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Pipeline opponents planning high-profile protest at legislature

Sep 13 2012

A high-profile sit-in, billed as a massive act of peaceful civil disobedience, is being planned for the legislature lawn next month to protest possible threats that pipelines and tankers would pose to the West Coast.

The sit-in is being endorsed by more than 80 business, First Nations, environmental, labour, academic and artistic leaders from across Canada, including well-known Canadians such as Stephen Lewis, David Suzuki, Maude Barlow and Naomi Klein.

"There are moments in history when it's clear that our elected leaders are failing us and it is necessary to take a stand," said author and environmentalist Tzeporah Berman, who led the massive Clayoquot protests in 1993. "Today, we are stating our intention to defend our coast, and we are calling on others to join us. The risk of oil spills and irreversible harm to our tourism and fishing industries from these pipelines and tankers is just too great," she said.

Berman believes there is unprecedented and unrelenting opposition to the proposed Enbridge pipeline, which would run from the Alberta oilsands to Kitimat. From there, bitumen would be shipped by tanker through northern B.C. waters to Asian markets.

Kinder Morgan is also hoping to bring more crude oil through B.C. by twinning its pipeline from Alberta to the Burnaby end of Vancouver Harbour, possibly increasing tanker traffic fivefold.

The aim of the October sit-in is to build on successes such as last year's sit-ins in Washington, D.C., that helped delay approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Protesters are also taking aim at what they see as a dismantling of environmental protections by the federal government.

"We're meeting in Victoria to show that you can't gut Canada's environmental legislation and try to put a price tag on the B.C. coast without a public response," said Barlow, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians.

"Canada's iconic coast is far too valuable to risk on tarsands pipelines and tankers, and we pledge to defend it."

Organizers say they expect people from across Canada to join the sit-in Oct. 22.

"We hope people from all walks of life and from across this country will join us in Victoria and defend the natural beauty and cultural richness of the B.C. coastline," said Chief Jackie Thomas of Saik'uz First Nation.

For more information, go to defendourcoast.ca.

Another event protesting pipelines and tankers is the No Tankers Ball, a music festival being held Sept. 22 and 23 at Providence Farm in Duncan.

Speakers include Guujaaw, president of the Haida Nation, and 11-year-old singer and activist Ta'Kaiya Blaney.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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