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Guelph Students Sit-In Against the Enbridge Pipeline

Sunday, October 28, 2012

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  • Students holding signs to "Defend Our Coast" from the Oil Pipeline.

    Students holding signs to "Defend Our Coast" from the Oil Pipeline.

Written by Peter Miller

In British Columbia communities are doing actions against the potential implementation of pipelines from the Alberta tar sands. There is the possibility that Enbridge Inc, may be given the okay by the BC provincial government to construct a pipeline to carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta tarsands about 1,100 km to a tanker port planned for Kitimat, B.C.

If the Enbridge Pipeline is constructed and ruptures, it will create great environmental harm. The pipeline will threaten 785 rivers and streams. There is also concern that if pipelines are built there will a huge increase in supertanker traffic. The biggest tankers will carry 8 times more oil than the Exxon Valdez that spilled off the coast of Alaska in 1989. In addition, traffic will greatly increase in the Hecate Strait, one of the most dangerous waterways in the world. An oil spill off the coast of BC would have devastating effects on the ecosystem along the coast, and also have a negative effect on thousands of jobs around tourism and fishing.

The leading opposition to pipelines towards the coast is coming from more than 140 First Nations communities. First Nations Communities in B.C. are defending their rights to lands that are in the way of potential pipelines. Despite all of the opposition to the pipelines, BC Premier Christy Clark has said that the Enbridge Pipeline may be able to go through for the right price.

There is also a lot of worry that the pipeline will go through because the Harper Conservative Government is pro tarsands. In the last Federal Budget, the Tories have just enacted legislation that gutted environmental laws around protection.

In reaction to the governments and tar sands companies, and for a sustainable vision that takes into account future generations, B.C. communities have taken part in a campaign called “Defend Our Coast.” On Monday October 22, thousands of supporters conducted a sit-in at BC’s legislature in Victoria. Shortly afterwards, on Wednesday October 24, protesters linked arms across MLA (Provincial Legislative) offices all over BC to say clearly that the BC government should “Defend Our Coach.”

Students and community members held a sit-in at the University of Guelph, in Branion Plaza, to show solidarity with the people in British Columbia. Free t-shirts were handed out to participants saying “Defend our Coast.” A large banner was also at the event with the same slogan.

During the event, participants chanted “Defend our coast, before it’s toast”, and “we love our coast” among others.

Libby Oliver, a former University of Guelph Student, was one of the main organizers for the event. She has been involved in “Defend Our Coast” organizing in B.C.

For Oliver the solidarity actions that occurred across Canada were not only against pipelines as well as the expansion of the tar sands, but also for people and communities to have greater say in political and economic decisions. She pointed out that the actions across BC were acts of civil disobedience, in order to put pressure on those with political power who often do not listen when only letters or petitions are sent to the legislature.

Oliver stated that if pipelines are implemented along the coast, the 1 percent will benefit, while the public will bear the costs of cleaning up the coast and BC interior if there are oil spills.

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