More than 50 people in Maple Ridge joined a nation-wide protest Saturday to stop pipelines, oil sands expansion and draw attention to climate change.
The rally outside MP Randy Kamp’s office was one of 130 events staged across Canada as part of a national day of action to Defend Our Climate.
Newly-elected Katzie First Nation Chief Susan Miller kicked off the protest by welcoming rally participants to her band’s traditional territory.
Mike Gildersleeve, who organized the Maple Ridge rally, was pleased with the turn-out and honks of support from passing cars.
“We don’t want to be saddled with a fossil-fuel-dependant economy,” said Gildersleeve, a former Green Party candidate.
At the top of his concerns is Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
Gildersleeve believes the 1,170 kilometre pipeline will be disastrous for the environment and increase the risk of an oil spill on B.C.’s pristine coast.
If approved, the Enbridge pipeline would deliver up to 525,000 barrels of diluted bitumen a day to Kitimat, where it would be shipped via tankers to Asian markets.
The federal Joint Review Panel is expected to deliver its final report on the Enbridge proposal by the end of year.
Many protesters also opposed Kinder Morgan’s plan to nearly triple the capacity of its existing TransMountain pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver, as well as the provincial government’s push to ramp up production of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
“We expect our government to be leaders in green technology, alternative energy and renewal energy, instead of just giving lip service to this,” said Gildersleeve.
“We demand to see some action on these fronts. Instead what we are seeing is this feeding frenzy – more LNG projects, the prospect of pipelines through parks.”
Protestors challenged Canada’s federal government to create an economy that’s built to last, with energy that is clean, just and safe.
Gildersleeve said he hopes Conservative MP Kamp will take the message to Ottawa.
“There is a loud and growing voice saying this is not in our national interest.”
Kamp did not know what the protest was about, but added he respected their democratic right to voice their concerns peacefully.
He defended his government’s environmental record and clarified a few facts for the protestors.
“The facts show that between 2000 and a decade later, that federally regulated pipelines had a very good safety record, of what I’ve been told, 99.99 per cent,” said Kamp.
He added the “oil sands” currently accounts for about 0.16 per cent or nearly 1/1000th of global emissions.
“Resource development is an important part of Canada’s economy,” said Kamp.
“We think it’s extremely responsible resource development.”
Canada, however, has been awarded the “Fossil of the Year” award five times for its perceived inaction on climate change.
Meant to be a badge of shame, the award was shared with New Zealand in 2012.
Last week, Canada was awarded a ‘Fossil of Disbelief’ at a United Nations climate summit in Warsaw for its recent public support of Australia’s plans to repeal its climate legislation.
Kamp says the federal government believes you can do both – “develop resources and do it in a responsible way.”
As for taking the protestors concerns back to Ottawa, Kamp said they didn’t leave him any material.
“If they want to drop something off, I’d be glad to read it,” he added.