About 75 people rallied in Revelstoke’s Grizzly Plaza on Oct. 24 as part of a noon-hour protest against oil pipelines, including the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal. The local protest was one of over 60 in communities across B.C. organized by Defend Our Coast.
Demonstrators targeted their local MLA offices, but since there’s not a constituency office here, they held the protest in the downtown plaza.
Local organizer Jennifer Crockford gave a brief speech before organizing the crowd for a photo to be sent beck to Defend Our Coast. Afterwards attendees hung around and chatted with each other.
In an interview, Crockford said she was primarily motivated by protecting wilderness. “For me it was about pipelines crossing some of the [most] pristine nature in northern B.C., but even more [importantly] about the supertankers coming into the Kitimat port and going through Hecate Strait. Most of us agree that their will be an oil spill – it’s just a given,” she said.
Crockford also cited larger geopolitical issues, such as the controversial proposed Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPA). The trade act signed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is scheduled to go into effect Nov. 1 without debate in Parliament. Critics say the law will give Chinese state-owned mineral and oil companies the authority to skirt Canadian environment rules and labour laws.
PHOTO: Local protest organizer Jennifer Crockford. Aaron Orlando photo
“Our country is possibly going down a really bad path of letting foreign interests take over our oil,” she said. “It’s part of the great Canadian heritage to give away our resources – maybe it’s time to stop.”
“When you see that people in a small town in the Southeastern part of B.C. are this committed to stopping the Northern Gateway Pipeline, it tells me that there is a huge movement against the [pipeline],” Crockford added.
Resident Stu Smith said the risks and legacy to future generations are unacceptable. “The grandchildren of the politicians that are making these decisions are being left in a position where it’s not if, it’s when they’re going to be dealing with the clean up of a horrendous mess on our pristine rivers and our coastline in B.C.,” he said.
For Smith, the pipeline issue will determine his vote in upcoming elections. “I’m a proud Canadian but I’m ashamed of my government and the decisions it’s making,” he said.
Resident Leah Evans said she’d travelled to areas in Northern B.C. where the pipeline route is planned. “It’s beautiful. I think a lot of people don’t realize what we have, and to see something destroy that – that can never come back,” she said.”
Wednesday’s protests followed Monday’s rally in Victoria where more than 2,000 protesters gathered on the B.C. legislature lawn, some promising to provoke arrests as well as criticizing proposed heavy oil pipelines from Alberta to the B.C. coast.
Organizers of the Victoria rally offered training in civil disobedience techniques to the more than 1,000 people who signed up for the protest, under the banner of Defend Our Coast. Sponsored by Greenpeace and the Council of Canadians, the coalition includes unions, aboriginal leaders and environmental organizations. Victoria Police were out in force to back up legislature security, who locked the buildings down and turned away visitors for the day.
The new proposals are “job killers” because more diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands will be shipped out raw, either from Burnaby or Kitimat, said David Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union.
The protests focused on two proposed projects, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline from northern Alberta to Kitimat and the pending application by Kinder Morgan to twin its oil pipeline that has been carrying Alberta oil to Burnaby and Washington state for more than 60 years.
~with notes from Black Press