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Pipeline foes plan sit-in at legislature

Oct 21 2012

The prospect of pipelines and tankers are so alarming to Mary Davies that she is giving her employees time off and taking her sons out of school so they can attend a demonstration at 11 a.m. at the legislature Monday.

The Defend Our Coast sit-in is being planned by a loose coalition of environmental groups, unions, the Council of Canadians and First Nations, and many demonstrators are planning to get arrested for civil disobedience.

“I have told my employees that those who would like to attend the rally can do so with pay,” said Davies, who runs an Internet advertising company.

Her two sons, 15-year-old Teli and 12-year-old Kaemon, have decided they want to attend, Davies said.

“To my husband and I, it is very important to teach our kids that their opinions matter and that sometimes it’s OK to break rules for the right thing.”

So far, more than 4,000 people have signed up to attend the demonstration, said organizer Bob Ages, a Council of Canadians national board member.

“The idea is to send a message to the federal and provincial governments on how strongly people feel about stopping these pipelines,” he said.

Although the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline has received much of the attention, people will also be demonstrating against the planned twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and Pacific Trails natural gas pipeline, Ages said.

There are plans for civil disobedience such as stepping over police barriers or holding a sit-in, he said.

Victoria police spokesman Mike Tucker said plans for dealing with demonstrators cannot be revealed.

“We are aware that the event is taking place and there will be police presence at the event,” he said.

Environment Minister Terry Lake said it is important that people have the freedom to show their feelings, especially as many in B.C. are concerned about pipelines and tankers.

“The government is using the environmental assessment process to represent the interests of British Columbians, but other groups can use other processes and demonstrating is one way to do it,” he said.

However, he added, “I don’t think there’s a need to break the law or cause violence or, potentially, harm people.”

Some groups, including B.C. Building Trades, an umbrella organization for construction unions, will not be taking part in the demonstration.

“Over many decades of economic development in B.C., members of the Building Traders have constructed thousands of kilometres of pipeline which delivers many products to a variety of consumers,” says a statement from the group.

“While we do have concerns regarding First Nations participation in the process, the environmental review process itself and the exporting of raw bitumen, we know full well that pipelines are the safest method of transporting product.”

A day of action is scheduled Wednesday outside MLA offices across B.C., including in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Victoria-Beacon Hill, Comox, Nanaimo, Duncan, Campbell River and Parksville-Qualicum.


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