, the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension. The “regulatory factors” the Board referred to is the requirement for public and Aboriginal consultations which the Board must hold as part of the environmental assessment for this project.”

“Decisions, including the recent free extension of Corridor Resources licence, appear to have been rubber-stamped by the federal and NL Ministers of Natural Resources. Only NL benefits from oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf, while the other four Gulf provinces share the risks. The protection of marine species and the rights of the First Nations, fishers, and other residents of the Gulf provinces to protect the Gulf ecosystem and pursue their livelihoods are being ignored.”

In light of the failure of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to act in a responsible manner, SOSS PEI is calling on it’s members to write to the Ministers to demand that the federal and Newfoundland and Labrador governments to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to offshore oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

See SOSS PEI full letter to federal Minister James Carr, and NL Minister of Natural Resources Siobhan Coady here.

The Gulf needs your support. Add your voice to SOSS PEI’s by sending a short email message to the Ministers – here’s is a sample message you could copy and paste, or personalize as you wish:

Dear Ministers:

I am writing to express my support for the letter you recently received from SOSS PEI regarding the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. As outlined in the letter, the C-NLOPB has shown by its actions and decisions over the past several years that it is failing to carry out its responsibility to protect the Gulf environment. As Ministers responsible for the C-NLOPB, please act to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

(Your Name)
(Your home community and province)

Email addresses for the two Ministers are:
Minister.Ministre@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca and siobhancoady@gov.nl.ca

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.

Ellie Reddin Save Our Seas and Shores-P.E.I. Chapter

Cornwall, PEI

Source: Journal Pioneer

(OTTAWA)  January 22, 2016 – Elizabeth May is standing alongside local community leaders to denounce the decision of provincial and federal regulators to give Corridor Resources Inc. a free pass for the third time at the Old Harry site, a proposed deep water oil well in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

“This is a shocking decision,” stated the Green Party Leader. “Putting thousands of livelihoods and our environment at risk by continuing to explore for oil and natural gas in this critical ecosystem is unacceptable. To compound the problem by not even requiring them to pay their fee, that is really outrageous.”

Community groups have long been calling for a full moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Corridor Resources Inc. had until Friday, January 22 to pay a $1-million deposit to extend their licence, but provincial and federal regulators agreed to waive that fee earlier this week – the third time this has happened. The local fishing industry is worth in excess of $1.5 billion, and tourism along the Gulf directly employs tens of thousands of people across multiple provinces.

“This is a free pass to the oil and gas industry, and a slap in the face to fishermen, Aboriginal communities, and the local tourism industry, which all rely on the health of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” concluded May. “This licence should never have been extended, much less for free.”

– 30 –

For additional information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Debra Eindiguer Debra.eindiguer@greenparty.ca

t: (613) 240-8921

Green Party of Canada | Parti vert du Canada

812-116 rue Albert Street Ottawa, ON K1P 5G3

Canada

PRESS RELEASE
Montréal, January 19 2016

Against all odds, the Canada – Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (the Board), with the approval of both federal and Newfoundland Natural Resources ministers (James Carr and Siobhan Coady), extended Corridor Resources’ exploration license EL1105 on the Old Harry site for an extra year, a license that was set to expire last Friday January 15. This favour was granted without even requiring the mandatory one million dollars drilling deposit to obtain an extension. It is the third time in four years that Corridor obtains such a special privilege, a situation that is strongly denounced by the St. Lawrence Coalition.

The Board justifies this exploration license extension by saying it is necessary in order to hold public as well as First Nations consultations. Yet, ex-Environment Minister Peter Kent had already asked the Board in August 2011, over four years ago, to hold such “extensive public consultations”. The Board did set up an inter-provincial consultation in September 2011, to be under the direction of Commissioner Bernard Richard, but it was canceled in February 2012 by the Board, without justification, a few days before it officially started.

Danielle Giroux, president of Attention FragÎles and Sylvain Archambault, biologist (SNAP Québec) and spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition.

“The required consultations have still not been held. And now the Board dares to say that the extension is needed to perform consultations that they have been pushing forward for the last four years. This is disrespectful to all the citizens, scientists, fishermen, First Nations, who, for many years, have had deep concerns about the dangers of such offshore drillings” says Sylvain Archambault, biologist (SNAP Québec) and spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition.

In the Magdalen Islands, people are also distressed with this news: “The Corridor Resources drilling project, a mere 80 km from the archipelago, stirs up major concerns with numerous citizens and organizations on the islands. During the past few years, Magdalen Islanders have voiced regularly their opposition to the drilling project and their fears over the impacts of opening the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the oil industry” emphasizes Danielle Giroux, president of Attention FragÎles.

“Corridor Resources is a junior company with no offshore experience and limited financial means. Even if the firm struggles to fulfill its license obligations and survives from extension to extension since 2008, it still holds two licenses on the Quebec portion of Old Harry, licenses currently under moratorium. Why would Quebec take enormous risks by lifting its moratorium and associating itself with a junior company struggling to keep its license in Newfoundland?” asks Christian Simard of Nature Québec.

“The Gulf of St. Lawrence is host to great biological diversity and its durable fishing and tourism industries should be encouraged” says Jean-Patrick Toussaint, Science Project Manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. “For many years, numerous groups, citizens and scientists, have asked the federal minister of Natural Resources to work in a concerted manner with the five Gulf provinces to put in place a true integrated management of the Gulf. As a matter of fact, the federal government has recently committed to better protect Canada’s marine areas, including the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The federal government should invite the provinces to work together for better protection of the Gulf, rather than giving a free-pass to Corridor Resources” concludes Mr Toussaint.
– 30 –

The St. Lawrence Coalition is composed of 85 organizations and associations, including First Nations, and over 5000 individuals from various economic sectors and the 5 coastal provinces. Members of the Coalition are calling for a moratorium on exploration and exploitation of oil and gas across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The St. Lawrence Coalition is overseen by a steering committee composed of Attention FragÎles, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS Québec) and Nature Québec.

Please download the St. Lawrence Coalition report on oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence “Gulf 101”

PEI Chapter of SOSS Blog | Save Our Seas and Shores

January 25, 2016

Hon. James Gordon Carr Minister of Natural Resources

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E4

Hon. Siobhan Coady Minister of Natural Resources PO Box 8700

St. John’s NL A1B 4J6

Dear Ministers:

Re: Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Gulf of St. Lawrence

I am writing of behalf of the Prince Edward Island chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS PEI). SOSS is a coalition of fishing organizations, environmental and tourism groups, coastal landowners, First Nations organizations, and individuals who are concerned that the ecologically rich and diverse Gulf of St. Lawrence, home to over 4,000 marine species, is particularly sensitive to any disturbance caused by seismic surveys, exploration and drilling for oil and gas.

As you know, for the third time in the past four years, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (the NL Board) has granted a one-year extension to Corridor Resources exploration licence on the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, located mid-way between the Magdalen Islands and the west coast of Newfoundland. Citing regulatory factors as its reason, the NL Board also waived, for the third time in four years, the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension. The “regulatory factors” the NL Board referred to is the requirement for public and Aboriginal consultations which the Board must hold as part of the environmental assessment for this project.

In August 2011, the NL Board contracted with former New Brunswick Ombudsman Bernard Richard to carry out an independent review of the Old Harry project, then in February 2012 terminated his contract, without justification, before any public consultations were held. Since then, the NL Board has dragged its heels despite numerous inquiries asking when and how these consultations will be carried out. Even now, the NL Board in its January 15, 2016 news release, says it will announce plans for consultations with Aboriginal groups and the public “at a later date”, not sometime soon. 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 NL Board. In 2012, the Board contracted with AMEC Environment and Infrastructure to update the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Newfoundland portion of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 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.” During the time the SEA was being conducted, the NL Board issued a call for bids for licences, including 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, and the complex and deteriorating state of the Gulf. The lack of social acceptability was apparent from the results of the public consultations held in the five Gulf provinces. Of 597 written submissions and verbal comments, 582 expressed concerns regarding continued petroleum exploration in the Gulf. The logical conclusion, based on the findings in the report, would have been that the known risks outweigh the potential benefits. Instead of the normal procedure in which the authors of a report write the conclusions, the NL Board made the bizarre decision to write the conclusions itself. (This fact is no longer obvious in the final report on the Board’s website, perhaps due to criticism the Board received for writing its own conclusions.) Predictably, the NL Board concluded that “petroleum exploration activities generally can be undertaken in the Western NL area using the mitigation measures identified in the document.”

In addition, the Board concluded that suggestions that petroleum exploration activities in the Gulf should cease were policy decisions not within its mandate, despite the fact that the purpose of the report was, as noted above, to assist the Board in deciding whether to continue offering exploration rights in the NL portion of the Gulf.

As you know, to date 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 after a public review panel responded to public and Aboriginal concerns 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 are to facilitate the exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources in the NL Offshore and to protect the environment and worker safety. As noted in the Wells Report of 2010, these are conflicting roles. Clearly, the NL Board shows by its actions and decisions that protecting the Gulf ecosystem is not a priority.

We believe that the federal and NL governments have abrogated their responsibilities to oversee the decisions of this appointed body. Decisions, including the recent free extension of Corridor Resources licence, appear to have been rubber-stamped by the federal and NL Ministers of Natural Resources. Only NL benefits from oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf, while the other four Gulf provinces share the risks. The protection of marine species and the rights of the First Nations, fishers, and other residents of the Gulf provinces to protect the Gulf ecosystem and pursue their livelihoods are being ignored.

In light of the failure of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to act in a responsible manner, SOSS PEI is calling on the federal and Newfoundland and Labrador governments to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to offshore oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Sincerely, Ellie Reddin

Past-Chair, Save Our Seas and Shores-PEI Chapter (SOSS PEI)

c. Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, MP Hon. Wayne Easter, MP Sean Casey, MP Robert Morrissey, MP Hon. H. Wade MacLauchlan, Premier of Prince Edward Island Hon. Robert Mitchell, Minister of Communities, Land and Environment Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Hon. Alan McIsaac, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries

Greg Wilson, Manager, Environmental Land Management

Defenders of the Gulf of St. Lawrence who live on Prince Edward Island are telling James Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, and his provincial counterpart in Newfoundland and Labrador Siobhan Coady that it is time to pull the plug on the C-NLOPB.

This action follows the publication of Ellie Reddin’s Jan 27th article in the Journal Pioneer and PEI’s The Guardian, which pointed out a series of irresponsible, biased decisions made by the C-NLOPB over the past several years, including their recent decision to provide Corridor Resources a third extension on their exploration license for the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In her followup letter to the Ministers, Reddin wrote: “Citing regulatory factors as its reason, the [C-NLOPB] also waived, for the third time in four years, the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension. The “regulatory factors” the Board referred to is the requirement for public and Aboriginal consultations which the Board must hold as part of the environmental assessment for this project.”

“Decisions, including the recent free extension of Corridor Resources licence, appear to have been rubber-stamped by the federal and NL Ministers of Natural Resources. Only NL benefits from oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf, while the other four Gulf provinces share the risks. The protection of marine species and the rights of the First Nations, fishers, and other residents of the Gulf provinces to protect the Gulf ecosystem and pursue their livelihoods are being ignored.”

In light of the failure of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to act in a responsible manner, SOSS PEI is calling on it’s members to write to the Ministers to demand that the federal and Newfoundland and Labrador governments to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to offshore oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

See SOSS PEI full letter to federal Minister James Carr, and NL Minister of Natural Resources Siobhan Coady here.

The Gulf needs your support. Add your voice to SOSS PEI’s by sending a short email message to the Ministers – here’s is a sample message you could copy and paste, or personalize as you wish:

Dear Ministers:

I am writing to express my support for the letter you recently received from SOSS PEI regarding the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. As outlined in the letter, the C-NLOPB has shown by its actions and decisions over the past several years that it is failing to carry out its responsibility to protect the Gulf environment. As Ministers responsible for the C-NLOPB, please act to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

(Your Name)
(Your home community and province)

Email addresses for the two Ministers are:
Minister.Ministre@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca and siobhancoady@gov.nl.ca

On Saturday, November 1st, the Prince Edward Island Preserve Co. in New Glasgow, PEI hosted a fundraising dinner in support of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter’s Blue Whale Campaign to protect the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Save Our Seas and Shores PEI and Sierra Club member, Colin Jeffery, spoke to those in attendance, highlighting and expanding upon some of the more notable threats that have already begun to impact the health of the Gulf, such as: climate change, excess nutrients and invasive species. Jeffery then focused his talk on the perils of oil and gas explorations that further threaten the hypersensitive and already fragile ecosystem within Gulf waters.

The Blue Whale Dinner was a successful fundraising event, but equally, and perhaps more so, it raised public awareness on the issues that directly impact the overall health and sustainability of life in the five provinces that border the Gulf, as well as the Gulf’s role as an integral part of a greater ecosystem far beyond our shores. As past-chair of the Save Our Seas and Shores PEI, Ellie Reddin stated, “It was a lovely evening…[and] it would make a fine annual event!”.

The Blue Whale Campaign is building public support for increased protection of our threatened Gulf ecosystem and a moratorium on oil and gas development in these waters.Read a more in depth account of the Blue Whale Dinner on the PEI Preserve company Blog post here.

Over the past number of months, all municipalities in Prince Edward Island were provided information by PEI SOSS in the form of a Resolution on Oil and Gas Exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence . The proposed resolution provided two options for municipalities: Moratorium until Review/Public Consultation Occurs and Moratorium Leading to Ban.

Since then, the following municipalities have informed us that they have discussed and approved a resolution with one or both of the two options presented, and have sent a letter to the Premier to indicate their respective councils’ positions. Those municipal councils who have passed the resolution are as follows:

Victoria-by-the-Sea (moratorium)
North Rustico (permanent ban)
Cavendish
Miltonvale Park
Murray Harbour
Murray River (both options)
Breadalbane

Bonshaw Community Council will present an updated Resolution to the Federation of PEI Municipalities at their AGM on April 28th. Many thanks to all who have taken initiative in their respective areas to further this cause & protect of the Gulf!

On November 26th, 2013, that Standing Committee on Fisheries, Transportation and Rural Development recommended in its recent report to the Legislature that the government act on the requests that PEI Save Our Seas and Shores put forward in our petition calling for, “a moratorium on all oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence”. See recommendation 5 and the related discussion here.

The transcript of Sylvain Archambault’s presentation to the Standing Committee on Fisheries, Transportation and Rural Development is now available here.

Similarly, in Prince Edward Island’s Legislative Assembly, the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry presented their recommendations to the government. The entire report is of interest and, like the Standing Committee on Fisheries, Transportation and Rural Development (the report I sent you yesterday), the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry recommends the requests of PEI SOSS petition be adopted.

See the video and skip forward to 88 minutes.

The written report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry (which includes a more detailed discussion) is available here.

Let’s hope the government gives adequate weight to the recommendations of the two standing committees!

Elizabeth Young Environmental Assessment Officer Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board Fifth Floor, TD Place 140 Water St.

St. John’s, NL A1C 6H6

Dear Ms Young,
I am writing to respond to the publicly released draft of the Western Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Update report. I would like to thank you for providing an opportunity to respond to this important and influential document.

The SEA Update report provides a clear picture of the current offshore oil and gas industry in Newfoundland/ Labrador and some of the potential impacts of an expansion in offshore drilling along Newfoundland’s west coast. However, this report continuously downplays the actual risks of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and contains several omissions including no discussion of the environmental impacts of dispersants or the impacts of sea ice and high winds on oil spill response effectiveness.

Regarding the environmental impacts of chemical dispersants, particularly Corexit, the SEA Update report does not discuss these despite its claim to do so and despite the fact that new research suggests when Corexit becomes mixed with oil the toxicity of the mixture increases up to 52-fold (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/23/corexit-oil-spill-gulf_n_3134963.html).

Regarding responses to large and small spills of oil and other contaminants in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the SEA Update report does not discuss factors limiting these responses including seasonal high winds, waves and sea ice. In particular, the unusual obstacle of seasonal sea ice to offshore spill clean-up activities is not addressed. Research on the effectiveness of oil spill clean-up activities suggests that under even under ideal weather conditions only a small percentage of the spilled oil can actually be removed from the water. With this caveat in mind it is by no means clear that offshore operators have the means to effectively clean up an oil spill when high winds or sea ice are present. The failure of the SEA Update report to address this issue is a large oversight and should be rectified.

Public comments in the SEA Update report are not clearly presented, obscuring the fact that public concerns around offshore development in the Gulf are widespread. Of the 516 comments from the consultation sessions in the draft Consultation Report (Appendix A), only eight (8) could be considered to be supportive of offshore development in the Gulf. Surprisingly, this lack of social license to drill in the Gulf is not addressed and does not appear to be taken into consideration in the draft SEA Update report.

Finally, the omission of a conclusion gives the public no opportunity to comment on AMEC’s recommendations on future offshore drilling activities in the western Newfoundland region before they are finalized. This appears to be a clear attempt to limit meaningful public comments (including those from knowledgeable academics and scientists) on the most important segment of the SEA Update report; namely, AMEC’s recommendations on future offshore activity after a comprehensive review of the facts.

I thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft SEA Update report and hope that AMEC and the NLOPB consider seriously the oversights and omissions pointed out by myself and others.

Sincerely, Colin Jeffrey

York, PE C0A 1P0

https://www.facebook.com/events/575211705860496/

Read here what The Guardian news of PEI says about the issue and these public talks.

Submission from Save Our Seas and Shores PEI to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board

At its meeting on September 10, 2013, members of the Prince Edward Island Chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores decided to make the following submission in response to the draft Western Newfoundland Offshore Area Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) update report.

WHEREAS the Western Newfoundland Offshore SEA draft report clearly acknowledges the following:

  • The biological importance and sensitivity of Newfoundland’s offshore area in the Gulf of St. Lawrence;
  • The importance of fisheries and tourism to the regional economy;
  • Not enough is known about the biology of the Gulf and the impact of oil and gas activities on it;
  • Uncertainties about the efficiency of mitigation measures;
  • The enormous impact that any oil spill in the Gulf would have;
  • The lack of social acceptance, in any of the five provinces bordering on the Gulf, of the idea of oil exploration in the Gulf.

WHEREAS intervention capacity in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is inadequate (as has been shown by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development);

WHEREAS in the early 2000s, the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC) and the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries both recommended a moratorium on petroleum exploration in the Gulf;

WHEREAS liability for oil companies is still limited to $30 million, and even if increased to $1 billion as currently proposed, would remain inadequate considering the potential costs associated with a major spill;

WHEREAS any major spill could negatively affect all five Gulf provinces; and

WHEREAS an integrated environmental review of polluting industrial activities and climate change and their cumulative impact in the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence has still not been performed;

The PEI Chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores recommends that the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board :

  • Put a moratorium on the issuing of any new exploration licenses in the Western Newfoundland offshore area;
  • Cancel the call for bids issued on May 16th 2013 for four parcels in the Western Newfoundland offshore area;
  • Refrain from giving authorization to projects currently submitted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including Corridor Resources’ Old Harry project and Shoal Point Energy and Black Spruce Exploration’s Western Newfoundland drilling program.

Prince Edward Islanders are also responding!

Here is Ellie Reddin’s submission to the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

August 6, 2013

Elizabeth Young Environmental Assessment Officer Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board Fifth Floor, TD Place 140 Water St.

St. John’s, NL A1C 6H6

Dear Ms. Young:

Thank you for sending me a copy of the draft Western Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Update report and inviting me to provide comments. I found the report to be informative and extensive. These are my comments:

Consultation report:
Throughout the draft report, references to feedback from the consultation sessions refer to wide-ranging and diverse comments, but do not indicate that comments urging protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas exploration and development were much more frequent than those promoting such activity. Of 81 written submissions included on the C-NLOPB website, only seven were in favour of exploration and development. In addition, I counted 516 comments from the consultation sessions in the draft Consultation Report (Appendix A). Only eight of these comments were in support of oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf and two of those eight comments included caveats regarding environmental issues. If one were to read the draft report without reading the detailed consultation results, one would be led to believe pro-development comments were as frequent as cautionary comments. That is simply not the case. The final report should more accurately reflect the fact that the great preponderance of comments opposed oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf.

Oil spills:
The draft report repeatedly states that accidental oil spills and blowouts are “unlikely” or “rare”. This repetition serves to downplay the eventuality of spills.

One of the studies noted in the draft report (p. 57) estimated blowout frequency during exploration drilling at 1 in 267 wells, based on US data from 1980-2010. A second estimate (1 in 6,250), also mentioned on page 57, is said to be “based on more recent data”, but it covers 1988-2009 so it is not based on more recent data, just a shorter time period. Also, it is clear that the 1 in 267 wells estimate is based on approximately 12,000 US offshore exploration wells, but no information is provided about the number, type or location of wells included in the lower estimate.

The above-noted estimates are for blowouts only. Spills not constituting blowouts are much more common.

In the NL Offshore Area, using C-NLOPB data, the draft report (pp. 58-59) indicates there were 238 spills greater than one liter in sixteen years with a total spill volume (including smaller spills) of 469,144 liters and an average of 29,322 liters of oil spilled per year. Spills have occurred in every year. Clearly, spills are not “unlikely”. The statistical probability of catastrophic blowouts might be low, but minor spills are apparently inevitable.

Given the much longer history of oil and gas exploration and development off the east coast of Newfoundland, one would assume that the spill data is from that area, although that is not explicitly stated in the draft report. The cumulative effects over time of minor spills in the sensitive, semi-enclosed Gulf of St. Lawrence ecosystem would be much more serious than in the Atlantic Ocean and the effect of even one large spill or blowout could be devastating. The final report should avoid minimizing the serious risks posed by oil spills in the Gulf by removing the frequently repeated statements that they are unlikely.

Use of Dispersants:
In Table 2.2 (p. 19) it is stated that the topic of “use of oil dispersants and their potential effects” is addressed in Sections 3.1, 3.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, and 5.5, but in fact this issue is not addressed at all. I could find no information in the draft report about the use of dispersants, in particular Corexit, to clean up oil spills. Recent research from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes (UAA), Mexico, found that mixing Corexit with oil increased toxicity of the mixture up to 52-fold over the oil alone. [See http://phys.org/news/2012-11-gulf-mexico-clean-up-times-toxic.html and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/23/corexit-oil-spill-gulf_n_3134963.html , as well as the video link in the next paragraph. The final report should indicate whether dispersants are being used in the NL Offshore and, if so, should discuss the potential harm caused by dispersants and recommend alternative methods for dealing with oil spills.

Long-term Impact of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Blowout:
Table 5.1 on page 392 includes the following statement regarding the Gulf of Mexico blowout: “There is no clear picture yet concerning short-and-long-term effects on habitats and marine organisms.” This 37 minute video documents some of the short-term and long-term impacts.

Hydraulic Fracturing:
On pp. 429-430, the draft report mentions some research on the possible contamination of drinking water arising from hydraulic fracturing. The following article discusses a study which found contamination of drinking water with methane, ethane and propane near shale gas wells in Pennsylvania.

Fall 2012 Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development:
The Commissioner’s report is mentioned in passing on page 70. In addition, several references throughout the draft SEA update report are made to C-NLOPB’s commitment to follow up on one of the Commissioner’s recommendations by completing a review of the spill response capability of operators under its jurisdiction. The Commissioner’s report ought to be taken very seriously. All of the recommendations and C-NLOPB’s response to each should be set out more fully in the final SEA update report.

Use of Acronyms:
Acronyms are used throughout the draft report and it is difficult for the reader to always remember what they represent. All acronyms used and the full titles they represent should be listed at the front of the final report for reference. This is a minor point, but it would make the report easier to read.

Summary:
As stated on page 5 of the draft report, “The specific ‘strategic decision’ that the SEA Update is intended to inform is therefore whether to issue further exploration licenses in the Western NL Offshore Area, and if so, to identify any environmental components and issues which should be considered in taking these future decisions and actions.”

The draft report delineates the potential harmful effects of various components of oil and gas exploration in the Gulf, including seismic surveys, traffic, structures, lights, routine discharges, drill muds, other disturbances, well abandonment, and accidental spills. It discusses the risks to fish and fish habitat, plankton, shell fish, water birds, marine mammals, turtles, endangered species and species at risk, protected and sensitive areas, fisheries, and tourism, as well as noting important data gaps. The draft report also discusses the dynamic and complex Gulf ecosystem and the effects of factors such as climate change and aquatic invasive species, and includes statements such as “it is generally agreed that there has been a trophic shift over the last 30 years that may not yet be stabilized, and consequently, the ecosystem may have somewhat less of a buffering capacity to potential stressors” (page 399).

The logical conclusion, based on the information in the draft report, is that the possible benefits of additional exploration licences and, potentially, production licences are outweighed by the known risks.
 Unfortunately, the solid and well-documented information about risks and impacts is undermined by weak suggested mitigations, repeated assertions that the identified issues will be dealt with by project-specific environmental assessments, and a tendency to minimize potential impacts. Some examples of this tendency to minimize are noted in this letter.

I sincerely hope the final SEA Update report will recommend, and C-NLOPB will make, strategic decisions to: • cancel the current Call for Bids; • put a moratorium on issuing any further licences; and

• be extremely diligent, using a precautionary approach and rigorous project-specific environmental assessments, before approving any further activities under current licences in the Western Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

Sincerely,

Ellie Reddin

cc Steve Bonnell, AMEC Environment and Infrastructure
Greg Wilson, Manager of Environmental Land Management

By Ellie Reddin Commentary

The Guardian

May 17, 2013

(Published title: Our key concerns about oil development in the Gulf)

Members of Save Our Seas and Shores-PEI Chapter (SOSS PEI) were taken aback by the comments made by Premier Ghiz on CBC Radio after our petition signed by 1,212 Islanders was presented to the legislative assembly by Liberal MLA Buck Watts on April 30.

His response, that “there is no need for a moratorium on drilling in P.E.I. territorial waters because P.E.I. doesn’t have any oil,” gives us reason to believe he is not aware of the important role he could take to protect our Island and the Gulf of St. Lawrence from potential disaster.

By declaring a moratorium as our petition requests, the P.E.I. government would send a clear message to our neighbouring provinces and the federal government that P.E.I. will take the necessary time to consider the true value of the Gulf of St. Lawrence; and that P.E.I. is not willing to passively accept the risks inherent in projects presently being considered, such as Corridor Resources’ Old Harry Prospect.

As we have seen in the past, most notably with the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the impact of oil spills can be devastating for the environment and for the industries – fishing, aquaculture and tourism – that depend on a healthy marine ecosystem. In the case of the Old Harry Prospect, P.E.I. has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Premier Ghiz might be technically correct in saying that P.E.I. does not have oil in its territorial waters since legally territorial waters extend only to the low-water mark. But our petition refers to both oil and gas. And we know there has been a “significant discovery” of gas off East Point in an area considered part of P.E.I.’s “portion” of the gulf (for the purposes of federal-provincial co-management agreements on petroleum development). This site is under permanent lease to BP Canada Energy Company. BP obtained an exploration license in 1987. That licence has since expired and it does not appear that BP is likely to seek a new exploration license anytime soon. This raises the following question: Is the provincial government planning to sign a federal-provincial agreement for petroleum development in its portion of the Gulf so that at some future date the province could receive royalties if BP were to seek a new exploration licence?

In addition to requesting a moratorium in P.E.I. waters, our petition requested that the P.E.I. government work with the governments of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and the federal government to protect and manage the gulf ecosystem and to establish a permanent ban on exploration and drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

To date, only Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have implemented petroleum development agreements with the federal government and have consequently established offshore petroleum boards; in addition, only Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have petroleum development interests in the Atlantic Ocean. The Nova Scotia board has not been active in the gulf for more than 10 years. All five provinces share the risks, but only Newfoundland and Labrador will reap any benefits from current licences in the gulf.

Quebec has signed but not yet implemented a federal-provincial agreement. Quebec still has an ongoing moratorium in its part of the gulf and is currently conducting a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to help determine whether or not it should lift its moratorium. Recent information indicates that New Brunswick intends to sign and implement an agreement as soon as possible.

Instead of taking a far-sighted, environmentally responsible stand, it seems all five provinces are intent on rushing us headlong into folly and disaster. Since Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have offshore petroleum agreements and boards, it appears that all the provinces must have them, regardless of the consequences. We had hoped for better from our government. It is the governments, not the petroleum boards, who are ultimately responsible for the fate of the gulf.

Over the past two years, members of SOSS have met with Premier Ghiz and have sent him several letters with attached studies documenting the risks of oil and gas development in the gulf and discussing the shortcomings of the current oversight process. His statement that “we trust the systems that are in place now to ensure that the regulations and environmental procedures are being followed” indicates that he is not aware of the following facts:

• In his Fall 2012 report, Scott Vaughan, commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, Office of the Auditor General of Canada, clearly pointed out that Canada is not technically ready to face a major spill in the gulf.

• Environment Canada has determined that a major spill would have multi-provincial impacts and the David Suzuki Foundation has carried out oil spill simulations that indicate all five provinces surrounding the gulf could suffer from the impacts of a spill.

• Costs to British Petroleum associated with the Deep Water Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico are estimated at more than $40 billion. In Canada, however, liability for costs resulting from a major spill or blowout in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is limited to $30 million. Taxpayers would be responsible for all costs above $30 million.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board is currently updating its Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and the P.E.I. government has a representative on the Working Group for the SEA. This leads to the following questions: What policy position has that representative been instructed to take? Are P.E.I.’s interests, including the interests of Islanders who make their livings from fishing, tourism and aquaculture, the interests of the Mi’kmaq First Nation and the interests of future generations, being adequately considered during the SEA process?

If oil development is allowed to continue in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and a major oil spill or blowout occurs, how will all those who lose their livelihoods be compensated?

What consideration is being given to the effects of seismic testing and drilling on blue whales, dolphins, leatherback turtles, seabirds, fish and other marine wildlife in the gulf?

We have respectively requested that the government of P.E.I. provide answers to these questions.

Ellie Reddin co-ordinates the P.E.I. Chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores
(saveourseasandshores.ca)

Quebec | Save Our Seas and Shores

PRESS RELEASE
Montréal, January 19 2016

Against all odds, the Canada – Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (the Board), with the approval of both federal and Newfoundland Natural Resources ministers (James Carr and Siobhan Coady), extended Corridor Resources’ exploration license EL1105 on the Old Harry site for an extra year, a license that was set to expire last Friday January 15. This favour was granted without even requiring the mandatory one million dollars drilling deposit to obtain an extension. It is the third time in four years that Corridor obtains such a special privilege, a situation that is strongly denounced by the St. Lawrence Coalition.

The Board justifies this exploration license extension by saying it is necessary in order to hold public as well as First Nations consultations. Yet, ex-Environment Minister Peter Kent had already asked the Board in August 2011, over four years ago, to hold such “extensive public consultations”. The Board did set up an inter-provincial consultation in September 2011, to be under the direction of Commissioner Bernard Richard, but it was canceled in February 2012 by the Board, without justification, a few days before it officially started.

Danielle Giroux, president of Attention FragÎles and Sylvain Archambault, biologist (SNAP Québec) and spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition.

“The required consultations have still not been held. And now the Board dares to say that the extension is needed to perform consultations that they have been pushing forward for the last four years. This is disrespectful to all the citizens, scientists, fishermen, First Nations, who, for many years, have had deep concerns about the dangers of such offshore drillings” says Sylvain Archambault, biologist (SNAP Québec) and spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition.

In the Magdalen Islands, people are also distressed with this news: “The Corridor Resources drilling project, a mere 80 km from the archipelago, stirs up major concerns with numerous citizens and organizations on the islands. During the past few years, Magdalen Islanders have voiced regularly their opposition to the drilling project and their fears over the impacts of opening the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the oil industry” emphasizes Danielle Giroux, president of Attention FragÎles.

“Corridor Resources is a junior company with no offshore experience and limited financial means. Even if the firm struggles to fulfill its license obligations and survives from extension to extension since 2008, it still holds two licenses on the Quebec portion of Old Harry, licenses currently under moratorium. Why would Quebec take enormous risks by lifting its moratorium and associating itself with a junior company struggling to keep its license in Newfoundland?” asks Christian Simard of Nature Québec.

“The Gulf of St. Lawrence is host to great biological diversity and its durable fishing and tourism industries should be encouraged” says Jean-Patrick Toussaint, Science Project Manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. “For many years, numerous groups, citizens and scientists, have asked the federal minister of Natural Resources to work in a concerted manner with the five Gulf provinces to put in place a true integrated management of the Gulf. As a matter of fact, the federal government has recently committed to better protect Canada’s marine areas, including the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The federal government should invite the provinces to work together for better protection of the Gulf, rather than giving a free-pass to Corridor Resources” concludes Mr Toussaint.
– 30 –

The St. Lawrence Coalition is composed of 85 organizations and associations, including First Nations, and over 5000 individuals from various economic sectors and the 5 coastal provinces. Members of the Coalition are calling for a moratorium on exploration and exploitation of oil and gas across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The St. Lawrence Coalition is overseen by a steering committee composed of Attention FragÎles, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS Québec) and Nature Québec.

Please download the St. Lawrence Coalition report on oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence “Gulf 101”

CTVNews.ca Staff
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 1:06PM EST

Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke says he considers Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq people to be his “neighbours,” and that they’ve inspired him to support a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

“You know, I have a place up in Nova Scotia,” Hawke said CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday. “There is a Mi’kmaq (reserve) right near my house.”

Hawke, who is currently on tour promoting his new book “Rules for a Knight,” said the nearby First Nations group reached out to ask him to support their cause.

“They contacted me and made me aware of what was happening in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and what they’re doing to protect it,” he said.

Along with other environmental groups, the Mi’kmaq are calling for a 12-year moratorium on drilling in the area.

They say the drilling could harm the fragile ecosystem and their traditional lands, and want a thorough environmental assessment before any operations continue.

Hawke joined the Mi’kmaq for a traditional water ceremony last month to honour the community’s relationship with their environment.

“You know, they’re an impressive group of people,” Hawke said. “I really like how they’re using their indigenous rights to help us all.”

Hawke owns a property in St. George’s Bay, N.S., often spends time there during the summer.

In October, he told The Canadian Press that the area is “an absolutely magical place.”

Hawke told Canada AM that he feels it’s important to protect the gulf not only for himself and the Mi’kmaq currently living there, but for future generations.

“I really wanted my kids to see me (advocating with the Mi’kmaq) because that piece of property, with any luck, will be theirs’,” he said. “And the legacy of taking care of that land and that water will fall to them.”

Beyond environmental stewardship, Hawke also recently offered his children life lessons in the form of a new book.

In “Rules for a Knight,” the author and actor lists a series of traits all good knights – or good people – should possess.

Hawke says he drew upon his own life experience and family lessons to come up with the complete list of 20 rules, which span from lessons on humility to ruminations on solitude, friendship, and death.

Each chapter opens with an illustration of a bird, drawn by his wife, Ryan Shawhughes.

Hawke said the idea for the book originally sprang from a conversation with his Shawhughes about the most important rules in their home. The concept evolved into “Rules for a princess,” which was dedicated to his eldest daughter. Then, Hawke adjusted the title to fit his son’s interests.

“It slowly just grew in the telling until finally, this year, my oldest is graduating and we just decided to publish it,” he said.

Hawke said his wife and children influenced the book so much that, in some ways, he doesn’t feel right taking all the credit.

“I feel much more like the editor than an author,” he said.

Source: CTV Canada AM

[Note: Independent media video idea coverage of the October 26th press conference in Paq’tnkek is also available. Watch excerpts from all speakers here, and Save Our Seas and Shores spokesperson’s entire commentary here. Credit: Ruby Tree Films]

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.

From left, Troy Jerome, Ethan Hawke, Listuguj Chief Scott Martin and Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper take part in water ceremony Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

L to R Mary Gorman (Save Our Seas and Shores); Listuguj Chief Scott Martin; Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper; actor Ethan Hawke and Troy Jerome executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

Ethan Hawke took part in a water ceremony in Paqtnkek along the shores of Pomquet Harbour Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

Source: Kukuwes.com

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

Actor Ethan Hawke, right, attends the Mi’kmaq community’s water ceremony on the shores of Pomquet Harbour to support the aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, near Antigonish, N.S.
(Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

By: Keith Doucette

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — The Canadian Press

Published Monday, Oct. 26, 2015 5:03PM EDT

Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke has added his star power to efforts by environmentalists and a Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq community who are trying to muster support for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hawke was the special guest of the Mi’kmaq community’s annual water ceremony held Monday in Pomquet Harbour near Antigonish.

Hawke, who owns land in nearby St. George’s Bay, was asked to attend the event in support of his neighbours.

The actor said he wanted to stand up for “an absolutely magical place” where he has lived for parts of the summer for the past 15 years.

“I’m sure some people are wondering what I’m doing here,” said Hawke. “I’m largely here as your neighbour and your friend and a friend to this area.”

Hawke said the native community members have proven to be trustworthy stewards of the land and it was an honour to take part in their event.

The ceremony 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.

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.”

The Mi’kmaq and environmental groups want a 12-year moratorium on any potential drilling in the gulf. They say it will take that long to complete a proper and comprehensive environmental assessment of a bio-diverse area of the ocean.

“While Canada’s thinking about drilling out there . . . we are telling them that they can’t do it without talking to the Mi’kmaq,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

Jerome said with a new Liberal government about to take power in Ottawa Canadians need to ask their MPs what they are doing about the gulf.

“Ethan Hawke is here doing something about the gulf, what are you (MPs) doing about the gulf?” he said.

Jerome told a news conference that Atlantic petroleum boards are operating at pace where Nova Scotians don’t feel they have a say about oil drilling.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the largest marine breeding regions in Canada with more than 2,000 marine species.

The area is home to endangered whales and is also home to a lucrative lobster fishery.

Source: Globe and Mail

Additional Canadian Press coverage appeared in the PEI Guardian

By: Ben Cousins The Canadian Press

Published on Sun Oct 25 2015

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke will be in northern Nova Scotia Monday to help with the Mi’kmaq community’s water ceremony and support the aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish, was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours.

“We trying to show the world that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is not available for oil exploration,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. “It’s a race to get oil as opposed to a race protect the environment.”

“When you look at the state of the environment and climate change, I think we should be racing to protect the land where we can.”

The water ceremony is held in each season to give offerings and honour the Mi’kmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land.

For two years now, the group has been saying there should be a 12-year moratorium to give time to conduct a proper study by a third-party that looks at the Gulf as a whole ecosystem.

Jerome says up until now, studies have only been done by individual provinces.

“The oil is not going to know which side of the border to stop its spill at,” he said. “It’s going to go all over the place.”

“Our salmon do not follow a provincial boundary, they go right through the channel.”

Jerome says officials told him when you combine the provincial studies together, they achieve a comprehensive study for the area.

“For us, that flies in the face of good science.”

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the largest marine breeding regions in Canada with more than 2,000 marine species choosing to spawn, nurse and migrate there year round.

It is also home to endangered whales and hosts some of the largest lobster production in the world.

The Mi’kmaq say the area is a sensitive ecosystem due to its winter ice cover, high winds and counter clockwise currents that only flush into the Atlantic once a year.

Jerome says Atlantic petroleum boards are operating at pace where Nova Scotians don’t feel they have a say about oil drilling.

He says the tourism and fishing industries in the area are obviously concerned, but outside of that, not a whole lot of people really know about what’s going on.

“We want to get people in the Atlantic to become more aware that these kinds of drilling programs are proposed in their water.”

The venue for the water ceremony in Antigonish is also of historical significance.

The site was the location for the events that led to the Marshall Decision.

In 1993, Donald Marshall Jr., a member of the Membertou First Nation, was stopped for fishing in Antigonish County, N.S., for fishing eels without a license.

He claimed he was allowed to catch and sell fish by virtue of a treaty signed with the British Crown.

Six years later, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed Donald Marshall Jr. had a treaty right to catch and sell fish, thus changing the way First Nations people could hunt and catch in Canada.

Source: Metronews.ca

Press Release, July 21/2015

In a powerful show of unity, First Nation communities and fishing industry representatives call on the Federal Ministers of Natural Resources, Environment, and Fisheries to suspend petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence until it can determine that these activities would pose no risk to commercial fisheries.

The Gulf’s Aboriginal Communities, Harvester, and Processor Associations, call on the federal government to hear public concerns and evaluate the risks of drilling in a semi- enclosed body of water that supports hundreds of coastal communities in 5 provinces.

“The government is ignoring that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is partially landlocked and one of the most sensitive and productive marine breeding regions in Canada with over 2,200 marine species that spawn, nurse and migrate year around. Due to the sensitive nature of the St. Lawrence it unlikely that a billion dollar fishing industry could withstand oil and gas development,” says Marilyn Clark, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association.  Although Strategic Environmental assessment (SEA) have been undertaken by both Newfoundland and Quebec, these inadequate assessments failed to look at the Gulf as a whole, she said.

“We know there is very little capacity to respond to an oil spill due to high winds and counter clockwise currents that only empty into the Atlantic once a year, leaving NS, NB, PEI, QC and NL coastlines vulnerable to contamination. Despite this, the environmental assessment process has been downgraded to allow companies to drill exploratory wells without consulting people depending on these waters for their livelihoods,” states fisherman Leonard Leblanc of Cheticamp, Nova Scotia.

Spill simulations undertaken by the Rimouski Institute of Ocean Science demonstrate that fish and plankton critical to the Gulf’s food chain would have to migrate through oil at both the Laurentian Channel and Straight of Belle Isle, which are entry and exit regions critical to the Gulf’s entire eco-system.

Even Corridor Resources, who wants to drill at Old Harry, acknowledge in their EA report that: “There are environmental and technological constraints to response and cleanup. High sea states and visibility are examples of typical environmental constraints, while technological constraints include pumping capacity of oil recovery devices and effectiveness of chemical dispersants.” Furthermore, several months of ice coverage in the winter escalate these important limitations.

Nearly two years ago, First Nations formed the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmaq Alliance and signed an agreement to protect the Gulf from Oil and Gas Development. They have recently renewed this commitment and reiterated their request for a 12 year Moratorium.

To date, they have yet to be consulted on the Old Harry project.

“Quebec’s Environment Assessment (SEA) detailed many gaps in knowledge and understanding of the Gulf of St Lawrence.  We have existing Aboriginal rights and constitutionally protected Treaty Rights as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada. We will do all that is necessary to protect our way of life and prevent any exploratory plan to be carried out in the Gulf,” explains Troy Jerome, Executive Director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

In the event of a spill, Canadian law demands a company to have a measly 1 billion dollars of compensation monies. This is deeply inadequate when you consider that Gulf fisheries are worth more than one billion each year. Investments in boats, licenses, and fish plants dependent on renewable resources for their operations are worth far more than these proposed damages. The BP Macondo disaster cost BP over $40 billion dollars so far and could cost the company over $60billion due to ongoing litigation.

“How do you quantify damages to living species that have been around for thousands of years if you are not even taking into account ecological value?” asks Clark. “In short, the Gulf of St. Lawrence fishing industry will accept no less than a full, independent expert review panel, acting in the 5 provinces, as is warranted by public concerns in section 38 (2) b of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act”, she concludes.

For further information contact:

Marilyn Clark 902.774.0006 (French/English)
Director Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association

Troy Jerome 506.759.2000 (French/English) Executive Director

Nutewistoq, Mi’gmawei, Mawiomi Secretariat

Leonard LeBlanc 902-302-0794 (French/English)
Gulf Nova Scotia Fishermen’s Coalition

Ian MacPherson 902-566-4050 (English)
PEI Fishermen’s Association

Jean-Pierre Couillard 418-269-7701 (French)
Association des Capitaines Propriétaire de la Gaspésie

July 21, 2015

by Danielle Rochette

APTN National News

Eighteen organizations spread out over four provinces are banding together and calling on the federal government to stop any kind of oil exploration work in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The group sent a letter Tuesday to Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea and Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq. [See press release here]

“As fisheries representatives active in all parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we are writing to inform you that we will oppose any petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without prior consultation and a thorough understanding of the impacts to our seafood industry,” the letter states.

It’s not clear who penned the letter.

The Nutewistoq M’igmawei Mawiomi Secretariat is one of the organizations that is part of the coalition.

The group pointed out that the process that will allow companies to explore for oil, will also allow them to circumvent the environmental or consultation process.

“Given that exploratory drilling has been downgraded to a simple ‘screening exercise,’ which does not necessitate consultation with existing users, we demand that the Old Harry prospect be put to a full review panel as is warranted by public concern under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act” the letter states.

A Mi’kmaq group out of Quebec is already lobbying the Quebec government to put in place a 12-year moratorium on exploration work in the Gulf. [See APTN story here: Nations band together to fight future oil exploration in Gulf of Saint Lawrence]

There is also a coalition made up of environmental groups and First Nation communities fighting any kind of oil work. They’re concerned that thousands of fisheries and tourism jobs will be at stake if there is a spill in the Gulf.

“We would also like to remind the federal government that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a common body of water and that spills occurring in one area cannot be contained by provincial delineations,” they say in the letter.

The Gulf waters touch five provinces, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Source: Groups band together to fight oil exploration on Gulf of St. Lawrence – APTN National news

Blue Whale photo: Thomas Doniol-Valcroze

Authors: Véronique Lesage, Thomas Doniol-Valcroze

Feeding is central to an animal’s life history and ecology. Large predators do not feed continuously but rather in bouts of intense activity separated by periods of searching, resting or socializing. Moreover, feeding does not occur randomly in space, as animals select precise areas with characteristics of prey density, accessibility and predictability that maximize their chances of meeting their energy requirements. Every summer, blue whales from the endangered North Atlantic population come to the St Lawrence River estuary to feed on dense aggregations of euphausiids. Documenting the timing and location of foraging success is therefore of utmost importance to assess and monitor habitat quality on this feeding ground.

In marine systems, however, feeding happens mostly under the surface and is rarely observable directly. In this study, we have used data-loggers to record, at every second, the depth and swimming speed of 10 blue whales during their dives in the St Lawrence estuary. By detecting the rapid speed changes that are characteristic of lunging behaviour and mouth opening, we have been able to pinpoint the exact moment, depth and location of each feeding attempt. With this information, we have shown that blue whales feed at all times of the diurnal cycle and intensify their feeding activity at night when prey are accessible at shallow depths. This is in contrast to previous assumptions in the literature that blue whales did not feed at night.

Using radio-telemetry, we have also been able to describe the habitats where blue whales concentrated their feeding effort, and how different habitats were used at different phases of the tidal cycle (e.g., feeding at the shelf edge when flood tidal currents were concentrating euphausiids against the steep slopes).

Moreover, we have shown that St Lawrence blue whales used optimal strategies to adapt their dive times and feeding effort to the depth of their prey. In particular, feeding rates were consistently higher when blue whales performed short feeding dives at shallow depths. These results suggest that diving predators may judge habitat quality in terms of prey accessibility at shallow depths rather than selecting habitat solely based on prey density or abundance.

Taken together, these strategies may allow blue whales to optimize a short seasonal window of feeding opportunity and maximize resource acquisition. Indeed, feeding rates diminished over the summer feeding season, and were negatively correlated with the time each animal spent in a social pair, suggesting a trade-off between feeding and socializing with the approach of the breeding season. Better understanding of the behaviour and feeding ecology of large whales can help predict their responses to environmental changes and anthropogenic pressures.

This project was conducted in collaboration with Robert Michaud and Janie Giard from the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals in Tadoussac, Quebec.

Excerpt from Department of Fisheries and Oceans Center of Expertise in Marine Mammalogy: Scientific Research Report 2009-2011

Highlights from the Oil & Gas Protest held in Gesgapegiag on Oct. 22, 2011. Over 200 supporters were on hand to send a message to the Governments and the Industry on plans for Off-Shore Oil drilling in Gespe’gewa’gi.

In the News | Save Our Seas and Shores

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.

Ellie Reddin Save Our Seas and Shores-P.E.I. Chapter

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.

Mary Gorman, co-founder and spokesperson, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. (Credit: https://twitter.com/gorman_mary)

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.

From left, Troy Jerome, Ethan Hawke, Listuguj Chief Scott Martin and Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper take part in water ceremony Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

L to R Mary Gorman (Save Our Seas and Shores); Listuguj Chief Scott Martin; Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper; actor Ethan Hawke and Troy Jerome executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

Ethan Hawke took part in a water ceremony in Paqtnkek along the shores of Pomquet Harbour Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

Source: Kukuwes.com

Listuguj First Nation Chief Scott Martin (left), Roseann Martin of Listuguj First Nation, Bobby Pictou of Chapel Island First Nation and Academy Award nominated actor Ethan Hawke participate in a traditional water ceremony Monday afternoon in Afton. (PHOTO: Emily Hiltz)

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

Mi’kmaq elders Robert Pictou and Roseanne Martin perform a traditional water ceremony on Monday afternoon in Antigonish County. They are joined by actor Ethan Hawke. (AARON BESWICK / Truro Bureau)

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, CBC News Posted: Oct 23, 2015

(Leonard Adam/Getty Images)

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

The 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.

Keith Stewart, climate & energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. Credit: https://twitter.com/climatekeith

“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.

Mary Gorman, co-founder and spokesperson, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. (Credit: https://twitter.com/gorman_mary)

“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.

Media | Save Our Seas and Shores

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.

Ellie Reddin Save Our Seas and Shores-P.E.I. Chapter

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.

Mary Gorman, co-founder and spokesperson, Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition. (Credit: https://twitter.com/gorman_mary)

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.

From left, Troy Jerome, Ethan Hawke, Listuguj Chief Scott Martin and Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper take part in water ceremony Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

L to R Mary Gorman (Save Our Seas and Shores); Listuguj Chief Scott Martin; Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper; actor Ethan Hawke and Troy Jerome executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

Ethan Hawke took part in a water ceremony in Paqtnkek along the shores of Pomquet Harbour Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

Source: Kukuwes.com

Listuguj First Nation Chief Scott Martin (left), Roseann Martin of Listuguj First Nation, Bobby Pictou of Chapel Island First Nation and Academy Award nominated actor Ethan Hawke participate in a traditional water ceremony Monday afternoon in Afton. (PHOTO: Emily Hiltz)

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

Hawke says the concerns and wishes of local First Nations groups must be respected

CBC News Posted: Oct 26, 2015 12:01 PM AT

Last Updated: Oct 27, 2015 7:30 PM AT

Four-time Academy Award nominee and part-time Nova Scotia resident Ethan Hawke spoke out Monday about the need to protect the “beautiful water” of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas exploration.

Hawke was a special guest of an event in Afton in Nova Scotia’s Antigonish County, organized by the leadership of four First Nations groups from Nova Scotia and Quebec: the Paqtnkek, Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg First Nations.

The event included a water ceremony, followed by a press conference.

Hakwe was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours. He’s owned property in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish for 15 years and has been coming to the province for two decades.

“My family settled in Texas at the turn of the last century and if you’ve seen the water outside Galveston, you would weep. You would really weep,” said Hawke.

Chief PJ Prosper of Paq’tnkek and Ethan Hawke (Credit: CBC)

‘I trust their judgment’

He says the concerns and wishes of local First Nations groups must be respected.

“They’ve earned that right, not just by inhabiting these lands for thousands of years, but for the way they’ve cared for that land and the water,” said Hawke.

“I trust their judgment for what is best for this area, for the Earth, the land the people and the water.”

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 for years to raise awareness and Hawke’s name brings new attention to their concerns.

Save Our Seas and Shores members Mark Butler (L) and Ron Kelly (R) (Credit: Stephen Puddicombe CBC)

“Water, it affects everybody. It doesn’t just affect First Nations people,” said Jerome.

Hawke agreed his name can help lend some star power to the cause.

“The one thing I can do as the one actor in the community is to blab a little bit and to sit next to really intelligent, dedicated people who are working extremely hard to protect this beautiful water,” he said.

Ethan Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish, is lending his star power to a group of Mi’kmaq protesters who are calling for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (Stephen Puddicombe/CBC)

‘Now it’s their time to step up’

The Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition is calling for a 12-year exploration moratorium, which Jerome says is needed so the government can conduct a comprehensive review and environmental assessment.

The group says the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board is considering plans for drilling at a site known as Old Harry, which is located midway between Quebec’s Magdalen Islands and Cape Anguille in western Newfoundland.​

Jerome hopes the election of the federal Liberals will mean more co-operation from government, which is a promise Liberal candidates were making at doorsteps, he says.

“This will be one of the first tests that they will be challenged with because of the fact we’ve been trying to stop this for many years now and now that they’re the new government, now it’s their time to step up to the plate,” said Jerome.

He hopes the news coverage from Monday’s event will encourage Canadians to contact their MPs to talk about drilling.

Source: CBC 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

Mi’kmaq elders Robert Pictou and Roseanne Martin perform a traditional water ceremony on Monday afternoon in Antigonish County. They are joined by actor Ethan Hawke. (AARON BESWICK / Truro Bureau)

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, CBC News Posted: Oct 23, 2015

(Leonard Adam/Getty Images)

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

The 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

Oil Spills | Save Our Seas and Shores

Lobster fisherman wary of Gulf of St. Lawrence oil drilling FRAM DINSHAW STAFF REPORTER Published May 10, 2016 – 6:25pm

Last Updated May 11, 2016 – 8:55am

As lobster season gets underway Tuesday in Cape Breton, a top local fisherman is warning that oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence could wreak havoc on local marine life.

“It could ruin our industry,” said Jordan MacDougall, president of the Inverness South Fisherman’s Association.

He warned that any oil spill would settle on the seabed — prime lobster habitat — and devastate their populations.

“You wouldn’t be able to sell your product and it would probably give Canada a negative name for that product from other areas,” said MacDougall.

His comments come just four months after regulators granted a one-year extension on an oil exploration licence for Corridor Resources Inc. at the Old Harry site off the western coast of Newfoundland, in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

But some warn that drilling for oil at Old Harry may detonate a ticking time bomb.

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, a 10,000-barrel oil spill at Old Harry in winter would hit the coasts of Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Les Iles de-la-Madeleine, which belong to Quebec. Simulations at other times of year also predict oil hitting the west and southern coastline of Newfoundland.

The areas that would be worst-affected by any spill would likely vary between seasons, but the Gulf of Saint Lawrence’s prevailing current runs anti-clockwise, which would push oil away from the open Atlantic and potentially endanger all five provinces bordering it.

“The Gulf of Saint Lawrence should be off-limits for drilling because it’s an extremely valuable marine area in terms of fisheries — lobster, tuna, snow crab, as well as herring,” said federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

She also said the gulf was home to several species of endangered whales. The Species at Risk Public Registry lists blue whales as living in the gulf. The Alternative Journal also listed belugas as endangered in late 2014 after their numbers in the Saint Lawrence estuary and gulf dropped below 1,000.

“It’s really critical that we have protection of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence,” said May.

But she said that needed environmental protections were stripped away by the former Conservative government when it passed C-38 in 2012, an omnibus bill that reduced protections for Canadian fisheries and fish habitats. Protection is now limited to only commercial, recreational or First Nations fisheries. Furthermore, the new law forbids only the killing of fish or the permanent altering of their habitats.

C-38 also included a new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, replacing a stricter law that was passed in 1992, according to the Environmental Law Centre (ELC).

The 2012 act removed the requirement for a federal environmental assessment for all development projects. Even in cases when a project is designated by regulation, C-38 allows the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to determine that an assessment is not required.

Secondly, the federal government may decide not to conduct its own environmental assessment of a designated project on the basis that the project is being assessed provincially, which the ELC maintains is a delegation of federal power and jurisdiction to the provinces.

This leaves provincial agencies such as the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum board free to conduct their own assessments without referring to the federal cabinet, according to May.

“The rest of Canada is not paying attention to these smaller agencies that got power to do environmental assessments under Harper,” said May, who added that C-38 had to be repealed by the present Liberal government.

May also criticized the renewal of Corridor Resources Inc.’s oil exploration licence for free in January.

“It’s the fourth year they’ve gotten it for free,” said May.

However, the CNLOPB said that environmental protection was a top priority when reviewing applications for oil drilling in areas like Old Harry.

“The Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board delivers world-class regulatory oversight with safety and environmental protection as our top priorities.

“A comprehensive strategic environmental assessment update was completed for the Western Newfoundland Offshore Area in 2014, and a project-specific environmental assessment would also be required prior to authorization of a drilling program under the board’s jurisdiction,” said board spokesman Sean Kelly in an email.

He added that other obligations had to be met regarding installations, training and competency, emergency response plans, financial capacity and the industrial benefits of a proposed program.

The Herald tried contacting both Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Corridor Resources Inc.’s CEO Steve Moran for more information but was unable to reach them by late Tuesday afternoon.

Source: Chronicle Herald  (Links added – not contained in original article.)

January 25, 2016

Hon. James Gordon Carr Minister of Natural Resources

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E4

Hon. Siobhan Coady Minister of Natural Resources PO Box 8700

St. John’s NL A1B 4J6

Dear Ministers:

Re: Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Gulf of St. Lawrence

I am writing of behalf of the Prince Edward Island chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS PEI). SOSS is a coalition of fishing organizations, environmental and tourism groups, coastal landowners, First Nations organizations, and individuals who are concerned that the ecologically rich and diverse Gulf of St. Lawrence, home to over 4,000 marine species, is particularly sensitive to any disturbance caused by seismic surveys, exploration and drilling for oil and gas.

As you know, for the third time in the past four years, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (the NL Board) has granted a one-year extension to Corridor Resources exploration licence on the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, located mid-way between the Magdalen Islands and the west coast of Newfoundland. Citing regulatory factors as its reason, the NL Board also waived, for the third time in four years, the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension. The “regulatory factors” the NL Board referred to is the requirement for public and Aboriginal consultations which the Board must hold as part of the environmental assessment for this project.

In August 2011, the NL Board contracted with former New Brunswick Ombudsman Bernard Richard to carry out an independent review of the Old Harry project, then in February 2012 terminated his contract, without justification, before any public consultations were held. Since then, the NL Board has dragged its heels despite numerous inquiries asking when and how these consultations will be carried out. Even now, the NL Board in its January 15, 2016 news release, says it will announce plans for consultations with Aboriginal groups and the public “at a later date”, not sometime soon. 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 NL Board. In 2012, the Board contracted with AMEC Environment and Infrastructure to update the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Newfoundland portion of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 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.” During the time the SEA was being conducted, the NL Board issued a call for bids for licences, including 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, and the complex and deteriorating state of the Gulf. The lack of social acceptability was apparent from the results of the public consultations held in the five Gulf provinces. Of 597 written submissions and verbal comments, 582 expressed concerns regarding continued petroleum exploration in the Gulf. The logical conclusion, based on the findings in the report, would have been that the known risks outweigh the potential benefits. Instead of the normal procedure in which the authors of a report write the conclusions, the NL Board made the bizarre decision to write the conclusions itself. (This fact is no longer obvious in the final report on the Board’s website, perhaps due to criticism the Board received for writing its own conclusions.) Predictably, the NL Board concluded that “petroleum exploration activities generally can be undertaken in the Western NL area using the mitigation measures identified in the document.”

In addition, the Board concluded that suggestions that petroleum exploration activities in the Gulf should cease were policy decisions not within its mandate, despite the fact that the purpose of the report was, as noted above, to assist the Board in deciding whether to continue offering exploration rights in the NL portion of the Gulf.

As you know, to date 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 after a public review panel responded to public and Aboriginal concerns 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 are to facilitate the exploration and development of hydrocarbon resources in the NL Offshore and to protect the environment and worker safety. As noted in the Wells Report of 2010, these are conflicting roles. Clearly, the NL Board shows by its actions and decisions that protecting the Gulf ecosystem is not a priority.

We believe that the federal and NL governments have abrogated their responsibilities to oversee the decisions of this appointed body. Decisions, including the recent free extension of Corridor Resources licence, appear to have been rubber-stamped by the federal and NL Ministers of Natural Resources. Only NL benefits from oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf, while the other four Gulf provinces share the risks. The protection of marine species and the rights of the First Nations, fishers, and other residents of the Gulf provinces to protect the Gulf ecosystem and pursue their livelihoods are being ignored.

In light of the failure of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to act in a responsible manner, SOSS PEI is calling on the federal and Newfoundland and Labrador governments to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to offshore oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Sincerely, Ellie Reddin

Past-Chair, Save Our Seas and Shores-PEI Chapter (SOSS PEI)

c. Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, MP Hon. Wayne Easter, MP Sean Casey, MP Robert Morrissey, MP Hon. H. Wade MacLauchlan, Premier of Prince Edward Island Hon. Robert Mitchell, Minister of Communities, Land and Environment Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Hon. Alan McIsaac, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries

Greg Wilson, Manager, Environmental Land Management

Defenders of the Gulf of St. Lawrence who live on Prince Edward Island are telling James Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, and his provincial counterpart in Newfoundland and Labrador Siobhan Coady that it is time to pull the plug on the C-NLOPB.

This action follows the publication of Ellie Reddin’s Jan 27th article in the Journal Pioneer and PEI’s The Guardian, which pointed out a series of irresponsible, biased decisions made by the C-NLOPB over the past several years, including their recent decision to provide Corridor Resources a third extension on their exploration license for the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In her followup letter to the Ministers, Reddin wrote: “Citing regulatory factors as its reason, the [C-NLOPB] also waived, for the third time in four years, the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension. The “regulatory factors” the Board referred to is the requirement for public and Aboriginal consultations which the Board must hold as part of the environmental assessment for this project.”

“Decisions, including the recent free extension of Corridor Resources licence, appear to have been rubber-stamped by the federal and NL Ministers of Natural Resources. Only NL benefits from oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf, while the other four Gulf provinces share the risks. The protection of marine species and the rights of the First Nations, fishers, and other residents of the Gulf provinces to protect the Gulf ecosystem and pursue their livelihoods are being ignored.”

In light of the failure of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to act in a responsible manner, SOSS PEI is calling on it’s members to write to the Ministers to demand that the federal and Newfoundland and Labrador governments to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to offshore oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

See SOSS PEI full letter to federal Minister James Carr, and NL Minister of Natural Resources Siobhan Coady here.

The Gulf needs your support. Add your voice to SOSS PEI’s by sending a short email message to the Ministers – here’s is a sample message you could copy and paste, or personalize as you wish:

Dear Ministers:

I am writing to express my support for the letter you recently received from SOSS PEI regarding the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. As outlined in the letter, the C-NLOPB has shown by its actions and decisions over the past several years that it is failing to carry out its responsibility to protect the Gulf environment. As Ministers responsible for the C-NLOPB, please act to remove the Board’s mandate pertaining to oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

(Your Name)
(Your home community and province)

Email addresses for the two Ministers are:
Minister.Ministre@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca and siobhancoady@gov.nl.ca

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.

The Canadian Press
Jan 15, 2016 2:05 pm EST

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Environmental activists who want a drilling moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence weren’t impressed Friday as regulators extended an oil exploration licence for the Old Harry site by another year.

Corridor Resources Inc. (TSX-CDH) of Halifax had until Friday to offer a $1 million deposit to extend the licence until next January.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board announced the province and Ottawa agreed to waive the fee. Federal and provincial Natural Resources ministers ratified the move “in consideration of regulatory factors that have resulted in … delays in drilling a validation well in the final year of (Corridor’s) nine-year licence term,” the board said in a news release.

Spokesman Sean Kelly said no one was available for further comment.

Corridor Resources President and CEO Steve Moran referred all questions to the offshore petroleum board.

“It’s awful,” said Sylvain Archambault of the St. Lawrence Coalition, one of several environmental and indigenous groups across Canada that have called for a drilling moratorium in the Gulf.

“This is the third time they’ve obtained such a free pass.”

In its news release, the offshore board said it will soon announce plans for consultations with aboriginal groups and the public on related environmental assessments. Such regulatory requirements must be complete before any drilling goes ahead, Kelly confirmed in an email.

The federal government has estimated the Gulf and surrounding areas potentially hold 39 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil.

Indigenous groups and environmental activists have urged a moratorium in the Gulf pending a scientific review of risks. They also want to see collective management strategies involving the five adjacent provinces — Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Drilling would be close to the shore of any province,” Archambault said Friday in an interview. The Old Harry site is about 80 kilometres west of Newfoundland. One theory is that it was named for a community on the nearby Magdalen Islands.

“Scientific spill scenarios clearly show that the west coast of Newfoundland would be impacted as well as Cape Breton and the Magdalen Islands,” Archambault said.

“In the Gulf there are fisheries worth over $1.5 billion. There’s tourism, communities living all around the Gulf. We really don’t want the same scenario that happened in the Gulf of Mexico to repeat itself here.”

The Deepwater Horizon explosion April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 rig workers. An estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil spewed into the water before engineers could cap the blown-out well 87 days later.

“And the Old Harry drilling site would be smack in the middle of the Laurentian Channel which is the highway used by all the migrating species — whales, salmon, cod,” Archambault said. “Anything happening there would be disastrous.”

Source: 680 News

CTVNews.ca Staff
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 1:06PM EST

Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke says he considers Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq people to be his “neighbours,” and that they’ve inspired him to support a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

“You know, I have a place up in Nova Scotia,” Hawke said CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday. “There is a Mi’kmaq (reserve) right near my house.”

Hawke, who is currently on tour promoting his new book “Rules for a Knight,” said the nearby First Nations group reached out to ask him to support their cause.

“They contacted me and made me aware of what was happening in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and what they’re doing to protect it,” he said.

Along with other environmental groups, the Mi’kmaq are calling for a 12-year moratorium on drilling in the area.

They say the drilling could harm the fragile ecosystem and their traditional lands, and want a thorough environmental assessment before any operations continue.

Hawke joined the Mi’kmaq for a traditional water ceremony last month to honour the community’s relationship with their environment.

“You know, they’re an impressive group of people,” Hawke said. “I really like how they’re using their indigenous rights to help us all.”

Hawke owns a property in St. George’s Bay, N.S., often spends time there during the summer.

In October, he told The Canadian Press that the area is “an absolutely magical place.”

Hawke told Canada AM that he feels it’s important to protect the gulf not only for himself and the Mi’kmaq currently living there, but for future generations.

“I really wanted my kids to see me (advocating with the Mi’kmaq) because that piece of property, with any luck, will be theirs’,” he said. “And the legacy of taking care of that land and that water will fall to them.”

Beyond environmental stewardship, Hawke also recently offered his children life lessons in the form of a new book.

In “Rules for a Knight,” the author and actor lists a series of traits all good knights – or good people – should possess.

Hawke says he drew upon his own life experience and family lessons to come up with the complete list of 20 rules, which span from lessons on humility to ruminations on solitude, friendship, and death.

Each chapter opens with an illustration of a bird, drawn by his wife, Ryan Shawhughes.

Hawke said the idea for the book originally sprang from a conversation with his Shawhughes about the most important rules in their home. The concept evolved into “Rules for a princess,” which was dedicated to his eldest daughter. Then, Hawke adjusted the title to fit his son’s interests.

“It slowly just grew in the telling until finally, this year, my oldest is graduating and we just decided to publish it,” he said.

Hawke said his wife and children influenced the book so much that, in some ways, he doesn’t feel right taking all the credit.

“I feel much more like the editor than an author,” he said.

Source: CTV Canada AM

[Note: Independent media video idea coverage of the October 26th press conference in Paq’tnkek is also available. Watch excerpts from all speakers here, and Save Our Seas and Shores spokesperson’s entire commentary here. Credit: Ruby Tree Films]

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.

From left, Troy Jerome, Ethan Hawke, Listuguj Chief Scott Martin and Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper take part in water ceremony Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

L to R Mary Gorman (Save Our Seas and Shores); Listuguj Chief Scott Martin; Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper; actor Ethan Hawke and Troy Jerome executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

Ethan Hawke took part in a water ceremony in Paqtnkek along the shores of Pomquet Harbour Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

Source: Kukuwes.com

The Gulf of St. Lawrence as seen from space. “Highly significant ecological areas such the Gulf should be top on our list to declare off-limits, whether oil is at $40 or $400 a barrel,” writes Gretchen Fitzgerald of the Sierra Club. (NASA)

GRETCHEN FITZGERALD Chronicle Herald

November 16, 2015

Your Nov. 7 Weekend Focus: “Oil, Water and Old Harry” got it wrong when it implied that oil prices are the most important obstacle to oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The implication of this slant is that if oil prices rise, we will see development go ahead. The article also got it wrong when it implied that the threat of one oil well was insignificant to the Gulf’s ecology and economy. Finally, the article also ignored the fact that a single well, as damaging as it could be, is merely the toehold for future development, and that in the context of global climate change, it is imperative we shift away from these dangerous fossil fuel projects.

Groups have been fighting oil and gas development in the Gulf long before oil prices dipped. As the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore petroleum board acknowledged in 2010, they had never received such an intense public response to a project before they announced they were considering exploration at Old Harry in the middle of the Gulf.

This is because the Gulf is a unique place that is particularly vulnerable to oil development — and many people, from fishermen to scientists to national environmental groups such as Sierra Club feel strongly about this. This opposition will outlast the vagaries of oil price fluctuations.

Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director, Atlantic Canada chapter, Sierra Club Canada (Photo: Flickr)

Granted, because there has been no arm’s-length, ecosystem-wide assessment for oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it is difficult to figure out what the whole story is.

Although a single ecosystem, parts of Gulf waters are considered jurisdiction of five eastern provinces and the federal government. The Gulf is also considered traditional territory for indigenous communities that have fished and lived on its shores for millennia. Our previous federal government’s lack of ability or willingness to play a co-ordinating role to oversee complex, inter-jurisdictional issues like the Gulf has added to the confusion.

As I write, consultations are underway in Quebec to assess the impacts of developing provincial petroleum resources, and mirror legislation has been passed provincially and introduced federally to create a management scheme similar to our offshore Accord Act — potentially opening up the Quebec portion of the Gulf to development.

Similarly, consultations are underway in Newfoundland to assess fracking, and the area that has experienced the most intense interest from fracking companies is located in the Gulf, off the West Coast of Newfoundland.

As we witnessed when the BP spill spewed billions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, quickly followed by a toxic brew of dispersant chemicals designed to hide the oil under the surface (chemicals that oil companies can now be permitted to use in Canada), an exploratory well can have devastating impacts.

Only one-quarter of the three billion barrels of crude spilled in the BP disaster is accounted for, and tar balls still wash up on beaches. Mangroves that are nurseries for sea life — similar to the salt marshes in our Gulf of St. Lawrence —have been damaged or destroyed. Dolphins have been poisoned by the oil, and marine mammal strandings have spiked since the spill.

Oil and chemical traces are found in fish and shellfish in the Gulf of Mexico, with unknown consequences for their development and the food chain. Imagine the impact of a similar spill on the marine mammals, sea turtles and fish that now live in our Gulf — which is six times smaller in size than the Gulf of Mexico.

As the BP spill illustrated, one exploratory well is certainly enough to damage our Gulf and the communities it supports. But one well would probably lead to others, increasing the risk with each additional project.

In the weeks leading up to UN negotiations on climate change in Paris, we need to acknowledge that some oil will need to be left in the ground to secure our future. Highly significant ecological areas such the Gulf should be top on our list to declare off-limits, whether oil is at $40 or $400 a barrel.

Gretchen Fitzgerald is director, Atlantic Canada chapter, Sierra Club Canada Foundation.

Source: Chronicle Herald

When the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout spewed 5-million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, one of the main tools used against the oil was a chemical dispersant called Corexit. 7-million litres of this detergent-like chemical was used to break up oil slicks, in part to disperse the oil into the water and prevent contamination of coastlines, birds, and marine mammals.

It was also thought that dissolving the slicks like this would increase the rate at which natural bacteria would bio-degrade the oil. But work by Dr. Samantha Joye, a microbiologist in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia, and her colleagues, has shown that Corexit seems to inhibit, rather than facilitate, the ability of microbes to break down oil, leaving the toxic oil in the water for longer.

This throws into question a big part of the case for using chemical dispersant on oil spills.

Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, studies the oil plumes generated by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout. (Credit: Todd Dickey/University of Georgia)

“The dispersants did a great job in that they got the oil off the surface,” Joye said. “What you see is the dispersants didn’t ramp up biodegradation.”

In fact, she found the oil with no dispersant “degraded a heckuva lot faster than the oil with dispersants,” Joye said.

Joye’s team chronicled nearly 50,000 species of bacteria in the Gulf and what they did to the water with oil, and water with oil and dispersant.

One of the main groups of oil munchers are fat little sausage-shaped bacteria called marinobacters, Joye said. They eat oil all the time and comprise about 3 percent of the bacteria in normal water. But when there’s oil, they eat and multiply like crazy until they are as much as 42 percent of the bacteria, Joye said.

But when the dispersant was applied, they didn’t grow. They stayed around 3 percent, Joye said.

Instead, a different family of bugs called colwellia multiplied more, and they don’t do nearly as good a job at munching the oil, Joye said. She theorized that for some reason the dispersant and marinobacters just don’t work together.

So if the oil wasn’t degraded by the bacteria, the question remains: Where did it go? Joye guesses it might still be on the floor of the gulf.

Should authorities avoid dispersants in the future? “That’s an extraordinarily complicated question,” says Joye. Corexit has its problems, but it does seem to keep oil away from coasts. “Nobody wants to see oiled birds, turtles, and dolphins, but the bottom line is that if you disperse that oil, it’s still in the water. You feel better, but is it improving the situation? My gut instinct is that I would put my faith in the microbial communities to do their job.”

Sources:
Listen to CBC podcast interview with Dr. Samantha Joye
Associated Press
The Atlantic

WEEKEND FOCUS AARON BESWICK Truro Bureau Chronicle Herald November 6, 2015

Actor Ethan Hawke, right, stands with Mi’kmaq elder Robert Pictou as he attends their community’s water ceremony on the shores of Pomquet Harbour last month to support the aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (ANDREW VAUGHAN / CP)

Low gas prices may be bigger obstacle than ecological concerns

Ethan Hawke might want to keep his powder dry.

When the Hollywood star held a news conference two weeks ago in Antigonish County with local First Nations and a group opposed to oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the media’s spotlight shone hard.

But after Hawke and all the reporters drove away in their gas-powered vehicles, two important questions remained.

If our society relies on hydrocarbons that we drill for on the Scotian Shelf and import from around the world, then why can’t we drill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence?

And how realistic is it that commercially viable oil will be found in the gulf anyway?

“The incredibly and blatantly obvious statement to make is that with oil prices down in numbers that start with a four (around US$40 dollars a barrel), the economic viability of many projects is not good,” said Gregory Chornoboy, a former oil industry analyst in Calgary who has reported on Corridor Resources.

“That would be an expensive well to drill.”

All the hype is around the plan of a Halifax junior exploration company to drill one exploratory well on a geological feature called Old Harry, about 80 kilometres west of Newfoundland’s most southern point.

“Old Harry has all the attributes required to hold a large resource,” said Grant Wach, a Dalhousie University geology professor who specializes in petroleum geoscience.

“But we won’t know until we drill.”

Basically, Old Harry is a big bubble of sandstone underneath the sea floor that is covered by shale rock.

Sandstone is important because it is filled with all kinds of little holes that can hold oil or gas. The shale is important because it works like a bottle cap, preventing the hydrocarbons from being released into the water.

So Corridor’s seismic data has indicated Old Harry is a good gas can. What’s not known is whether it’s empty.

A 2009 assessment by the Geological Survey of Canada estimated 39 trillion cubic feet of in-place natural gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, which includes Old Harry.

Those are big numbers that grabbed a lot of attention from the political and industrial leaders of the five cash-strapped provinces bordering the Gulf of St. Lawrence and from those opposed to oil exploration due to environmental concerns.

But don’t keep your eyes peeled on the horizon for tugs towing drilling rigs.

There have been 10 exploratory wells drilled in the gulf since 1944, none of which resulted in oil getting pumped out of the ground. Just one exploration well costs tens of millions of dollars to drill.

According to Corridor Resource’s annual reports, it has been unsuccessfully seeking a partner with deep pockets to fund its Old Harry exploration since 1997. In 2012, it went farther and hired consulting firm Macquarie Tristone to help it find a partner, but still no luck.

The price of oil, meanwhile, is half what it was in 2012.

“That’s always been a mystery to me,” Wach said when asked why a partner hasn’t been found.

“The geology is good and the technical staff at Corridor is superb. If this were in Alberta, it would be a slam dunk.”

But the communities surrounding the Gulf of St. Lawrence are a long way from Alberta.

“In the absence of objective scientific evidence stating that oil and gas activities in the Gulf of St. Lawrence poses no real risks to our eco-system and to our renewable resources, all hydrocarbon exploration activities, including seismic testing, should be suspended,” reads a letter signed by 20 fishermen’s associations, fish plant owners and First Nations leaders recently sent to the federal ministers of environment, fisheries and oceans and natural resources.

Then there’s David Suzuki, the Sierra Club and a host of grassroots environmental groups adamantly opposed to more drilling in the gulf.

The image of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning and sinking after a blowout in 2010 still holds power over a lot of minds on the East Coast.

Representatives of Shell Canada and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board were grilled by the legislature’s resource committee on response plans in the event of a blowout during drilling of two exploration wells about 250 kilometres southwest of Shelburne over the next 10 months.

So if we allow drilling on the Atlantic coast, why would we not allow it in the gulf? Both are important fishing grounds that could be badly hurt by an oil spill.

And the boats that take fishermen, scientists and tourists out to both waterways are powered by hydrocarbons that came out of the ground somewhere.

“We recognize as a society that not every activity can take place everywhere,” said Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University.

“We don’t do nuclear testing everywhere. We don’t build polluting industries in residential areas.”

He said he doesn’t think there should be drilling on the Scotian Shelf or in the gulf. But the gulf, said Worm, would be particularly sensitive to a spill due to a combination of geography and biology.

It exchanges water with the Atlantic Ocean through the Cabot Strait and the Strait of Belle Isle. This means that water circulates around the gulf before draining out.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is also significantly colder than the Gulf of Mexico and lacks the bacteria that work to naturally break down oil. So oil spilled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and carried into river estuaries would be there for a long time, said Worm.

Those salt marsh estuaries, protected by the Atlantic’s big waves, are nurseries for all manner of sea creatures. The spartina salt grasses of those estuaries, meanwhile, produce more biological matter per hectare than the rainforest and flush it out to fuel the ocean food web.

Wach said the industry has learned a lot since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and people should take a holistic view. Oil tankers and large ships carrying many chemicals pass through the gulf daily on their way to fuel the industries of Central Canada; those, he said, are a greater risk than a single exploratory well.

The stakes are high. The decision on whether Corridor gets permission to drill will fall to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, responsible for the area of the gulf in which most of Old Harry is located.

Corridor is midway through the board’s environmental assessment process, which has drawn lots of public comment from those opposed to the project.

“Geologists are usually optimists, so I do think it will happen,” said Wach.

But geologists don’t hold the purse strings. Those who do at big companies like British Petroleum and Shell haven’t come forward yet to team up with Corridor.

While no-one from the company was available to comment this week on Old Harry, president Steve Moran provided a written statement.

“Corridor is confident it can proceed safely and responsibly with its exploration programs at Old Harry, under Canada’s rigorous environmental regulation,” Moran wrote.

“This exploration program is currently before the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. Corridor will continue to address any issues raised as part of this regulatory process.”

Source: Chronicle Herald

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Nova Scotia | Save Our Seas and Shores

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.

CTVNews.ca Staff
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 1:06PM EST

Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke says he considers Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq people to be his “neighbours,” and that they’ve inspired him to support a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

“You know, I have a place up in Nova Scotia,” Hawke said CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday. “There is a Mi’kmaq (reserve) right near my house.”

Hawke, who is currently on tour promoting his new book “Rules for a Knight,” said the nearby First Nations group reached out to ask him to support their cause.

“They contacted me and made me aware of what was happening in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and what they’re doing to protect it,” he said.

Along with other environmental groups, the Mi’kmaq are calling for a 12-year moratorium on drilling in the area.

They say the drilling could harm the fragile ecosystem and their traditional lands, and want a thorough environmental assessment before any operations continue.

Hawke joined the Mi’kmaq for a traditional water ceremony last month to honour the community’s relationship with their environment.

“You know, they’re an impressive group of people,” Hawke said. “I really like how they’re using their indigenous rights to help us all.”

Hawke owns a property in St. George’s Bay, N.S., often spends time there during the summer.

In October, he told The Canadian Press that the area is “an absolutely magical place.”

Hawke told Canada AM that he feels it’s important to protect the gulf not only for himself and the Mi’kmaq currently living there, but for future generations.

“I really wanted my kids to see me (advocating with the Mi’kmaq) because that piece of property, with any luck, will be theirs’,” he said. “And the legacy of taking care of that land and that water will fall to them.”

Beyond environmental stewardship, Hawke also recently offered his children life lessons in the form of a new book.

In “Rules for a Knight,” the author and actor lists a series of traits all good knights – or good people – should possess.

Hawke says he drew upon his own life experience and family lessons to come up with the complete list of 20 rules, which span from lessons on humility to ruminations on solitude, friendship, and death.

Each chapter opens with an illustration of a bird, drawn by his wife, Ryan Shawhughes.

Hawke said the idea for the book originally sprang from a conversation with his Shawhughes about the most important rules in their home. The concept evolved into “Rules for a princess,” which was dedicated to his eldest daughter. Then, Hawke adjusted the title to fit his son’s interests.

“It slowly just grew in the telling until finally, this year, my oldest is graduating and we just decided to publish it,” he said.

Hawke said his wife and children influenced the book so much that, in some ways, he doesn’t feel right taking all the credit.

“I feel much more like the editor than an author,” he said.

Source: CTV Canada AM

[Note: Independent media video idea coverage of the October 26th press conference in Paq’tnkek is also available. Watch excerpts from all speakers here, and Save Our Seas and Shores spokesperson’s entire commentary here. Credit: Ruby Tree Films]

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.

From left, Troy Jerome, Ethan Hawke, Listuguj Chief Scott Martin and Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper take part in water ceremony Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

L to R Mary Gorman (Save Our Seas and Shores); Listuguj Chief Scott Martin; Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper; actor Ethan Hawke and Troy Jerome executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

Ethan Hawke took part in a water ceremony in Paqtnkek along the shores of Pomquet Harbour Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

Source: Kukuwes.com

Listuguj First Nation Chief Scott Martin (left), Roseann Martin of Listuguj First Nation, Bobby Pictou of Chapel Island First Nation and Academy Award nominated actor Ethan Hawke participate in a traditional water ceremony Monday afternoon in Afton. (PHOTO: Emily Hiltz)

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

Hawke says the concerns and wishes of local First Nations groups must be respected

CBC News Posted: Oct 26, 2015 12:01 PM AT

Last Updated: Oct 27, 2015 7:30 PM AT

Four-time Academy Award nominee and part-time Nova Scotia resident Ethan Hawke spoke out Monday about the need to protect the “beautiful water” of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas exploration.

Hawke was a special guest of an event in Afton in Nova Scotia’s Antigonish County, organized by the leadership of four First Nations groups from Nova Scotia and Quebec: the Paqtnkek, Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg First Nations.

The event included a water ceremony, followed by a press conference.

Hakwe was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours. He’s owned property in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish for 15 years and has been coming to the province for two decades.

“My family settled in Texas at the turn of the last century and if you’ve seen the water outside Galveston, you would weep. You would really weep,” said Hawke.

Chief PJ Prosper of Paq’tnkek and Ethan Hawke (Credit: CBC)

‘I trust their judgment’

He says the concerns and wishes of local First Nations groups must be respected.

“They’ve earned that right, not just by inhabiting these lands for thousands of years, but for the way they’ve cared for that land and the water,” said Hawke.

“I trust their judgment for what is best for this area, for the Earth, the land the people and the water.”

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 for years to raise awareness and Hawke’s name brings new attention to their concerns.

Save Our Seas and Shores members Mark Butler (L) and Ron Kelly (R) (Credit: Stephen Puddicombe CBC)

“Water, it affects everybody. It doesn’t just affect First Nations people,” said Jerome.

Hawke agreed his name can help lend some star power to the cause.

“The one thing I can do as the one actor in the community is to blab a little bit and to sit next to really intelligent, dedicated people who are working extremely hard to protect this beautiful water,” he said.

Ethan Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish, is lending his star power to a group of Mi’kmaq protesters who are calling for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (Stephen Puddicombe/CBC)

‘Now it’s their time to step up’

The Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition is calling for a 12-year exploration moratorium, which Jerome says is needed so the government can conduct a comprehensive review and environmental assessment.

The group says the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board is considering plans for drilling at a site known as Old Harry, which is located midway between Quebec’s Magdalen Islands and Cape Anguille in western Newfoundland.​

Jerome hopes the election of the federal Liberals will mean more co-operation from government, which is a promise Liberal candidates were making at doorsteps, he says.

“This will be one of the first tests that they will be challenged with because of the fact we’ve been trying to stop this for many years now and now that they’re the new government, now it’s their time to step up to the plate,” said Jerome.

He hopes the news coverage from Monday’s event will encourage Canadians to contact their MPs to talk about drilling.

Source: CBC 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

Mi’kmaq elders Robert Pictou and Roseanne Martin perform a traditional water ceremony on Monday afternoon in Antigonish County. They are joined by actor Ethan Hawke. (AARON BESWICK / Truro Bureau)

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

Actor Ethan Hawke, right, attends the Mi’kmaq community’s water ceremony on the shores of Pomquet Harbour to support the aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, near Antigonish, N.S.
(Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

By: Keith Doucette

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — The Canadian Press

Published Monday, Oct. 26, 2015 5:03PM EDT

Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke has added his star power to efforts by environmentalists and a Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq community who are trying to muster support for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hawke was the special guest of the Mi’kmaq community’s annual water ceremony held Monday in Pomquet Harbour near Antigonish.

Hawke, who owns land in nearby St. George’s Bay, was asked to attend the event in support of his neighbours.

The actor said he wanted to stand up for “an absolutely magical place” where he has lived for parts of the summer for the past 15 years.

“I’m sure some people are wondering what I’m doing here,” said Hawke. “I’m largely here as your neighbour and your friend and a friend to this area.”

Hawke said the native community members have proven to be trustworthy stewards of the land and it was an honour to take part in their event.

The ceremony 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.

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.”

The Mi’kmaq and environmental groups want a 12-year moratorium on any potential drilling in the gulf. They say it will take that long to complete a proper and comprehensive environmental assessment of a bio-diverse area of the ocean.

“While Canada’s thinking about drilling out there . . . we are telling them that they can’t do it without talking to the Mi’kmaq,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

Jerome said with a new Liberal government about to take power in Ottawa Canadians need to ask their MPs what they are doing about the gulf.

“Ethan Hawke is here doing something about the gulf, what are you (MPs) doing about the gulf?” he said.

Jerome told a news conference that Atlantic petroleum boards are operating at pace where Nova Scotians don’t feel they have a say about oil drilling.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the largest marine breeding regions in Canada with more than 2,000 marine species.

The area is home to endangered whales and is also home to a lucrative lobster fishery.

Source: Globe and Mail

Additional Canadian Press coverage appeared in the PEI Guardian

October 26, 2015

ANTIGONISH, N.S. – Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke was the special guest as a Mi’kmaq community in northeastern Nova Scotia held a water ceremony to support a call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay near Antigonish, was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours.

The actor says he took part as a friend to an area where he has lived for parts of the summer for the past 15 years.

Hawke says the native community have proven themselves to be trustworthy stewards of the land and it was an honour to take part in their event.

The Mi’kmaq and environmental groups want a 12-year moratorium on any potential drilling in the gulf.

They say it will take that long to complete a proper environmental assessment of a bio-diverse area of the ocean.

Source: The Western Star

By: Ben Cousins The Canadian Press

Published on Sun Oct 25 2015

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke will be in northern Nova Scotia Monday to help with the Mi’kmaq community’s water ceremony and support the aboriginal call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish, was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours.

“We trying to show the world that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is not available for oil exploration,” said Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. “It’s a race to get oil as opposed to a race protect the environment.”

“When you look at the state of the environment and climate change, I think we should be racing to protect the land where we can.”

The water ceremony is held in each season to give offerings and honour the Mi’kmaq people’s relationship with the water, the fish, the land.

For two years now, the group has been saying there should be a 12-year moratorium to give time to conduct a proper study by a third-party that looks at the Gulf as a whole ecosystem.

Jerome says up until now, studies have only been done by individual provinces.

“The oil is not going to know which side of the border to stop its spill at,” he said. “It’s going to go all over the place.”

“Our salmon do not follow a provincial boundary, they go right through the channel.”

Jerome says officials told him when you combine the provincial studies together, they achieve a comprehensive study for the area.

“For us, that flies in the face of good science.”

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the largest marine breeding regions in Canada with more than 2,000 marine species choosing to spawn, nurse and migrate there year round.

It is also home to endangered whales and hosts some of the largest lobster production in the world.

The Mi’kmaq say the area is a sensitive ecosystem due to its winter ice cover, high winds and counter clockwise currents that only flush into the Atlantic once a year.

Jerome says Atlantic petroleum boards are operating at pace where Nova Scotians don’t feel they have a say about oil drilling.

He says the tourism and fishing industries in the area are obviously concerned, but outside of that, not a whole lot of people really know about what’s going on.

“We want to get people in the Atlantic to become more aware that these kinds of drilling programs are proposed in their water.”

The venue for the water ceremony in Antigonish is also of historical significance.

The site was the location for the events that led to the Marshall Decision.

In 1993, Donald Marshall Jr., a member of the Membertou First Nation, was stopped for fishing in Antigonish County, N.S., for fishing eels without a license.

He claimed he was allowed to catch and sell fish by virtue of a treaty signed with the British Crown.

Six years later, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed Donald Marshall Jr. had a treaty right to catch and sell fish, thus changing the way First Nations people could hunt and catch in Canada.

Source: Metronews.ca

New Brunswick | Save Our Seas and Shores

CTVNews.ca Staff
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 1:06PM EST

Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke says he considers Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq people to be his “neighbours,” and that they’ve inspired him to support a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

“You know, I have a place up in Nova Scotia,” Hawke said CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday. “There is a Mi’kmaq (reserve) right near my house.”

Hawke, who is currently on tour promoting his new book “Rules for a Knight,” said the nearby First Nations group reached out to ask him to support their cause.

“They contacted me and made me aware of what was happening in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and what they’re doing to protect it,” he said.

Along with other environmental groups, the Mi’kmaq are calling for a 12-year moratorium on drilling in the area.

They say the drilling could harm the fragile ecosystem and their traditional lands, and want a thorough environmental assessment before any operations continue.

Hawke joined the Mi’kmaq for a traditional water ceremony last month to honour the community’s relationship with their environment.

“You know, they’re an impressive group of people,” Hawke said. “I really like how they’re using their indigenous rights to help us all.”

Hawke owns a property in St. George’s Bay, N.S., often spends time there during the summer.

In October, he told The Canadian Press that the area is “an absolutely magical place.”

Hawke told Canada AM that he feels it’s important to protect the gulf not only for himself and the Mi’kmaq currently living there, but for future generations.

“I really wanted my kids to see me (advocating with the Mi’kmaq) because that piece of property, with any luck, will be theirs’,” he said. “And the legacy of taking care of that land and that water will fall to them.”

Beyond environmental stewardship, Hawke also recently offered his children life lessons in the form of a new book.

In “Rules for a Knight,” the author and actor lists a series of traits all good knights – or good people – should possess.

Hawke says he drew upon his own life experience and family lessons to come up with the complete list of 20 rules, which span from lessons on humility to ruminations on solitude, friendship, and death.

Each chapter opens with an illustration of a bird, drawn by his wife, Ryan Shawhughes.

Hawke said the idea for the book originally sprang from a conversation with his Shawhughes about the most important rules in their home. The concept evolved into “Rules for a princess,” which was dedicated to his eldest daughter. Then, Hawke adjusted the title to fit his son’s interests.

“It slowly just grew in the telling until finally, this year, my oldest is graduating and we just decided to publish it,” he said.

Hawke said his wife and children influenced the book so much that, in some ways, he doesn’t feel right taking all the credit.

“I feel much more like the editor than an author,” he said.

Source: CTV Canada AM

[Note: Independent media video idea coverage of the October 26th press conference in Paq’tnkek is also available. Watch excerpts from all speakers here, and Save Our Seas and Shores spokesperson’s entire commentary here. Credit: Ruby Tree Films]

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.

From left, Troy Jerome, Ethan Hawke, Listuguj Chief Scott Martin and Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper take part in water ceremony Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

L to R Mary Gorman (Save Our Seas and Shores); Listuguj Chief Scott Martin; Paqtnkek Chief P.J. Prosper; actor Ethan Hawke and Troy Jerome executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat. (Photo: Stephen Brake)

“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.”

Ethan Hawke took part in a water ceremony in Paqtnkek along the shores of Pomquet Harbour Oct. 26 (Photo: Stephen Brake)

Source: Kukuwes.com

Listuguj First Nation Chief Scott Martin (left), Roseann Martin of Listuguj First Nation, Bobby Pictou of Chapel Island First Nation and Academy Award nominated actor Ethan Hawke participate in a traditional water ceremony Monday afternoon in Afton. (PHOTO: Emily Hiltz)

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

Hawke says the concerns and wishes of local First Nations groups must be respected

CBC News Posted: Oct 26, 2015 12:01 PM AT

Last Updated: Oct 27, 2015 7:30 PM AT

Four-time Academy Award nominee and part-time Nova Scotia resident Ethan Hawke spoke out Monday about the need to protect the “beautiful water” of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas exploration.

Hawke was a special guest of an event in Afton in Nova Scotia’s Antigonish County, organized by the leadership of four First Nations groups from Nova Scotia and Quebec: the Paqtnkek, Listuguj, Gesgapegiag and Gespeg First Nations.

The event included a water ceremony, followed by a press conference.

Hakwe was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours. He’s owned property in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish for 15 years and has been coming to the province for two decades.

“My family settled in Texas at the turn of the last century and if you’ve seen the water outside Galveston, you would weep. You would really weep,” said Hawke.

Chief PJ Prosper of Paq’tnkek and Ethan Hawke (Credit: CBC)

‘I trust their judgment’

He says the concerns and wishes of local First Nations groups must be respected.

“They’ve earned that right, not just by inhabiting these lands for thousands of years, but for the way they’ve cared for that land and the water,” said Hawke.

“I trust their judgment for what is best for this area, for the Earth, the land the people and the water.”

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 for years to raise awareness and Hawke’s name brings new attention to their concerns.

Save Our Seas and Shores members Mark Butler (L) and Ron Kelly (R) (Credit: Stephen Puddicombe CBC)

“Water, it affects everybody. It doesn’t just affect First Nations people,” said Jerome.

Hawke agreed his name can help lend some star power to the cause.

“The one thing I can do as the one actor in the community is to blab a little bit and to sit next to really intelligent, dedicated people who are working extremely hard to protect this beautiful water,” he said.

Ethan Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay area near Antigonish, is lending his star power to a group of Mi’kmaq protesters who are calling for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (Stephen Puddicombe/CBC)

‘Now it’s their time to step up’

The Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition is calling for a 12-year exploration moratorium, which Jerome says is needed so the government can conduct a comprehensive review and environmental assessment.

The group says the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board is considering plans for drilling at a site known as Old Harry, which is located midway between Quebec’s Magdalen Islands and Cape Anguille in western Newfoundland.​

Jerome hopes the election of the federal Liberals will mean more co-operation from government, which is a promise Liberal candidates were making at doorsteps, he says.

“This will be one of the first tests that they will be challenged with because of the fact we’ve been trying to stop this for many years now and now that they’re the new government, now it’s their time to step up to the plate,” said Jerome.

He hopes the news coverage from Monday’s event will encourage Canadians to contact their MPs to talk about drilling.

Source: CBC News

October 26, 2015

ANTIGONISH, N.S. – Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke was the special guest as a Mi’kmaq community in northeastern Nova Scotia held a water ceremony to support a call for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hawke, who owns land in the St. George’s Bay near Antigonish, was contacted by the local Mi’kmaq community to attend the event in support of his neighbours.

The actor says he took part as a friend to an area where he has lived for parts of the summer for the past 15 years.

Hawke says the native community have proven themselves to be trustworthy stewards of the land and it was an honour to take part in their event.

The Mi’kmaq and environmental groups want a 12-year moratorium on any potential drilling in the gulf.

They say it will take that long to complete a proper environmental assessment of a bio-diverse area of the ocean.

Source: The Western Star

The 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

July 21, 2015

by Danielle Rochette

APTN National News

Eighteen organizations spread out over four provinces are banding together and calling on the federal government to stop any kind of oil exploration work in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The group sent a letter Tuesday to Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea and Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq. [See press release here]

“As fisheries representatives active in all parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we are writing to inform you that we will oppose any petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without prior consultation and a thorough understanding of the impacts to our seafood industry,” the letter states.

It’s not clear who penned the letter.

The Nutewistoq M’igmawei Mawiomi Secretariat is one of the organizations that is part of the coalition.

The group pointed out that the process that will allow companies to explore for oil, will also allow them to circumvent the environmental or consultation process.

“Given that exploratory drilling has been downgraded to a simple ‘screening exercise,’ which does not necessitate consultation with existing users, we demand that the Old Harry prospect be put to a full review panel as is warranted by public concern under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act” the letter states.

A Mi’kmaq group out of Quebec is already lobbying the Quebec government to put in place a 12-year moratorium on exploration work in the Gulf. [See APTN story here: Nations band together to fight future oil exploration in Gulf of Saint Lawrence]

There is also a coalition made up of environmental groups and First Nation communities fighting any kind of oil work. They’re concerned that thousands of fisheries and tourism jobs will be at stake if there is a spill in the Gulf.

“We would also like to remind the federal government that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a common body of water and that spills occurring in one area cannot be contained by provincial delineations,” they say in the letter.

The Gulf waters touch five provinces, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Source: Groups band together to fight oil exploration on Gulf of St. Lawrence – APTN National news

Ask New Brunswick court to quash construction permit issued to Chaleur Terminals Inc., cite failure to consult CBC News

Jul 07, 2015

Mi’gmaq communities in the Gaspé region have take legal action against the New Brunswick government and Chaleur Terminals Inc., in a bid to halt construction of an oil terminal in Belledune, N.B.

Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation and the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat filed a notice of application with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Campbellton, N.B., on Monday.

They are seeking to quash the approval to construct permit, environmental approval permit and site approval issued to Chaleur Terminals by the New Brunswick Department of Environment earlier this year.

The band and not-for-profit corporation allege the provincial government has breached its “ongoing duty to consult and to seek to reach a reasonable accommodation with the applicants,” according to the court documents.

They want the court to issue an order prohibiting the government from issuing any further permits, approvals or authorizations to Chaleur Terminals “until such time as the province of New Brunswick has fulfilled its obligations to the applicants.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The New Brunswick government and Chaleur Terminals have not yet filed responses with the court.

Sacred duty to protect salmon

Troy Jerome, executive director of the Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat, contends the proposed project is in violation of aboriginal title, rights and treaties.

He says his people have a sacred duty to protect the salmon in the Matapedia and Restigouche rivers, along which the oil would be carried in rail cars.

​”Our people here fish salmon. If you look out on the river today, they’re out there fishing salmon. It’s our way of life. We’ve been doing that for thousands of years and we went and [did] what we had to do to defend our way of life in terms of protecting the salmon,” he said.

‘If there’s even one rail tank that spills into that river, it’s a lot more important to us than those 40 jobs.’- Troy Jerome, Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat

“We are one with the salmon. So the salmon [are] looking to us to protect them, and they provide us nourishment, so we have that kind of relationship, that direct relationship. And Chaleur Terminals right now, they’re talking about a couple of jobs, even up to 40 jobs — if there’s even one rail tank that spills into that river, it’s a lot more important to us than those 40 jobs.”

220 rail cars of Alberta oil daily

Chaleur Terminals, a subsidiary of Alberta-based Secure Energy Services, purchased 250 acres from the Port of Belledune last year. It plans to transport Alberta crude oil to Belledune by rail, for marine export abroad.

Construction is expected to start at the end of 2015 or 2016 and take about 18 months. Once complete, the project would see about 220 rail cars carrying oil to Belledune every day.

Jerome says people in the Gaspé area don’t have much faith in CN Railway after upgrades earlier this year caused irreversible damage to the local salmon population, according to anglers.

And he says efforts to discuss the project with the provincial and federal governments have so far not resulted in proper engagement.

In April, CN Railway dumped 6,000 tonnes of rocks on the side of its tracks to prevent erosion — and right into an important salmon breeding ground in the Matapedia River, causing irreversible damage, according to Quebec’s Atlantic Salmon Federation.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officials have said the rail company didn’t respect its maintenance work permit when it dumped the rocks during an important time in the Atlantic salmon breeding cycle.

A total of 22 municipalities in Quebec have voiced opposition to Chaleur Terminals’ project in Belledune.

Local politicians in New Brunswick, however, have said they welcome the estimated 200 jobs it will create during construction and 40 permanent full-time jobs once it’s in operation.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/quebec-first-nations-take-legal-action-against-belledune-oil-terminal-1.3141269

John Wathen is a photojournalist with the Waterkeeper Alliance. In this video, he presents his footage of the Gulf of Mexico taken immediately after the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout to an audience in New Zealand.