When the Canadian government decided to throw together last-minute public meetings on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline during the height of summer, they seemed to hope the meetings would float serenely under the radar.
The meetings were poorly promoted and the timelines were inadequate to allow people to properly prepare presentations. The locations weren’t clear and the meeting structure and online process to register were unwieldly and off-putting. Several meeting dates changed and more dates were added due to an outcry about some communities being excluded. The meetings had an ad hoc feel and it wasn’t clear to anyone how the government would use the information it compiled, or even how it would be compiled. Local First Nations told us they heard about the meetings only because organizations such as Sierra Club B.C. alerted them.
Despite all this, it was genuinely inspiring and heartening to see a passionate determination on the part of ordinary citizens to have their voices heard and to stand up for this coast. About 400 people showed up to the Victoria public meeting, many driving several hours to be there. Yet more than 100 people were shut out of the room, denied their chance to be heard.
In all the meetings, 418 people were opposed, with only 39 speaking in favour – a decisive 91.4 per cent against Kinder Morgan’s proposal. In addition, 17 First Nations were opposed, as were 21 local governments.
The federal government had billed these meetings as an effort to compensate for the multiple shortcomings of the original National Energy Board hearings. The NEB recommended approval of the pipeline and tankers proposal despite widespread opposition.
Sources close to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau say he is determined to approve a pipeline – and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain is the likeliest candidate. We can’t let the federal government use this latest panel to provide an air of legitimacy to the NEB’s deeply flawed process.
Prime Minister Trudeau has said that “governments grant permits, communities grant permission”. With each of the meetings along the pipeline and tanker route, it became more and more clear that permission has not been granted. British Columbians prefer a commitment to real Sunny Ways, without the fossil fuel haze and economic malaise of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
The public meetings provide the Prime Minister with an excellent opportunity to make a change in policy direction. His government now has community backing to drop its support for Kinder Morgan and bring Canada’s economic policy into alignment with his commitments on climate. Their mandate to move boldly and decisively on climate and the economy has been confirmed. The climate math is strikingly simple: It is not possible to be a climate leader and build tar sands pipelines.
Saying no to Kinder Morgan would be to say yes to our Paris climate commitments, to protection of BC’s environment and economy from the threat of catastrophic pipeline and tanker spills and to repositioning BC and Canada as job-growth leaders in the emerging renewable energy economy.
VIDEO: Victoria environmental roundtable on August 23, courtesy of Ed Johnson at the Saanich Report
At 4:40, our climate & energy campaigner Larissa Stendie takes on the impossibility of spill response and the panel’s bias.
At 19:00, our campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon talks about the climate change implications of the pipeline.
Featured image (Top): Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps spoke at a large, peaceful action outside the Victoria townhall organized by Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Committee, and Greenpeace. Photo by Kat Zimmer.