Dozens of protests were organized around the province today, as hundreds of people came together in solidarity against Canada’s decision last week to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan.
Located mostly in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island — with other demonstrations taking place in the Okanagan, Kootenays and the North — Monday’s ‘Day of Action’ was billed as a way to speak up against the pipeline sale by joining forces outside local MP offices or other visible locations throughout the province.
Despite protests being organized for the first day of the week, many of the rallies that Black Press journalists covered were well attended. We spoke with a number of organizers and supporters and this is some of what they had to say:
“My original plan was to drive to Chilliwack but I thought why not do it here. There are people here who have a voice as well,” explained Terry Wilkinson, who helped host and coordinate an event in Mission.
“We as tax paying citizens do not agree with the recent decision of using taxpayers money to pay for Kinder Morgan, which we don’t agree with in the first place. So not only is it an environmental disaster waiting to happen, it’s now a financial disaster that has happened.”
Nearly 100 people turned out in South Surrey, where opposition to the decision was strong.
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“The importance of what we’re doing here is just huge,” local organizer Geoff Dean, a South Surrey resident, told the crowd. “The stupidity of the Trudeau government to think that they’re going to put $4.5 billion-plus into a pipeline. If they put that money into solar energy, we’d be way better off.”
Several members of the Council of Canadians in Williams Lake attended their local rally, including Keith Munroe who said the message of the federal government is inconsistent.
“You can’t demonstrate climate leadership and invest in increases in tar sands production, it just doesn’t make sense,” he said.
That sentiment was echoed by Vicky Dalton in Cranbrook.
“It’s a huge mistake, environmentally, socially; it’s incredibly irresponsible, frankly, for the government,” she said.
“Why are we supporting fossil fuels when we should be investing that money in renewable energy? And why are we, when we’ve just a few years ago signed on to the UN declaration of Aboriginal rights, why are we supporting something that many, many First Nations are extremely opposed to it, and have been mounting significant protests for years.”
In Surrey, Rebecca Haber tightly held a small envelope for her local MP.
“There’s over 100,000 signatures on this petition. It’s on a USB stick, that’s why it looks so small,” Haber said, adding that it’s “unacceptable that the Liberal government is spending billions of our tax dollars on a fossil fuel project at a time when we need real action on climate change.”
Port Alberni organizer John Mayba would like to see comparative studies of the future needs of both coal and oil, and two or three different scenarios: what would happen if we continue using these resources as we are now; examine how much we would need to transition to sustainable energy solutions and for how long; and take an honest look at how going to war against climate change would cost if we ceased using such resources immediately.
About 150 people gathered in front of city hall in Nelson, among them was speaker Keith Wiley.
“This was a very upsetting week with the nationalization of the pipeline,” Wiley said after addressing the crowd.
“The fact that there is so little talk about the climate change aspects of the bitumen, about the big picture stuff, is extremely upsetting. It’s all talk about making the provinces ‘play nice’,and the politics of it. This completely avoids the elephant in the room which is our planet’s climate.”
Petitions signed by more than 265,000 people opposed to the pipeline purchase were to be delivered to the federal government on Monday.
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