Ottawa holds vigil against Kinder Morgan

By Marina Wang

Protesters huddled together under the lamplight on a frigid evening outside parliament in what is likely to be the last nation-wide protest before a decision on the controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline is announced. The candlelit vigil is just one of 45 that occurred across Canada.

The Liberal government is scheduled to announce a decision on the Kinder Morgan pipeline by Dec. 19 at the latest, but many activists believe the big announcement could be any day now.

The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion is a multi-billion-dollar project that would connect Alberta’s tar sands to a tanker terminal in Burnaby, B.C. Transported diluted bitumen to the coast would increase from 300,000 barrels a day to more than 800,000 barrels a day, according to the Kinder Morgan website. Tanker traffic could increase by as much as seven-fold.

Speakers at the vigil came from organizations such as 350 Ottawa, Council of Canadians, and Ecology Ottawa. They conceded that the Liberal government cannot support the environment while investing in fossil fuel infrastructures.

“To continue expanding oil production in the midst of a climate crisis is the wrong path,” said 350 Ottawa member Rolly Montpellier. “It is insanity. The right path is to listen to climate science, to heed the warnings, and to stand with Canadians, millions of us, and over 85 first nations that have said no to pipelines.”

Montpellier notes that the announcement of a federal carbon plan was closely timed with the approval of the LNG pipeline in B.C. earlier this fall. Given Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s recent announcement to phase out coal, Montpellier thinks the pro-environment announcement will be followed by a decision on Kinder Morgan.

“They’re jerking us around,” said Montpellier.

An upcoming announcement on Kinder Morgan would also precede a first minister’s meeting to be held in December, in which the Liberal government aims to consolidate their Climate Action Plan.

“The timing is to persuade the government to act very boldly and just not approve this project,” said Montpellier.

Daniel Cayley-Daoust, who organized the event, said that approval of the pipeline would undermine Canada’s goals in the Paris Climate Agreement. “The approval of pipelines would basically mean the government is supporting renewed investments in the fossil fuel industry that would lock us in to very large increases in greenhouse gas emissions that would make it extremely hard to meet our Paris agreements.”

Montpellier explained that the Liberals are likely to favour approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline running through British Columbia over the Energy East pipeline going the opposite direction to Eastern Canada.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has stated that she wants to see Alberta’s resources make it to market.

“The baseline is that Rachel needs a pipeline,” said Montpellier. “They promised her a pipeline and that’s what we’re trying to prevent.”