The fight against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is not over, at least that’s what concerned local residents heard in a town hall this week, presented by Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP Randall Garrison and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.
Garrison, who has been steadfast in his opposition of the pipeline brought Cullen to speak to his constituents because “five years into the same fight, people want to know what’s changed now” that the government owns the 65-year-old pipeline.
“We have to stop doing the things we know, it will not lead us to the climate targets we need,” Garrison said, in an interview.
Each year, the oil being transported through the pipeline will eat up the equivalent of 84 per cent of the targets Canada set in the Paris Agreement.
A “very strong campaign financed by the oil industry of climate change denial” and the enormity of the challenge overwhelms the average person, Garrison said.
The federal government purchased the 65-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan in May after the Texas-based energy giant could not guarantee assurances the B.C. government wouldn’t continue to interfere and hold up the project.
The twinning of the existing pipeline is designed to increase the amount of diluted bitumen travelling to B.C. coasts, that is then loaded onto tankers. This expansion is expected to increasing tanker traffic by 700 per cent.
In August, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled the government failed to properly consult with Indigenous communities, requiring the National Energy Board to start its review process over.
“The National Energy Board up close is a very strange animal,” said Cullen, adding one of the rules for people who come to testify is that their 10 minute time slot prohibits singing, a staple of Indigenous culture.
Cullen has been touring communities throughout B.C. in an effort to mobilize voters to “get politicians to do what they need to do.”
“People are ahead of the politicians on this,” he said. “We’re at a point and time in our history where the status quo is dead.”
Concerned with how the feds will serve as both “judge and jury” now that they own the pipeline, while also being technically responsible for the assessment of twinning it, Cullen called the entire process “paternalistic.”
“At some point, we have to decide where we’re going,” he said.