VANCOUVER – Hundreds of protesters opposed to the expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline demonstrated Thursday night outside a Vancouver hotel where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed a Liberal party fundraising dinner.
They chanted “Kinder Morgan has got to go” as they marched several blocks through downtown to a hotel where the Liberals were meeting.
Emma Pullman, campaign manager with SumOfUs, said the protest is intended to show Trudeau that there is a lot opposition to the project and the Liberals stand to lose seats in B.C. if the pipeline is built.
“In a time when we need to be talking about a transition and talking about reconciliation the prime minister is talking about building a pipeline that’s going to be in the ground for 30 years,” she said. “There’s literally thousands of people who are opposed to it, many of whom are voters.”
Chief Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said he wants a joint consultation with all the communities on the pipeline route through British Columbia.
“This does not have First Nations consent and we value the environment more than money,” he added.
Trudeau’s speech to the fundraising event was interrupted by Cedar George-Parker, a young Indigenous leader from the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation who shouted: “The pipeline is not happening, the youth will stand up and stop it. … You lied to the people, you lied to our people.”
As George-Parker peacefully left the room, Trudeau said: “If you were to stick around you could hear me talk about how the environment and the economy go together. … We know that building a strong future requires a broad range of voices.”
It was a similar theme used by Trudeau earlier Thursday in Victoria, where he said his message of support for environmental protection and the pipeline are the same as he visits British Columbia and Alberta this week.
The federal government needs to build a strong economy and protect the environment at the same time, Trudeau said, adding that he has faith in his government’s ocean protection and emergency preparedness plans.
“I would not have approved this pipeline had I not been confident of that,” he said. “It’s precisely because of these stringent measures that we can stand behind our approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion with confidence. This project will be safe, jobs will be created and this pipeline will be built.”
About 100 protesters chanted “Leave it in the ground” not far from where the prime minister was getting a tour of a Canadian Coast Guard ship in Victoria.
Trudeau said such decisions aren’t made by “those who shout the loudest,” but are taken on the basis of facts, science and evidence.
About 200 people have been arrested near Kinder Morgan’s marine terminal in Burnaby, B.C., during recent protests against the project.
The pipeline, which would triple the amount of oil flowing from Alberta to Burnaby, was approved by the federal government in 2016.
Protesters say it will raise the risk of oil tanker spills in the Burrard Inlet and it can’t be completed if the government is to meet its climate change commitments to cut Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions another 200 million tonnes a year by 2030.
Trudeau is to travel to Fort McMurray, Alta., on Friday to tour a new Suncor oilsands facility.
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