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NEWS: 2,200 rally in Comox against the Northern Gateway pipeline

Council of Canadians Comox Valley chapter activist Gwyn Frayne reports, “We had over 2,200 people at our outside rally today (against the Northern Gateway pipeline). Hundreds of young people went viral on Facebook and came on bikes. Young artists made huge paintings of the Great Bear Rain Forest animals. The speakers were amazing. …The rain, luckily held off until the end of that. And then we went inside the neighbouring school, where over 500 watched a short film about oil and asked questions of our panel speakers. …We had busloads from down island and up island and carloads from Tofino. (Chapter activists) June Ross (from Nanaimo) and Richard Hagensen (from Campbell River) came.”

The Comox Valley Record reports, “More than 700 people braved a chilly Saturday afternoon in Comox to protest the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, as a review panel continued to listen to oral hearings from residents inside the recreation centre. With a heavy police presence surrounding the crowd, people from Nanaimo, Victoria, the Gulf Islands and the K’omox First Nations came together in a peaceful protest to sing, chat, dance and voice their opinion against the proposed pipeline.”

In mid-January, the Comox Valley chapter submitted its comments on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to the review panel. Frayne wrote, “Protecting our environment includes our forest lands, our rivers and our ocean. Putting a pipeline across the first two and tankers across the latter will put the future in jeopardy. The land, water and animals are all at risk if we allow a pipeline to transport oil to tankers. The Council of Canadians Comox Valley Chapter supports the First Nations which are trying to safeguard their traditional territories. They are trying to save their lands and their livelihoods and they have put themselves on the line for their principles. In the process they are teaching all of us how democracy could work.”

Yesterday, CBC reported, “In Thursday’s budget, the government announced a streamlining of environmental assessments so that major projects receive only one review lasting no longer than 24 months. The new, shortened deadlines would be applied retroactively to projects that are already being reviewed. …That could mean the Northern Gateway review would have to wrap up in May of this year. That is a full year-and-a-half before it was scheduled to end.”

That report added, “‘This incredibly stupid move on the part of the Harper government will only serve to expedite the battle in the courtrooms and on the land itself,’ said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. …This ‘pipeline is going to traverse the territories of literally dozens and dozens of First Nations. And all of them have said very clearly that they do not support the Northern Gateway project and that they will do everything that they can to stop this project,’ added Phillip.”

The Council of Canadians opposes the Enbridge Gateway pipeline project.