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Activists to challenge Energy East during May 2016 municipal elections in New Brunswick

D'Arcy speaks at the Peace and Friendship Alliance gathering this past weekend. Photo by Joan Green.

D’Arcy speaks at the Peace and Friendship Alliance gathering this past weekend. Photo by Joan Green.

Municipal elections will take place in New Brunswick on May 9, 2016.

The Council of Canadians is working within the Peace and Friendship Alliance to have an effective intervention against the proposed 1.1 million barrels per day Energy East pipeline at that time.

The Peace and Friendship Alliance, which was formed in March 2015, is an alliance between Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies. The Alliance includes several Wolastoq (Maliseet) bands including St. Mary’s First Nation, Woodstock First Nation, Tobique First Nation, and Madawaska First Nation; Mi’kmaq representation; the Council of Canadians, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and Stop the Energy East Pipeline – Halifax; Red Head community residents, organic farmers and numerous others who are opposed to the Energy East project.

The mission statement of the Alliance states: “We are the peoples of the Peace and Friendship Treaties: the Wabanaki Peoples and allies in Canada and the United States, and beyond. The Peace and Friendship Alliance is concerned about corporate control of resources, committed to protecting the land, air and water for all our relations and for future generations, and taking united action for a healthy planet.”

This past Saturday (Dec. 5), Council of Canadians Energy East-New Brunswick campaigner Mark D’Arcy and members of the Council of Canadians Fredericton chapter participated in a Peace and Friendship Alliance meeting at the St. Mary’s First Nation Cultural Centre in Fredericton.

It was the Alliance’s fourth meeting since it was founded earlier this year.

At the meeting, D’Arcy presented on the goal of electing progressive municipal councillors who would challenge the Energy East pipeline. One way to achieve that would be to organize all-candidates debates and raise questions about the pipeline, its impact on the land, water and climate, Indigenous rights and on landowners.

TransCanada, the company that wants to build the pipeline, has argued that Energy East will mean more tax revenue to local governments, employment for local workers and business for local suppliers in New Brunswick. Saint John city council officially supports Energy East, and even passed a resolution in November 2014 stating the project is of “utmost importance” to the city. In September 2015, CBC reported that a former chair of the National Energy Board had been hired by the City of Saint John to make its case at the NEB hearings on the pipeline.

It will be important to provide a critical narrative that challenges this agenda and for candidates to know there is widespread public opposition to the project.

In the new year, the Alliance is also looking at province-wide tree painting along pipeline route and information sessions during the Peace and Friendship Alliance educational caravan to communities.

After the meeting, chapter activist Joan Green commented, “What an absolutely amazing group of friends of Mother Earth!”