Sarnia, Ont. mayor pulls no punches in reaction to latest bid to save Line 5 pipeline

The mayor of Sarnia is pulling no punches in reacting to news the fate of the Line 5 pipeline can no longer be determined by the governor of Michigan.

“Now the federal government has said, ‘Look we’re not going to put up with the antics of the governor of Michigan any more,’” exclaimed Mike Bradley.

His response came after Canada took the unprecedented step of invoking a 44-year-old treaty to keep the oil pipeline flowing.

“She has done tremendous damage to the relationship between Ontario and Michigan, Canada and the U.S. There’s $90 billion of trade goes across that (Blue Water) Bridge, through this tunnel, and the Ambassador Bridge, and there’s no respect for that relationship,” he added.

For the first time since its inception, Canada has invoked the 1977 pipeline treaty between Canada and the U.S. in a bid to prevent Michigan from turning off the taps to Enbridge’s Line 5.

Citing concerns over the environmental impact of a potential breach, last year Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered a 1953 easement be revoked. That easement allowed the crude oil pipeline to cross the Straits of Mackinac, connecting lakes Huron and Michigan.

Liberal MPP Peter Fragiskatos said the treaty means the pipeline will now be dealt with strictly at the federal level.

“The arbitration between the state of Michigan and Enbridge, the company that’s responsible for the pipeline, is not moving, and so we had no choice, because of the economic ramifications. Also because of the need, again, to keep Canadians warm during the winter. It is really that simple to invoke Article 9 of that treaty so we can engage in a negotiation with the Biden administration.”

For most people the very idea of Line 5 and what it means seems abstract and far removed from their lives. But according to Bradley the crude that runs through it is used in the manufacture of some 6,000 everyday items.

That includes everything from gas and diesel, to things like eyeglasses, jacket liners and umbrellas. “You name it, anything associated with plastic or refined products have come out of that pipeline,” said Bradley.

Environmental groups and First Nations have joined Whitmer in calling for the pipeline to be closed. Enbridge has said it will construct a 6.4 kilometre tunnel to replace the lines beneath the Straits of Mackinac.