Moncton Environmentalists Protest Gas Pipeline In B.C., Oil Sands Mine In Alberta

Protesters in front of Ginette Petitpas Taylors office on Monday. Image: Inda Intiar/Huddle

MONCTON – The fight of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in British Columbia against Coastal GasLink’s plan to put an LNG pipeline has garnered national and international attention, including the United Nations. A handful of New Brunswickers showed their support in front of MP Ginette Petitpas Taylor’s office at lunchtime on Monday, while several drivers honked their cars in support.

“We’re here to mainly support the Wet’suwet’en Nation, we’re standing in solidarity with them. They’re opposing the Coastal Gas Link pipeline right now that’s going through their territory,” said Jessica Spencer, a volunteer organizer with the New Brunswick chapter of the global Extinction Rebellion movement.

The UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called for the immediate suspension of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, among other projects, until Indigenous peoples provide proper consent.

The Moncton protesters are also demanding the federal government reject a proposal for Teck Frontier oilsands mine in Alberta, which has faced controversy due to its environmental impact.

The federal government has until the end of this month to decide whether to reject or approve the project, which environmentalists say will kill Canada’s chances to achieve its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

Under the Paris Agreement, Canada had pledged to cut its GHG emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during his recent election campaign, also promised that the country will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. But a UN report in November 2019 showed Canada will miss its 2030 target by 15 percent based on its current policies.

Doug Swain of Parkindale, who were among protesters in Moncton Monday, said projects like the Teck oilsands mine and the Coastal GasLink pipeline will make Canada fall further behind.
“Certainly, Canada’s GHG emissions targets are not strong enough as they are, they need to be made stronger, not weaker by developing more tar sands project and doing the opposite of what needs to be done,” he said, adding that the federal government is “not acting like there’s an emergency at all.”

The protesters want governments and businesses to invest in green technology and jobs, and renewable energy instead of fossil fuel projects.

That goes for projects in New Brunswick as well, where the discussion on fracking for natural gas resurfaced in 2018 after the Conservative government lifted the fracking moratorium in the Sussex area. That’s where Corridor Resources plans to revive its production and assets.

Swain says projects like Corridor’s, Teck’s or Coastal GasLink’s are the type of projects that should not move ahead because of their environmental impact. He hopes fellow New Brunswickers will “try to convince provincial, municipal and federal government to work towards green energy, and net zero emissions within a decade.”

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Extinction Rebellion’s volunteers are meeting with MP Taylor on Tuesday to discuss a motion for a Green New Deal in the House of Commons, Spencer said.

“We’re going to be working with the New Brunswick Environmental Network’s Low Carbon Economy Caucus, so we’re uniting the different environmental groups across New Brunswick, hopefully, to pursue the implementation of policies that will transition our economies to 100 percent renewable as quickly as possible and give action to these ideas,” Spencer said. “We’ve been working with some professionals who have a plan to transition New Brunswick to 95% renewable.”

Spencer said she hopes other residents will see the protests and start asking more questions.

“I think at this point it’s important to educate the public as much as possible. We’re holding what we’re calling the talk, by informing on climate change and the climate emergency, and how that’s going to affect their lives, and what they can do to help support the change that needs to happen,” she said.

Moncton saw at least 1,700 people march in a climate action rally in September and the city has also declared a climate emergency.

Spencer says it’s important that these rallies and protests continue, even if the number of participants isn’t always big.

“When we had that big march in the fall…it opened up our leaders’ ears. They know they need to take us seriously. Obviously it’s not going to happen just from one march, it’s something we need to continue and pursue and be a watchdog constantly, so it could be a little bit exhausting and hard to feel the momentum, but it’s important not to let that stop you.”

Spencer herself started taking part in climate action rallies in the past year.

“When it became more evident the urgency to reduce carbon emissions in the globe, I started to understand what that would look like and how it would affect not only my life but the community, the economy, the global situation as well.

Extinction Rebellion New Brunswick‘s Facebook page currently has 760 followers.