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Energy East: Our Risk – Their Reward Campaign Update

The wall of opposition to the 1.1 million barrel per day Energy East project continues to grow all across the pipeline route. Heading into the summer months, here are some exciting campaign updates and next steps.

Atlantic region

End of the Line

Things have really been heating up in New Brunswick. TransCanada has been repeatedly called on to have public meetings with an open Q/A. So far TransCanada has refused opting instead for their tightly scripted trade-show-style ‘open houses.’ This is further eroding their social license.

In a province often considered the centre of support for Energy East, photo journalist Robert van Waarden recently documented growing opposition. The project features Barry Harrigan, a Red Head resident, fisherman David Thompson and Wolastoq Clan Mother Alma Brooks. You can watch the videos.

On May 30, over 700 joined a march to the ‘end of the line’ hosted by the volunteer-run Red Head Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association. This is a small community faced with a massive oil storage facility holding over 7 million barrels of oil literally across the streets from homes. At least 115 tankers would ply nearby coastal waters from the proposed new massive export port. The critically endangered North Atlantic right whales live in the Bay and are already vulnerable to ship strikes and low-frequency ship noise, both of which Energy East threatens to worsen. There was a significant Indigenous delegation from across the region that joined on May 30 and presented a water declaration, conducted a smoke and water ceremony.  photo credit: Robert van Waarden

People linked arms on the shores of the Bay of Fundy drawing a line in the sand against the project. You can watch the wrap up video and find out more here. TransCanada definitely took notice, going so far as to fly out one of their top PR people to attempt to address local concerns.

The Irving-owned Telegraph Journal refused to publish an op-ed by local Red Head resident Lynaya Astephen explaining why people are increasingly speaking out against Energy East. The Irvings are partnering with TransCanada on the Saint John (Red Head) export port. You can read the op-ed here.


Local groups in Ontario successfully mobilized hundreds to participate in the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) Energy East review and submit comments to the process. We are anticipating the OEB will release its final report soon, compiling the findings from the reports they commissioned and the feedback from public consultations. You can read the Council of Canadians submission. Alongside partners in Ontario, we are preparing to respond and hope the final report that will inform Ontario’s participation in the National Energy Board review adequately reflects the clear concerns and opposition expressed in the consultations.  

In Quebec (and beyond), people are celebrating the first concrete                                                              win against the Energy East project – the cancelling of the proposed Cacouna port that would have seen tankers in waters home to beluga whales. While TransCanada denies it, it could not be clearer that this was the result of widespread, organized opposition, which the Council of Canadians was proud to support. This decision forced TransCanada to push back the expected start date for the project by 2 years!    

Recent studies have further confirmed what the Energy East: When the pipeline spills…. report identifies – that Energy East poses a serious risk to drinking water sources in Quebec. The Montreal Metropolitan Community hired a firm that found a spill from the pipeline would present a real risk the drinking water of the Montreal area.

Prairies region

The Council of Canadians held its third Energy East, Our Risk: Their Reward public speaking tour, this time visiting Winnipeg, Regina, Swift Current and Moose Jaw. These tour feature compelling speakers presenting critical information about the risks presented by the project. They aim to support and expand local opposition. The tour was a resounding success, distributing more than 650 window signs, 16 news stories, 11 meetings with First Nation communities, municipal and provincial elected officials and staff, ranchers, farmers and local organizers, and much more. Check out our wrap up blog, which includes some next steps. 

West meets EastGeraldine and Jasmine Thomas at the Red Head End of the Line March, kicking off the West Meets East tour. Photo credit Robert van Waarden

Spanning all regions is the inspirational West meets East tour has Geraldine and Jasmine Thomas of the Yinka Dene Alliance meeting with First Nation communities along the Energy East path. They are sharing the story of how they came to understand the dangers associated with the Northern Gateway pipeline and how they built a wall of opposition to the pipeline when they created the Save the Fraser Declaration, signed now by over 130 First Nations in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, and North Dakota. You can find out more at www.westmeetseast.ca including informative briefing documents like this one which breaks down many of the myths behind the false pipeline vs. rail debate. 

Moving forward 

Want to get more involved in the campaign? Get in touch with your local Council of Canadians chapter and find out what’s happening in your community. If you don’t have a chapter near you, email inquiries@canadians.org to help find the closest local group.

Put July 4 and July 5 in your calendars! People across the country are coming together on the July 4 day of action on tar sands and pipelines. Actions range from canoe flotilla’s to rallies and parades, all aimed at sending a clear message to our leaders that we are ready for real climate action.

If you can make it to Toronto, be there on July 5 to participate in a historic march for Jobs, Justice and Climate. Happening during the Pan American Climate Summit and an Economic Summit, the march is bringing together an unprecedented alliance amongst workers, environmentalists, social justice organizations. Thousands of people will take to the streets to call for an economy that reflects our values, creates good jobs, and tackles climate change. Find out more here, including information on car pooling and organizing a bus in your community.

Quebec recently confirmed it is moving ahead with an environmental review of the Energy East pipeline conducted by the BAPE. The panel of experts will be formed by the end of June. This will be an important mobilizing moment for opposition to the project in Quebec – stay tuned for opportunities to participate.

Are you in New Brunswick? Add your email to www.noenergyeastNB.ca for regional campaign updates, in the coming months the Council’s New Brunswick Energy East Campaigner will be doing more outreach to communities and landowners along the pipeline path.  

Heading into the fall, expect more from our campaign, including new research and materials further exposing TransCanada’s poor pipeline safety track record and the risks to waterways along the route and multiple levels of engagement around the forthcoming National Energy Board review of Energy East (hint: things going to get interesting…).