DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press Douglas Channel, the proposed termination point for an oil pipeline in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, is pictured in an aerial view in Kitimat, B.C., on January 10, 2012.

After being barred from a public hearing into the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, Victoria MP Murray Rankin is renewing his criticism of the project.

“I’m opposed to the pipeline and I don’t mind admitting it,” Rankin told Metro.

Although such hearings are required by law and usually open to the public, organizers in Victoria only allowed participants and registered speakers to attend. Concerns about protestors were cited as a rationale.

Members of the public — including Rankin — were told they could view the Jan. 4 event via a live video feed at the Ramada Hotel on Gorge Road.

“I resented that,” Rankin said. “It’s like watching a hockey game live versus watching it on television. There’s a huge difference.”

With Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver endorsing the project and recent changes allowing cabinet to overrule the findings of the joint review panel, Rankin says public consultation around the pipeline is at risk of losing its credibility.

“The fix is in,” he said. “Having a strategy where the public isn’t allowed in is perfect for government that has already made up its mind.”

A second hearing is scheduled for Jan. 11 at the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa. After that, the hearings will head to Vancouver, where a similar process will be followed.

If the organizers are truly concerned about protestors, Rankin says they should listen to them instead of barring them from participating.

“This is the most controversial project in recent memory in B.C.,” he said. “When the public is given a second-class alternative, it’s only going to add fuel to the fire.”

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