More than 40 communities in British Columbia will participate in a provincewide rally to show growing public opposition to Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
In Nanaimo, a rally is scheduled outside Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog’s office, 4-77 Victoria Cres., on Wednesday (Oct. 24) at noon.
The original Defend Our Coast rally, set for Monday (Oct. 22) in Victoria, is being organized by the Dogwood Initiative with the help of Leadnow.ca, an independent advocacy group working to improve democracy. It is expected to be the largest act of peaceful civil disobedience on the oil sands issue in Canada, according to organizers.
Barb Kohlman, organizer for the Nanaimo rally, said the goal is to encourage government to pass legislation that would not allow for an increase in oil tankers on the B.C. coast as well as generate public awareness on the issue.
“That’s the whole gist of this,” said Kohlman. “The pipeline won’t go ahead if there aren’t any tankers coming to get the bitumen.”
Kohlman added that environmental risks posed by the pipeline and increased tanker traffic is a threat to all coastal communities.
“Would it affect us here in Nanaimo? You bet it would,” she said. “I was recently in Tofino gathering 1,700 signatures for a petition. They get it there. If there is a spill, Tofino becomes a ghost town. No whale watching, no fishing, nothing.”
Krog said that the NDP is categorically against any pipeline spanning B.C.
“The NDP is opposed to the building of the pipeline,” said Krog. “We see significant risks to already valuable resources, it could be and probably will be an environmental disaster, with very little, if any, fiscal upside.”
He added that if the NDP were to attain power in May, the party would “do everything reasonably and legally possible to ensure that the pipeline is not built.”
A recent resolution narrowly passed at September’s Union of British Columbia Municipalities called for Premier Christy Clark and Opposition New Democrat leader Adrian Dix to use legislative powers to prevent oil tanker expansion on B.C.’s coast.
Enbridge responded by saying that over the past quarter-century more than 1,500 vessels carrying petrochemicals have safely navigated in and out of the waters near Kitimat.
Enbridge is currently before a Joint Review Panel in Prince George defending its environmental record.
According to a release issued by Leadnow.ca, the Defend Our Coast Day of action is being endorsed by more than 80 community, union, business and Aboriginal leaders, including the David Suzuki Foundation, former Canadian UN ambassador Stephen Lewis and the Council of Canadians.
“The majority of British Columbians have serious concerns about the expansion of tar sands, pipelines and tankers,” said Nadia Nowak, spokeswoman for Leadnow.ca. “People from all walks of life – First Nations, ranchers, fishermen, business owners, foresters, teachers – are stepping up and coming together like never before to form a wall of opposition and call on our provincial leaders to defend our coast.”
Kohlman said participants, of which she is expecting 70 to 80, will link arms to symbolize the citizens of B.C.’s unbroken wall of opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project.
For more on the Defend Our Coast rally, visit www.defendourcoast.ca/actions.