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Montreal chapter hosts Greenpeace energy campaigner at public forum

(L-R) Abdul Pirani, Patrick Bonin, Robert McBryde, Jerry Chen. Photo by Sally Livingston.

The Council of Canadians Montreal chapter hosted Greenpeace campaigner Patrick Bonin at a public forum at Concordia University on September 7.

As noted in their Facebook outreach, “The Montreal Chapter of the Council of Canadians is pleased to invite you and your friends to a bilingual conference by Mr. Patrick Bonin, Quebec analyst and activist and Campaigner for Climate and Energy at Greenpeace Canada. Mr. Bonin will speak about the recent situation in Quebec with respect to NEB/ONÉ and TransCanada’s Energy East Pipelines and his perspectives for the future. Patrick has a Masters degree in Environmental Science from UQAM and a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from the University of Sherbrooke. He has vast experience in Quebec and has been one of the leading spokesman in the local media on environmental issues affecting Quebec and Canadian citizens.”

Chapter activist Abdul Pirani tells us, “We had a good audience of about 17 people at our first chapter meeting after the holidays to listen to Patrick. He did not disappoint the enthusiastic listeners as he talked for almost an hour about the COP21 climate change talks in Paris and the irreconcilable differences between continued operation of tar sands and the Energy East pipeline. As a result of the internal politics of the National Energy Board, there were disruptions at the hearings in Montreal on August 29 and they were ultimately postponed for an indefinite period. The population of Quebec including the City of Montreal seem to have lost confidence in the Board.”

This past week, the Trudeau government indicated that it will ratify the Paris climate accord (agreed to at COP21 this past December) by the end of this year. While that non-binding accord commits countries to limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (and further aspires to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius), concerns have been raised that the pledges made by countries to date would mean global temperatures increases of closer to 4 degrees Celsius. The Trudeau government has not yet strengthened the weak emission reduction targets set by the former Conservative government, but have pledged to do so before the COP22 climate summit in Morocco this coming November.

It is also our view that the 1.1 million barrel per day Energy East pipeline cannot be approved given its incompatibility with the need to reduce carbon emissions and not exceed the 1.5 degrees Celsius target. If approved, that pipeline could generate up to 32 million tonnes of upstream carbon emissions each year. The pipeline would produce an even greater amount of downstream emissions. The Trudeau government is expected to make its decision on this pipeline by June 2018.

And following the August 29 disruption at the National Energy Board hearing on the Energy East pipeline in Montreal, the three review panel commissioners have now resigned. They were under pressure to do so given two legal challenges and their admission that they had met privately with former Quebec premier Jean Charest, now a paid consultant with TransCanada. While the commissioners had initially stated that the Energy East pipeline had not been discussed with Charest, they later admitted that it was discussed. There is no word yet on when the NEB hearings will resume.

Beyond having called for the resignation of the NEB commissioners, we have further argued that the federal government should develop a review process that respects free, prior and informed consent for Indigenous peoples, and that includes a credible climate test that takes into account Canada’s carbon budget as well as upstream and downstream climate emissions.

For more on our energy and climate justice campaign, please click here.