Mobilization erupts against Liberal government’s approval of Kinder Morgan and Enbridge pipeline projects
A crowd gathered at Phillips Square in Downtown Montreal Saturday afternoon to oppose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval of two out of three pipeline projects: the Trans Mountain expansion and Line 3.
Roughly just more than 100 people cheered in solidarity as various speakers took to the stage to call for unity and mobilization against the decision made by the Liberal government to expand and construct two pipelines. The event was initiated by Montreal community member Shane Thompson, who organized the protest by creating an event page on Facebook.
“We see what’s happening, we see the injustice and we get angry,” event speaker Jamie Nicholls said to the crowd. He said while the approval of the two pipeline projects has made people upset and aggressive, we must look to our neighbours to the south of us as a good example of strength.
“We look at our brothers and sisters in Dakota––every time the police come they’re not taking up arms, they’re not fighting,” said Nicholls. “They’re standing there strong like a mountain, like a rock in front of this power,” Nicholls shouted as the crowd cheered.
“We have to go in love, we have to be strong, but not aggressive,” said Nicholls. “We are going to change this country and we are going to build a better momentum for our children––together we’re going to do it,” Nicholls said, concluding his speech.
The Trans Mountain Pipeline was built in 1953. The proposed expansion involves a twinned pipeline adjacent to the original pipeline carrying crude oil between Strathcona County, Alta., and Burnaby, B.C., according to the Trans Mountain website. This expansion will allow the Trans Mountain pipeline to transport 890,000 barrels of crude oil per day, an increase from its current amount of 300,000 barrels, according to the same website.
The newly approved Line 3 project by Enbridge intends to replace line segments between Hardisty, Alta. and Superior, Wis., including construction of associated facilities, according to Enbridge’s official website.
The group of people cheered on as speakers expressed their disapproval of the pipelines, followed by a performance of traditional indigenous drumming.
“The liberals are, in our view, a ruling class party––a party of the rich, a party of the oil barons, the party of wall street, bay street––just like the conservatives are,” said Nick Payne, Concordia computer science student and member of Concordia’s Socialist Fightback Association. He said many people have compared Trudeau’s first term as an extension of Stephen Harper, former Conservative Prime Minister.
“There’s truth in that expression because when you serve the interest of capital, you have to carry out its economic and political program––which is to exploit and oppress working people and indigenous people and exploit the land without a plan,” said Payne.
“We’re here to talk to people who are radicalized by these events and trying to draw the connections to the system that produces environmental destruction,” said Payne.
“People are fundamentally coming to terms with the limits of capitalism as a system––it’s inability to care for the environment, it’s inability to avoid war, it’s reliance on racism and sexism––all these struggles are connected,” said Payne.
“Even though Justin Trudeau has approved the pipeline, it doesn’t mean anything,” Jed Lenetsky, spokesperson for the event and organizer with Divest McGill told The Concordian.
Lenetsky said when the National Energy Board (NEB) approved the Northern Gateway Pipeline, many thought it was a finalized deal, however, many indigenous peoples went to court and won their cases, resulting in the rejection of the Northern Gateway Pipelines.
The Northern Gateway Pipeline, imposed by Enbridge, proposed to build a line running from Bruderheim, Alta., leading to Kitimat, B.C., according to Energy BC.
“If Canada is serious about being a climate leader and taking climate change seriously then the bottom line is that we cannot be building any tar sands infrastructure,” said Lenetsky.
“The Kinder Morgan pipeline is going to lock us into more increased tar sands expansion for the next 30 years,” said Lenetsky. “We need to be moving off fossil fuels in that time and not burning more and sending them to other countries.”
“It’s also important to stand up against these pipelines because they are directly violating the rights of indigenous peoples who are concerned about their water and the health of their land,” said Lenetsky. “That should be an important issue for all Canadians.”
In Trudeau’s announcement approving the two pipeline projects, he said indigenous peoples were consulted, said Lenetsky. “What is the value of consulting people if you’re not going to listen to them?” said Lenetsky.
“As privileged people living in urban areas it’s our duty to show up and stand up in every way we can to support people on the front lines,” said Lenetsky. “This fight is not over, people are going to put their bodies on the line to make sure it doesn’t get built, people will go to court to make sure it doesn’t get built.”