While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was campaigning for action to address climate change, few could have imagined a course that would lead to the purchase of an oil pipeline with taxpayers’ money.
Those sentiments were reflected Monday, when across the nation so-called snap protests in front of the offices of Liberal Members of Parliament were called. In Amherst, a small, but informed, group of concerned citizens from Cumberland County and neighbouring Sackville, N.B., stood on the steps leading to MP Bill Casey’s office to air their opposition of the government’s decision to buy the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder Morgan Canada.
“We object to spending $4.5 billion on a pipeline that was valued at $5.5 million dollars to prop up a sunset industry, violate first nations’ rights, for trying to force this through British Columbia where some of the first nations have approved it but many have not,” local protest organizer Deirdre Wear said. “It just feels like risking the environment for short-term gains and we don’t even have a buyer for the bitumen.”
Wear was joined by a handful of peaceful protestors on the steps of the Credit Union Business Innovation Centre – a.k.a. the “old town hall” – where MP Casey’s has a constituency office. With them, Wear brought a petition with 100,000 signatures from across the country opposing the purchase.
The money, Wear said, could be spent better.
“We’d rather see the money spent on higher priorities like health care, renewable energies, getting clean water to first nations, housing, veterans. There are so many things that are higher priority than buying a 65-year-old, leaking pipeline… we would like to see this money invested in projects that benefit all Canadians and create jobs everywhere, not just in Alberta,” Wear said.
In use since 1953, the pipeline running between Alberta and British Columbia became a contentious issue in 2013 when Kinder Morgan put forward an application to add a second pipeline between the two provinces. Largely supported by oil industry heavyweights like BP, Suncor and Imperial Oil, opposition to the expansion singled out Kinder Morgan’s lack of proposed spill prevention and environment impact, while the British Columbia government offered conditional support contingent on a billion-dollar revenue-sharing agreement. Failing that, the two provinces imposed sanctions on one another while Kinder Morgan suspended non-essential work on the pipeline.
Many feel the federal government’s decision to buy the pipeline as a bailout for the billion-dollar oil giant. Bruce Phinney, a sitting councilor with the Town of Sackville, joined Monday’s protest to add his voice and challenge the federal government’s use of the public funds.
“I look at it in the sense that it’s taxpayer’s dollar and they are not listening to the people,” Phinney said. “There are a lot of people opposed to it and they are just turning around and saying ‘We’re going to do it whether you like it or not.’”
Long-term, Phinney says the government’s decision is only benefiting a small segment.
“The people they are really looking after are in positions of authority and power and with money, putting more money in the pockets of the wealthy,” Phinney said. “I think this money they are using to buy this should be used for renewable and green energy.”
In a recent Forum Research poll of 969 Canadians, 52 per cent of respondents said they disapprove of the federal government buying the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Canadians Not Sold On Trans Mountain Purchase http://poll.forumresearch.com/post/2849/transmountain/