More than 10,000 Canadians from coast to coast gathered to raise one voice in protest on Saturday, November 16. One hundred and thirty organizations, indigenous groups, and environmental organizations came together to let Canada know how they felt about Enbridge, pipelines and climate change.
I joined the Etobicoke Lakeshore team that day, a small but determined group standing up for the environment. We were on Kipling Avenue holding out our signs to those passing by and received a wide range of responses — honks of approval, smiles, laughs, and thumbs up. We also received confused looks, blank stares, and one finger salutes. We smiled and waved at all onlookers, hoping more people would get informed and join the fight.
Our small team was made up of people that hadn’t previously known each other, yet there was a sense of unity. It’s encouraging to rally with people because it gives you a sense that you are not the only one that cares. This encouragement continued to grow throughout the day as we witnessed updates from different communities flood in over social media.
“In Toronto, hundreds of people lay down on the ground to symbolize the path of the Enbridge Line 9 pipeline through the community,” Matthew Carroll from the LeadNow organization reported. “In Ottawa, you built a sandbag wall outside Prime Minister Harper’s office and heard from a Filipino community leader about the devastation Typhoon Haiyan has caused her country.
“In Vancouver, thousands upon thousands rallied to say ‘No’ to the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines, and the bitumen tankers that would threaten the coast. …and that was just a fraction of the 130 actions across Canada. On Sunday all across Australia, our friends at GetUp!, also took to the streets by the tens of thousands for the largest climate change rallies their country has ever seen, so this truly was a global call for action.”
I asked Enbridge, which is behind the Line 9 project as well as the Northern Gateway pipeline in British Columbia, if it had anything to say about these protests. Company spokesman Graham White responded, “At Enbridge we recognize people’s right to voice their concerns on the issue of climate change and responsible resource development and we share those concerns. As an energy transportation company, we look forward to remaining a key part of the dialogue on these important issues, and we are deeply committed to bring part of the solution.”
On Saturday, Canadians exercised that right and said no to these pipelines and though Enbridge says they are concerned about our home they are sending mixed messages. Josée Duplessis, chair of Montreal’s executive committee for sustainable development, commented in an article written for Equiterre, “Unfortunately, Enbridge has not, to date, demonstrated sound risk management practices. Our main concern is to protect the drinking water supply …”
Patricia Domingos, mayor of Sainte-Justine-de-Newton, a Quebec community along the Line 9 pipeline also commented, “Enbridge is ignoring the risks associated with using a 38-year-old pipeline. During the various meetings we’ve had with the company, we’ve never had the impression that Enbridge wants to cooperate in a healthy, straightforward way.”
The protection of our environment, health and future is becoming a hot topic for Canadians. “We know that by working together we can turn the corner on reckless, dirty energy projects that endanger our climate and our communities, and create an economy that’s built to last with energy that is clean, just and safe,” said Carrol in an update.”
These protests made it clear that the wall of opposition against oil pipelines is growing fast and that Enbridge may have a harder road in front of them getting these projects approved.