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Pipeline mobilization via phone calls

Water activists held a phone-in day to hold banks and PM Trudeau accountable to divest

A small, yet determined group of environmental activists congregated around a table on the seventh floor of the Hall building to make phone calls to banks and urge them to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the Trans Mountain Pipeline on Wednesday.

Climate Justice Montreal (CJM), a group that supports climate and environmental justice by virtue of educating, calls to action and standing in unity with communities affected by environmental issues, organized the phone-in.

Climate Justice Montreal held their event in the CSU lounge in the Hall building. Photo by Savanna Craig

Climate Justice Montreal held their event in the CSU lounge in the Hall building. Photo by Savanna Craig

The event, which began at noon, housed participants at a table located in the Concordia Student Union (CSU) lounge, adjacent to the long, winding line of students waiting for People’s Potato to open.

Callers were offered scripts, which explained why activists would like banks to divest from pipeline projects. The importance of prioritizing the environment and communities threatened by the Trans Mountain and DAPL pipelines was outlined in the scripts as well.

Three Canadian banks are currently funding the DAPL construction—TD Bank, Scotiabank and RBC.

Political representatives and agencies were called to push for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to no longer support the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

“All together, TD gave $2.5 billion to the Dakota Access Pipeline and I don’t think any resistance [for] these pipelines is going to come from the government at this point,” said Maya Provençal, a participant involved with CJM.

“Especially with Donald Trump—he’s very pro-fossil fuel, pro-pipeline—so I think one of our only hopes is to get big banks and big companies to pull their money that they have invested in these pipelines,” said Provençal. “Without that money, the Dakota Access can’t go forward,” Provençal said.

She said she thinks targeting the banks is one of the most effective things activists can do.

“TD is the biggest investor by a lot,” said Provençal, explaining that as the largest funding body of the DAPL, CJM are focusing primarily on targeting TD Bank right now. “I could see us targetting other banks in the future.”

The Trans Mountain expansion project, imposed by Kinder Morgan—an American energy infrastructure company—will enable the construction of a new pipeline to run alongside the existing Trans Mountain pipeline—which runs between Edmonton, Alta. and Burnaby, B.C.

“We have this website where you can find your member of parliament, your representative, by entering your postal code and then we have a script,” said Provençal.

Provençal said Amy Miller, a participant in CJM, sent an email out last week in order to advocate for more mobilization around pipeline projects. This resulted in formulating this event framed around calling TD Bank and political representatives.

“I think sometimes people don’t realize how easy it is to just make an event like this. Really it’s a matter of just pulling a couple of chairs together, having a script, having the numbers organized,” said Miller.

Miller hopes to have mobilization take place each week.

“Whether it’s pickets at different TD Banks every week—which will probably be what’s next—or doing another march, doing another action at TD Bank, we definitely plan on keeping the pressure up,” said Miller.

Provençal said CJM hopes to take on an entire campaign dedicated to bank divestment in the near future. “We’ll see more action around that in the city soon,” she said.

“It’s not about just divesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, but it’s about stopping fossil fuel extraction at the source for all projects,” said Miller. “We can’t have greenhouse gas emissions rise, we can’t have the tar sands continue to expand.”

“It’s 2017, there’s no more time for talk, the time is now—we need to keep it in the ground,” said Miller.

About Savanna Craig