Skip to content

NEWS: 14+ chapters participate in Earth Day actions

People listen to Jessica Ernst in Prince Albert. Photo by Rick Sawa.

More than 14 Council of Canadians chapters participated in Earth Day events across the country this weekend. They raised concerns about the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, fracking, Plan Nord, Harper’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Accord, the Line 9 oil pipeline, and other key environmental issues. Some of the news reports are noted below:

The Province reports, “Opposition to the expansion of oil giant Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline reached a fever pitch Sunday as thousands of people jammed Commercial Drive to rally for Earth Day. The public gathering is the first of its kind since the April 12 announcement that the Texas-based company will seek to more than double the amount of crude oil that flows from Alberta to Burnaby, to 850,000 barrels a day from the present 300,000. …For many people at the Commercial Drive rally, which culminated in a daylong festival at Grandview Park, the heightened risk of an oil spill and an increase in human-caused climate change is their chief opposition to the Kinder Morgan proposal. …Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has said he is firmly against the proposed expansion. On Sunday, he told the crowd Vancouver’s mandate to become the world’s greenest city does not fit with a ‘massive expansion’ of oil exports in Vancouver. …Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, whose traditional territory surrounds the Burrard Inlet, said the first nation is opposed to more tankers in the region’s waterways. …The rally was organized by Youth for Climate Justice Now, made up of students from the Vancouver region. One of the volunteers, Windermere Secondary Grade 11 student Andrea Novakovic, said she hopes such events will inform and inspire young people.”

The Montreal Gazette reports, “A crowd of 250,000 people or more (perhaps up to 300,000 people) inched its way through downtown and onto Mount Royal Sunday afternoon in what was Quebec’s largest-ever Earth Day march.” CJAD Montreal notes, “The marchers gathered early this afternoon at the Place des Festivals, near Place des Arts, and then made their way up Bleury St./Park Ave. to Mount Royal park. At one point, the street was jammed with people the entire length of the planned route.” CBC adds, “The march was so massive that, more than two hours after it began, a large crowd was still waiting to begin at the starting point.” The Gazette article highlights, “Sunday’s event was a peaceful, family-oriented rally that drew activists from around the province, who had come with a variety of complaints about the federal and provincial governments’ handling of environmental issues. They waved Quebec flags, carried banners that read ‘La terre n’est pas à vendre’ and ‘Harper = dictateur’ and blasted Quebec Premier Jean Charest for his Plan Nord project for oil and gas exploration in the north.”

The Daily News reports, “At Maffeo-Sutton Park, the Council of Canadians held a beach party and potluck. The theme of their Earth Day celebrations was halting oil pipelines to Vancouver which could conceivably result in a massive oil spill contaminating B.C. beaches. …Paul Manly, one of the coordinators of the local chapter of the Council of Canadians, said his organization wants to raise awareness of the potential damage that could result if Vancouver becomes a massive distribution shipping centre for tar sands oil and natural gas. ‘Earth Day is a celebration of the ecology that we all take for granted and it’s also a day to raise awareness about some of the threats that could seriously threaten the quality of life of people on the Island’, he said. If the port of Vancouver becomes a major distribution centre for crude oil to Asia and other destinations, ‘it’s not a matter of if but when there will be a tanker spill’, said Manly. ‘It doesn’t make any sense at all.’ Citing the Exxon Valdez incident in Prince William Sound, Manly said it wouldn’t take long for any tanker incident in the Georgia Strait to start contaminating local beaches. ‘If there was a major accident out of Vancouver, it would take just four days for oil to be washing up in Nanaimo and about two weeks before that oil contaminated the coast lines of all the Gulf Islands. It would be a disaster.'”

The Guelph Mercury reports, “On Sunday, a small group gathered for Mother Earth Day at 10 Carden on Carden Street, organized by the Guelph chapter of Council of Canadians. Musician and activist James Gordon was on hand with his guitar and vocals. Norah Chaloner said one focus of the event was to raise awareness of recent developments related to the Line 9 oil pipeline that runs from Sarnia to Montreal. Enbridge wants to reverse the flow of the pipeline and use it to transport a more corrosive type of oil originating from the oilsands of northern Alberta. Chaloner said repurposing Line 9 would increase pressure in the pipeline, thereby increasing the risk of oil spills and environmental contamination across Ontario.”

Prince Albert
And this past Friday, the Prince Albert Daily Herald reported, “Environmental activism will blend with good fun, during this weekend’s annual Earth Day festivities. ‘It’s open to everybody’, Prince Albert chapter of the Council of Canadians representative Rick Sawa said, noting the importance of the weekend’s environmental theme. ‘If we don’t take care of the environment, nothing else really matters. If we can’t breath or drink the water, nothing matters.’ A public family-friendly music show is set to take place on Saturday, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at city hall. (Then on Sunday) anti-fracking advocate Jessica Ernst (will be) speaking at the Grace Mennonite Church from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. ‘Fracking is contaminating the water everywhere they go,’ she said, referencing hydraulic fracturing — a process where sand, water and chemicals are blasted into rock formations. This mining practice pollutes drinking water, Ernst said, citing her hometown of Rosebud, Alberta, as a victim. …Asked by Sawa to speak in Prince Albert this weekend, Ernst said the decision to accept was an easy one, as the more people she can warn about the dangers of fracking the better.”

As noted on our website at http://canadians.org/energy/issues/pipelines/action2012.html#events, Council of Canadians chapters also participated in Earth Day events in: Brockville, Toronto, Windsor (Ontario); Golden, Lillooet, Nelson, Victoria, Whistler (British Columbia), and Winnipeg (Manitoba).

Additionally, as you will read in her blog, Mexico City-based Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero Arena participated in a picnic with more than 300 people at the River de la Piedad in downtown Mexico City. She writes, “Why is this such a peculiar space to make a picnic? Well… because the River de la Piedad, as so many others in this city, has been piped for more than 50 years. Today, the space is actually an urban highway that goes by the name of Viaducto. …The restoration of Mexico City’s water cycle is indispensable for the future of the city. This is a sane and necessary proposal.”