Opponents of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion are calling federal approval of the project a ‘betrayal’ and a ‘sneak attack.’
Indigenous groups, environmentalists and political opponents are vowing to fight the plan. About 300 protesters launched an impromptu demonstration in downtown Vancouver last night where Union of BC Indian Chiefs vice president, Chief Bob Chamberlin told the crowd Prime Minsiter Justin Trudeau won’t have the last word on the Kinder Morgan proposal. “Some people have two faces and I think that we’re seeing that today. When I consider the election promises of this government and the commitments that were made after the election to First Nations people, the decision today does not reflect that.”
Chamberlin says First Nations don’t accept the pipeline approval. “I have every confidence that this is only the beginning of a very long struggle for this government. I cannot see the Kinder Morgan pipeline being built, it’s that simple.”
An organizer of the so-called War in the Woods in BC’s Clayoquot Sound warns protests could be even larger than the 1993 action against clearcut logging. Karen Mahon was with Greenpeace at the time and sees many parallels to the pipeline approval opposition. “There will be mass protests, I think there’s no way they’re going to be able to lay that pipeline without taking away some hundreds, possibly thousand of people.”
Mahon says Justin Trudeau is underestimating the opposition, just as then BC Premier Mike Harcourt did. She predicts protesters are even better prepared this time around saying she’s been approached by ordinary people from grandmas to office workers–telling her they’re ready to risk arrest to block the project. “I went through Clayoquot Sound, I was one of the organizers, and that was at the time the biggest civil disobedience in Canadian history, and it didn’t have the buildup that this has. When we were at the meetings this summer, people would come up to me and say ‘Can you put my name on the list,’ and I would say what list? And they would say ‘the list to be arrested.'”
Peter McCartney with the Wilderness Committee says Trudeau’s approval is a betrayal, but adds the fight is only just beginning. “We killed Northern Gateway. That had all its approvals too. It’s not the 1950s anymore, you can’t just a ram pipeline over massive local opposition. We had 5,000 people out in the streets last Saturday, and we can do it all again.”
BC NDP MP Kennedy Stewart calls the Kinder Morgan approval a surprise announcement and one the Trudeau Liberals will regret. “Prime Minister Trudeau has betrayed British Columbians by approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline. He emphatically said through the election and so did his 17 MPs they would subject this pipeline to a new, revamped review that was based on science and consent from First Nations. They’ve broken that promise and betrayed British Columbians.”
Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, also a vehement opponent of the Kinder Morgan expansion, says in a statement that he’s “profoundly disappointed” with the decision. Robertson says while the city has worked with the federal government on a number of issues, the Kinder Morgan represents “a big step backwards” for Canada’s environment and economy.
The city of Vancouver and a Vancouver-area First Nation both have legal challenges against the project in front of the courts.
With files from CKNW