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Council signs letter in support of Burnaby resistance against Trans Mountain pipeline

Burnaby protest

The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with those who are facing a $5.6 million lawsuit in a Vancouver courtroom today for evicting a survey team for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline from a Burnaby conservation area on October 29.

This morning, we joined with eighty-one community, environmental and labour groups in an open letter that says we stand with the Caretakers of Burnaby Mountain and Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion. The letter states, “These caretakers and residents should not be facing an injunction or a multimillion-dollar lawsuit by a corporate energy giant. Given the federal government’s failure to respond to residents, to Indigenous communities at the source of Tar Sands destruction and along the proposed pipeline route, and to municipal concerns, we laud these protectors for their bravery in taking a stand against Kinder Morgan.”

Along with the Council of Canadians, other signatories to the letter include Unifor, Idle No More and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

Texas-based Kinder Morgan is proposing to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline from northern Alberta to the British Columbia coast to increase the pipeline’s capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. The pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands through Jasper National Park, into the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, across the Vedder Fan aquifer and the municipality of Chilliwack’s protected groundwater zone, then across the Fraser River and to the Westridge Marine Terminal at Burrard Inlet. Once there, the bitumen would be loaded onto export tankers. 

This morning, CBC News reported, “The energy giant [Kinder Morgan] is in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver [today] seeking an injunction to stop the protesters, and suing five people for close to $6 million for their part in opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline and terminal expansion. Meanwhile, the protesters are trying to prevent Kinder Morgan from conducting survey work on the area’s municipal park, Burnaby Mountain — the company’s preferred route for the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.”

“Prof. Lynne Quarmby of Simon Fraser University believes Kinder Morgan is using the courts to try to intimidate people such as herself from speaking out. She hopes the province will reinstate legislation that is designed to prevent so-called SLAPP suits — or strategic lawsuits against public participation.”

The Council of Canadians has supported similar anti-SLAPP legislation in Ontario.

“[The National Energy Board] ruled that Burnaby can’t stop the company’s activities because the geotechnical work is needed by the board, so it can make recommendations to the federal government about whether the project should proceed. …The protests on Burnaby Mountain followed an announcement by the City of Burnaby, in which it said that it plans to appeal a National Energy Board decision granting the energy giant access to the municipal conservation area.”

SFU professor Stephen Collis, who is with Caretakers of Burnaby Mountain (and a Council of Canadians Delta-Richmond chapter activist) says, “The Kinder Morgan vs Caretakers of Burnaby Mountain Case is an open attack on democracy.”

Our Vancouver-based organizer Brigette DePape has commented, “How we react to this is critical for setting a precedent for how we react to Harper’s dirty energy and pipeline agenda across the country. We can show oil and gas companies that whether it be on the ground with our bodies, or in the courthouse with our right to protest, we refuse to let these pipelines pass.”

Further reading
Burnaby Mountain: Latest wall of opposition against tar sands (November 4 column by Harsha Walia)
Top 5 ways you can support the Kinder Morgan pipeline blockade (November 3 blog by Brigette DePape)
Kinder Morgan strikes back against defenders of Burnaby conservation area (October 31 blog)
Residents block Kinder Morgan from Burnaby conservation area! (October 30 blog)