October 3, 2012
Feds irked by pipeline lesson plans
By Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau
The B.C. Teachers' Federation gets a poor grade from the federal natural resources minister for new lesson plans, called "What we stand to lose with pipelines and supertankers."
"I'm concerned if our youth are being subjected to one side of a really critical public issue without hearing from the other side," Joe Oliver said Wednesday. "My understanding is it's somewhat unbalanced and I think that's regrettable."
The lesson plans and classroom resources emphasize opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to connect Alberta's oilsands with a tanker terminal on the north coast of B.C.
Teachers are encouraged to get middle school students to sign an anti-Northern Gateway petition while pointing them to anti-oilsands groups like the Dogwood Initiative and the left-wing Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The union says the goal is to teach critical thinking.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark says she hasn't seen the lessons yet, but argues critical thinking can't be taught by "presenting one side of the argument because when you do that it starts to sound a lot more like indoctrination than it does like education."
Oliver is also facing questions about Clark's stance on Northern Gateway.
On Tuesday, she suggested B.C.'s publicly owned electricity utility could cut off power to the Northern Gateway pipeline if it's built before her demands on revenue sharing, environmental issues and aboriginal rights are satisfied.
Oliver says revenue is the only sticking point between B.C. and Alberta, but added he wouldn't get involved in the dispute.
Clark says none of her conditions have been met, so the feds should get involved — even in revenue sharing.
"The federal government will also have to be at the table," she said. "Unless all the parties step up and British Columbia gets its fair share and we've met the other four conditions, the pipeline will not go ahead."
— with files from Ada Slivinski