Though the federal government had won its case for the TransMountain oil pipeline to proceed, the years of anti pipeline protests have ramped up again.
Over the weekend, yesterday and today, protests and blockades went up in several locations across the country in support of a First Nation indigenous opposition to a gas pipeline across their traditional land.
Busy roadways were blocked as were major railway lines.
Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders near Houston in northern British Columbia are against the project, an over $6 billion gas line stretching over 700 kilometres from gas wells in the B.C interior to a new liquefied gas terminal on the B.C coast where it will be shipped to markets in Asia.
Indigenous opposition however is not unanimous. Federal Environment minister, noting the degree of opposition said that 20 local First Nation band councils along the route continue to support the pipeline’s development, despite the opposition of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders. Gary Mar, the CEO of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, said that with the elected band council members agreeing with the project it’s being held up by a few who oppose it.
Protests with varying degrees of disruption were held in Vancouver,Victoria and near Smithers in B.C , Edmonton Alberta, Winnipeg Manitoba, Toronto, Ottawa, and Belleville in Ontario, a commuter rail line in Montreal, and even as far east as St. John’s Newfoundland
Two bridges were blocked by protesters in Victoria, while others blocked access to the ports of Vancouver and Delta.
Police arrested some 21 protesters blocking gas line workers in northern BC, while dozens of others were arrested Monday in Vancouver.
Railway lines were also blocked by anti-pipeline protesters near Smithers B.C. and near Belleville Ontario where Via (passenger) Rail officials say so far over 100 trains have been cancelled in one of the country’s busiest corridors with over 19,000 passengers affected.
Canadian Pacific tracks near Toronto have also been blocked. A Canadian National railways executive said the Belleville protest has severe economic repercussions affecting shipments of goods across the country including grain, propane and steel amongst others. A police official is expected to arrive this (Tuesday) morning to re-read an injunction against the demonstration and move the protesters back from the track. Protesters say they won’t respect the order until, police get off Wet’suwet’en land.
Pam Palmater, a Mi’kmaq lawyer and the chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University in Toronto said she believed the protests and occupations would likely continue, unless there is change.
- CBC: Feb 10/20: Hundreds rally in Metro Vancouver and Victoria in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en
- CTV: B Cousins: Feb 10/20: Anti-pipeline rallies supporting Wet’suwet’en block train, ferry routes
- Financial Post: E. Jackson: Feb 10/20: Pipeline protest expansion makes waves across Canada
- New York Times: I. Austen: Feb 10/20: Canadian Police Move Against Pipeline Blockades, Arresting Dozens