Justice Thomas Berger

Here’s a short video I directed as part of a series put together by West Coast Environmental Law, called “Living Democracy From the Ground Up.” The mini-documentaries are a part of a new campaign to maintain and strengthen Canada’s environmental laws.

I had the privilege of interviewing retired judge Thomas Berger OC, OBC, QC. He led the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry in the 1970s, on which he reflects in the video.

Berger says:

“I think that democracy consists of more than just voting the government in or out every four years. I think that inquiries can be a critical part of the democratic process — it allows people to have a say about their future at a proper hearing. It’s a way of expanding the decision-making process. If you consult local people, if you consult the people affected, you’ll get better projects. That’s a lesson in democracy. That’s why it’s so important that we provide for the fullest possible consultation in any major project.”

In light of my experience this summer with the National Energy Board panel reviewing the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, I found Berger’s comments incisive and timely.

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