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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Canadians rally against tar sands pipelines to defend a safe climate

Last Saturday thousands of Canadians took to the streets marching and rallying for a safe climate, and against tar sands expansion and more pipelines.

From coast to coast to Repulse Bay, Nunavut on the Arctic cirle, people gathered in over 180 events. Many concentrated on opposing the Enbridge Pipelines and tar sands expansion, on fracking or the more general threat of climate change, and the anti-climate policies of the Harper Government.

The protests were co-ordinated by Defend our Climate. Many were organised at the local level on short notice as word spread of the national action. But the protests were also connected to the organising of climate protests in Australia that drew in excess of 60,000 people, with an estimated 30,000 people attending a rally in Melbourne against the climate denial policies of the new Australian Government lead by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

From Defend our Climate Blog: Charlottetown | First timers step up in Halifax | Oka is Defending our Climate | North Bay Ontario comes out strong | Ottawa: Bringing the wall of opposition to Harper’s doorstep | Ottawa: Canadians stand with the Philippines today | Solidarity in Winnipeg | Nunavut braves a blizzard to defend our climate | A pipeline through the heart of Toronto | Edmonton’s barrel blockade | Looks like the start of a prairie fire | Awareness builds along 2 new routes in Ontario and Quebec | Resistance in the Interior | Vancouver: National Day of Action Wraps on the West Coast

Many of the protests had significant numbers of First Nations people involved. Half of the 200 people at a rally in Prince George, BC were First Nations. Events in Edmonton and Calgary were led by First Nations, as was one of the largest, in Oka, Quebec just outside of Montreal.

Watch Ellen Gabriel on Youtube at Peaceful Protest to oppose the Pipelines in Oka Park on Traditional Kanien'kehĂ :ka Territory.

A recent survey sponsored by Canada 2020 and the University of Montreal found that 59% of Canadians think climate change should be a top priority and 76% say that Canada should sign on to a new international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Instead Canada has applauded Australia's new Prime Minister in his attempt to repeal the Australian carbon tax and increasing obstructive actions to international climate negotions and climate action.

"Canada applauds the decision by prime minister Abbott to introduce legislation to repeal Australia's carbon tax. The Australian prime minister's decision will be noticed around the world and sends an important message," the formal statement from Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, said in the formal statement.

Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol in 2011 and fails to meet its own international emissions to cut greenhouse gas emissions due to exploitation of the Alberta tar sands.

In the capital city of Ottawa 150 people gathered on Parliament Hill outside Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office.

Vancouver No Enbridge Pipeline rally draws thousands

Over 3,000 people gathered for a rally at the False Creek waterfront outside of Science World to protest and oppose Enbridge's proposed northern gateway pipeline. It was the biggest anti-pipeline rally Vancouver has ever seen.

Christy Clark, the Premier of British Columbia and Alberta Premier Alison Redford reportedly reached a "framework agreement" on November 5 to allow new pipelines in British Columbia and Clark has agreed to join Redford’s "national energy strategy."

Art Sterritt, First Nations spokesperson, spoke at the rally outlining the threat of Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline:

"Northern Gateway has already gutted environmental legislation throughout Canada. Our Prime Minister and his colleagues have tried to make a pathway across this country that will ruin all of our streams, all of our fish, and everything else. For what? They say this is in the national interest. Do you know that this oil that comes out of the tar sands of Alberta represents a mear 2 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of Canada? How can it be in the national interest to jeopardise all of the fish and agriculture, in the rivers and the salmon and the ocean in British Columbia so that Alberta can gain a little bit more equity to cover the $6 billion debt they have because of oil having saturated that province. That is what we are being offered ladies and gentlemen. That is the new culture being proposed for British Columbia. We live in a province that is self sufficient. We don't need oil over here to build our schools. We don't need it to develop our social network. We don't need what they are offering us. We already have everything that we need. All we need to do is protect it for the future."

Watch a video of Art Sterritt's full speech at the Vancouver Media Co-op - No Gateway Port Exansion or Pipelines in BC. Art Sterritt-“A Call For Action”.

17 year old Sam Harrison from Kids for Climate Action told the crowd: "I say this to our Government: if you want to stand up for my generation, start by standing up to the Enbridge Pipeline. ... It's more than a pipeline. It's a path to tar sands expansion. You've all seen the adds...'yeah, it's a path to prosperity'. Well, you know what? It's not a path to prosperity, it's a path to oil spills and a path to catastrophic climate change. But in the end, that is a path we are not going to walk down."

Vancouver Observer has a report with video with excerpts from several of the speakers at the rally.

Victoria sends a message to Ottawa

Over 1000 people attended the No Tankers! No Pipelines! rally at Clover Point, Victoria, B.C. as part of the national event.

Caitlyn Vernon from the Sierra Club told the crowd, "It is about so much more than pipelines. It is about respecting indigenous rights and doing something about global warming. It is about the power of corporations and the power of peoples movements. It is about what we choose to do with this moment that we find ourselves living in. Climate change is not some abstract concept for the future. It is game on. It is now. Last week's typhoon in the philippines: this is what climate change looks like, and none of us are immune. Here in B.C> we already have droughts, floods, bark beetles and an acidifying ocean...."

She told the crowd that whether it is a pipeline proposal or rail, that B.C. is in the way. "Those of us who live here, we have a responsibility not just to this coast but to this planet. To keep on getting in the way."

Watch her speech on youtube.

Defending climate in Halifax

The action in Halifax connected concerns about pipelines and tar sands expansion to local struggles against fracking. The crowd cheered and gave thanks for the leadership of Amy Sock of the Elsipogtog First Nation at the rally.

Robert Devet from the Halifax Media Co-op reports that Elder Billy Lewis talked about the need to get really angry.

"We can't wait any longer. If your house is on fire you don't whisper, you yell", said Lewis. "They're not listening now, and they're not going to listen unless a hell of a lot of us stand up. Here we stand. We're not going anywhere. We really have to become indignant."

Tom Duck, a Physics professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, told the rally “Canadians are well aware that our climate is changing. We see it every day,” said Tom Duck, a faculty member at Dalhousie University in Halifax." reported the Chronicle Herald.

“We have a government that pulled us out of the only legally binding treaty on climate change — the Kyoto Protocol,” said Tom Duck. “We have a government that in the two most important climate portfolios — environment and natural resources — has ministers that have cast doubt on the science of climate change.”

Conflicting Estimates of between 200 and 500 people at the event.

Watch a slideshow montage from the protests:

Watch a youtube video montage of the protests.

And catch Priscilla Judd on a youtube video entertaining the rally in Vernon BC with a protest song:


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