Good Sunday Morning
Happy Passover! Chag Pesach Sameach!
And Happy Palm Sunday! As RuPaul might say “Can I get a Hosanna up in here?”
Yesterday, on the first day of Passover, Annamie Paul posted a lovely sentiment. “This year’s Passover serves as a reminder that the world has overcome plagues before and will again. In a time of COVID19, it is a very comforting thought.”
This Monday was an anniversary for me – third anniversary of getting arrested protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline. That early Friday March 27th morning, I
left the dais in the ballroom of the Vancouver Fairmont Hotel, where I had been one of those addressing a crowd of a thousand or so, along with former Mayor
Gregor Robertson, Premier John Horgan, former Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, among other dignitaries. Through bizarre twist of fate, I had spoken on
behalf of the Parliament of Canada at the annual B.C. Prayer Breakfast. As I hurried off, I casually mentioned to one or two of the VIPs that I was off to
Burnaby Mountain where I might be arrested. Eyebrows rose. Gregor said “Good for you.” Lynne Quarmby, dear friend, scientist and genius writer, was waiting for me in the lobby. She quipped she felt like the getaway driver. Off we went to join the protest. (please buy her new book Watermelon Snow
Three years later, much has changed. Kinder Morgan has fled, laughing all the way to the Texas bank where it deposited the ransom money from hijacking its own project - $4.4 billion of our money. And the outrageous pipeline continues to be built, now owned by all of us, a Canadian citizenry of (largely) unwilling owners.
Trudeau has committed to spending a further $13 billion to complete the project. The Parliamentary Budget Officer made it clear in December 2020 that if the
Liberal administration were to take meaningful climate action, the TMX project would lose billions of dollars. In other words, its profitability relies on betting
against the climate. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trans-mountain-pbo-
Their cynical exit strategy is to “sell” the pipeline to First Nations – or at least to some indigenous led pipeline consortium. I keep praying, “never...” but my brain
says “any day now…” Expect it before the next election.
The outrage remains, but the news media has moved on. Later today I hope many others will join me at a Dogwood Initiative-organized, distanced event along Dallas Road, protesting TMX. I wonder if it will get any news media interest. The months long protest in Burnaby of courageous tree-sitters, like Professor Tim Takaro and Timothee Govare, has had scant attention.
In early August, they erected a platform high in a stand of trees next to the BNSF (Burlington North and Sante Fe) railway at Holmes Creek, which drains into the Brunette River, near North Road. Since then, they have faced increasingly aggressive policing. Their camp has been disassembled, scaffolding removed, and they have persevered. Their belongings have been stolen by security crews. And both the real police, RCMP, and private police working for the Texas based rail company BNSF have “arrested” protesters and handed out fines. I have written both our Minister of Justice and Minister of Public Safety to ask under what authority private police from the US are fining Canadians. No answer yet.
Recently, an RCMP officer accosted a 79-year-old woman, who was walking away from the protest site alone, forcing her into a patrol car and questioning her at a Burnaby detachment, though officers denied that she was under arrest. Her version of events is chilling. She told me she had reached for her phone to dial 911 as she was manhandled by a cop, realizing there was some irony in thinking she should call one for help.
In addition to the private BNSF cops and the RCMP, TMX security guards are also becoming increasing aggressive with land protectors, claiming falsely that they had spiked trees as a justification for treating them more roughly. One protester was recently injured as the security forces unchained him from a piece of equipment.
COVID is certainly a factor in quelling protests, as Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage triumphantly proclaimed: “Now is a great time to be building a pipeline because you can't have protests of more than 15 people.”
But I get angrier all the time. This week in the Fisheries Committee, we were focussing on the dire peril facing all BC Pacific Salmon populations. The evidence from Dr. Marvin Rosenau (BCIT), Dr. Emiliano Di Cicco (Pacific Salmon Foundation) and Karen Wristen (Living Oceans) was compelling and primarily focused on the efforts by DFO to suppress science on the diseases and sea lice that dramatically reduce the survival of smolts anywhere near open-pen aquaculture. But I veered away from toxic fish factories to ask Dr. Rosenau what he thought of the impacts on salmon and salmon habitat of TMX construction.
Back in 2016, he had testified to the NEB about the threats to salmon from construction. At the time, he told the National Observer that it looked as though
Kinder Morgan planned to “flop the pipeline” on top of fragile streams and riparian zones, and cover them in trees and shrubs, rather than build underneath streams to protect local fish populations.
I asked him if the work was being monitored. His answer was discouraging: “The fact is we were basically over-ruled… it seems to have just been steam-rolled…We were pressing for trenchless crossings of streams, riparian vegetation on either bank of the stream and hardening of the banks…[it] is a very serious issue.. It’s a big deal, in my view, but I think we just lost on that one.” (March 24, 2021 FOPO)
Meanwhile, the work of protecting fish and fish habitat, as well as Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) due to the construction and operation of the TMX pipeline, has been removed from DFO authority. How I missed this at the time, I do not know, but since 2013, the National Energy Board – now Canadian Energy Regulator (CER)– has been given the statutory responsibilities of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans along pipeline routes by Memorandum of Understanding.
And since 2017, the CER is also responsible for SRKW protections. Honestly. Can anyone believe that “regulatory capture” runs so deep that they sign MOUs to register surrender?
Here are the MOUs for reference:
The protests now focus on the local threats of the pipeline and expanded tank farm in Burnaby. I met yesterday with the SFU student society. The students are very worried about their safety with only one escape route down the mountain. I am afraid I left them even more worried when I shared this bit of brilliant work from folk singer-activist Bob Bossin. If you do not already know about why the Burnaby Fire Department is so very opposed to TMX, take 10 minutes to watch this:
Protests matter. We must not abandon the hope – the rational and responsible belief – that we can stop the squandering of billions of dollars on this – as I described it to Ministers Lametti and Blair - “climate-killing, indigenous-rights violating, environmental disaster of a pipeline.”
Just as we must stop the logging of our old growth – finding any way we can to support the protesters at Fairy Creek. By the way, On April 1 the court will rule on the logging company’s request for an injunction.
And more than ever, we have to be super-COVID careful. It is clear that the race between variants and vaccines is not going well. Thanks to Sonia Furstenau for being very clear. We need more and clearer public health protections.
Please join me for the events below. Today’s distanced gathering and upcoming virtual events. We may be sick of zoom (I am!) but at least we can gather. We can encourage each. We can fight for our future.
TODAY!!! Protest TMX!!
When: Sunday, 28 March
Time: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Where: Dallas Road - from Clover Point to Douglas Street
Meet up: Dallas Road & Cook Street
Tonight! SGI Greens Book Club Sunday, March 28th. at 7pm. on zoom.
James Marshall, the author of WHAT DOES GREEN MEAN? THE HISTORY,
PEOPLE, AND IDEAS OF THE GREEN PARTY IN CANADA AND ABROAD
will be joining us to discuss his book. There is still time to register!
March 31st, 2021 01:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Topic: Climate Crisis Federal Budget?
Join us to find out what informed, Green Party MP Elizabeth May and experienced
CCPA economist Marc Lee want to hear on Budget Day ... and what they expect!
Register in advance for this webinar:
BC Greens Event- Saving our Ancient Forests!
Join leader Sonia Furstenau and MLA Adam Olsen, along with forestry
experts, for a town hall event on April 7th from 7:00–8:15 PM PDT as they
discuss the inherent value of our old-growth forests and what actions are
needed to save them.
April 9 - For Saanich-Gulf Island Greens - Join me to celebrate!!
MY NOMINATION AS THE GREEN CANDIDATE FOR SAANICH-GULF
Please join beloved author William Deverell, BC Green MLA Adam Olsen,
and Elizabeth for a virtual wine and cheese to celebrate and have a fun
WHEN: Friday, April 9th, 2021, 07:00 PM Vancouver
FEATURING: Elizabeth May MP, William Deverell, and Adam Olsen MLA
Register in advance for this meeting:
And please sign these petitions!
Stop weapons sales to Saudi Arabia (sponsor Jenica Atwin):
Insist on real climate action to hold to 1.5 degrees (sponsor Jenica Atwin):
Calling for meaningful action to address the housing crisis (sponsor Paul Manly):
Focus on local violence prevention (sponsor Paul Manly):
Support for COVID “long-haulers” (sponsor: Elizabeth May):
Call for Ombudsperson investigation of Recon-Africa fracking plans for Okavango Delta (sponsor: Elizabeth May):