ANTIGONISH: The federal government’s plan to purchase the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline for $4.5 billion was the subject of a recent protest.
A group of residents gathered at St. James Church Hall in Antigonish on July 19 to discuss the decision. Approximately 25 people attended the town hall which was organized by 350.org, a global climate change organization.
“The current federal government has refused to host public town halls,” said local organizer Patrick Yancey. “And unfortunately, we weren’t successful in getting any of our local politicians to attend.”
Central Nova MP Sean Fraser was invited to the event but did not attend.
Katie Perfitt, national organizer 350.org, said political representation at the national level was scarce.
“Between those 30 events, which took place nationally, over 60 Liberal MPs were invited,” she said. “The number that showed up – three.”
To his credit, Fraser did meet with members of local group, Fair Climate Transition, and agreed to pass a message onto Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Yancey said.
“It was asking for a transparent study by independent climate scientists and economists, to look at whether the Kinder Morgan buyout and expansion is justifiable in light of climate change,” he said. “And to compare the jobs created by the Kinder Morgan deal to the jobs that could be created from investing the same amount in efficiencies and renewables.”
The night was aimed at collecting perspectives on the planned purchase of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline through an information session and the screening of the documentary Directly Affected: A Pipeline Under Pressure.
Trudeau was elected on promises of real climate leadership and needs to follow through on those promises, Prefitt said.
“People believed the Liberals would stick by this, and not expand on one of the dirtiest sources of fossil fuels there is,” she said. “This pipeline is incompatible with Canada’s climate plan and also with meeting the Paris Agreement.”
Yancey agreed the Liberal government isn’t following through with their explicit election promises.
“In our view its madness to be spending billions on fossil fuels in 2018,” he said. “Upwards of $11 billion to be given to fossil fuel companies, it’s not in line with their promise of being climate leaders.”
The government has promised to renew a respectful ‘Nation-to-Nation’ relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. Forcing a pipeline through indigenous territory without their consent is a major concern for Yancey.
“With Indigenous communities not going to give their consent, this should be a deal breaker,” he said. “It goes against their inherit rights as Indigenous Peoples.”
Prefitt said all across the country, the town halls were a beautiful in-depth look at the pipeline buy-out, allowing people to really become engaged.
“We were successful in raising awareness, after the film people were so hungry to talk about what resonated with them,” she said. “In terms of getting answers of why our government is standing behind this pipeline, we didn’t get the answers we were looking for.”