With the deadline looming for the Trans Mountain expansion project, dozens of anti-pipeline activists rallied against the Liberal government’s “blank cheque” to Kinder Morgan on Parliament Hill on Tuesday.
“It’s with great disappointment from all across the country that we see the government willing to take taxpayers’ dollars to bail out a project that simply should not be built,” said Chief Robert Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, in a speech over the phone to a crowd of about 60 people.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau recently announced that the federal government would shell out money to help create 15,000 jobs and salvage the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Kinder Morgan has set a May 31 deadline for the B.C., Alberta and federal governments to come to an agreement on the divisive project. At that point, the Texas-based company has threatened to pull out.
“We need to respect Indigenous rights,” said Maude Barlow, honorary chairperson of the Council of Canadians, who addressed the crowd alongside Green Party leader Elizabeth May and her NDP counterpart Jagmeet Singh. “We need to protect water, our water is at risk. The planet is running out of clean, fresh water.”
Singh called the Trans Mountain consultation process with Indigenous communities “a sham.”
“That consultation was not genuine, a decision had already been made,” he said, “and this is not respectful of reconciliation.”
A pro-pipeline rally is scheduled for Wednesday morning in Ottawa.
Meanwhile, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said she would not attend a meeting of western premiers in Yellowknife this week.
The development of a national pharmacare program is likely to be the main focus, but Notley said her “time is better spent” in Alberta, working to push through the Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline expansion.
“In representing Alberta at the table, we want to make something very clear,” she said. “If we want to make sure that every Canadian can get the medications they need, we need to be able to pay for it.
“While they are at the premiers meeting talking about how to spend that kind of money, I’ll be here in Alberta talking about how we can earn that kind of money.”
If the pipeline goes through, it will triple the amount of diluted bitumen flowing from Alberta to the coastline.