Thousands rally in Vancouver against Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline
With a decision looming on the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta’s oilsands to B.C.’s coast, several thousand rallied against the proposal Saturday in Vancouver.
A broad collection of environmental, First Nations, and political groups gathered outside Telus World of Science to hear fiery speeches and shout their opposition to the $6.5-billion pipeline proposed by Calgary-based Enbridge.
With a new agreement on terms to accept the pipeline announced between B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford, pundits are predicting approval for the Northern Gateway from the National Energy Board by the year’s end.
But that’s when the resistance will really start, speakers such as Coastal First Nations leader Art Sterritt assured cheering crowds Saturday.
“The Northern Gateway is the sharp edge of the wedge, and if we allow it to go through there will be pipelines crossing all over B.C., just like Alberta,” Sterritt shouted from a stage.
“Are we going to let Stephen Harper and his bullies bulldozer this province? No!”
Nathan Cullen, NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, also blasted the Conservative government, and said predictions that pipeline construction is inevitable will be proven wrong.
“They’ve called (pipeline opponents) enemies of the state and they thought they could bully us,” Cullen said from stage. “But we have the people, and the truth.”
Rally organizer Ben West, of ForestEthics Advocacy, said the rally turnout Saturday should send a strong anti-pipeline message to Christy Clark and Stephen Harper.
“Saying ‘no’ to the Enbridge pipeline is about saying ‘no’ to big corporations having too much power over our governments,” West told the crowd.
Speakers and rally attendees interviewed by the Sunday Province claimed that Enbridge has a bad record for spilling oil and botching clean ups, and that disasters will surely occur in B.C. if the Northern Gateway proceeds.
But Enbridge spokeswoman Katherine Coutinho told the Sunday Province, “the Northern Gateway pipeline will lead the way with the toughest environmental standards anywhere in the world.”
On Saturday, Coutinho said Enbridge has delivered almost 12 billion barrels of crude oil “with a safe delivery record of better than 99.999 per cent” over the past 10 years, and the company is aiming for “zero incidents.”
In the crowd, many attendees seemed to believe the Northern Gateway is a done deal with regulators, but public opinion, blockades on the ground, and lawsuits from First Nations will be the next line of battle for the pipeline.
“I want to say no to the Enbridge pipeline to save our nature,” Nuka Lennert said.
“I know the two premiers just made an agreement and it doesn’t look good, but I really hope we can make an impact.”
“This pipeline is a really important issue that just seems like it’s being shoved down our throats right now,” said Dan Miller.
“I think we have to keep the oil in the ground and we really have to get serious now about climate change, or it’s game over,” said 73-year-old Ann Grant, who was carrying a B.C. flag covered in black oil drips.