McKibben, Suzuki, Berman and Klein to lead anti-pipeline sit in

The BC legislature in Victoria, BC. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.

Tzeporah Berman, Stephen Lewis, David SuzukiNaomi Klein and Bill McKibben will be among 80 high-profile public figures sitting outside the BC parliament on October 22 to protest tar sands pipelines and oil tankers along the west coast. The sit-in protest is expected to be the largest act of peaceful civil disobedience on the issue to date in Canada. 

"There are moments in history when it's clear that our elected leaders are failing us, and it is necessary to take a stand,” Berman said in a press release on the newly-launched Defend Our Coast website.

“Today, we are stating our intention to defend our coast and calling on others to join us. The risk of oil spills and irreversible harm to our tourism and fishing industries from these pipelines and tankers is just too great."

Neither Premier Christy Clark nor BC Environment Minister Terry Lake were available in time for publication to comment on the protest.

The BC NDP's Environment critic Rob Fleming said that Canadians can and should exercise their rights to speak out.

"The BC NDP has called for the BC Liberals to discard the equivalency agreement with Enbridge Northern Gateway which surrenders all approvals and decision making on oil pipeline infrastructure to Ottawa that would apply to Kinder Morgan's application," he said.

Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner Mike Hudema said said that some participants are "very disappointed" in Premier Clark's repeated insistence on a 'fair share,' saying it means lawmakers could "put a price on BC's coast."
 
"We're equally disappointed in Prime Minister Harper for silencing people who voiced any kind of environmental or human rights ethics, or didn't want to see these pipelines coming through their communities despite the overwhelming opposition," he said.  
 
According to Hudema, the planned October sit-in builds on the success of protests against tar sands expansions and pipelines in the the US and Canada last year. The sit-ins in Washington, DC last August helped influence US President Barack Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, while tar sands pipeline protests in Ottawa later that year helped to catapult the issue into the national spotlight. 

“We’re meeting in Victoria to show that you can’t gut Canada’s environmental legislation and try to put a price tag on the BC coast without a public response,” Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow commented.

“Canada’s iconic coast is far too valuable to risk on tar sands pipelines and tankers and we pledge to defend it.”

Organizers expect people from across Canada to join British Columbians in calling on elected officials to take a stand for Canada’s west coast. 

“We hope people from all walks of life and from across the country join us in Victoria and defend the natural beauty and cultural richness of the B.C. coastline,” said Saik'uz First Nation Chief Jackie Thomas.

“We will be there to show the widespread opposition to tar sands pipelines and tanker proposals and to show the strength of the support for First Nations people’s rights to land and title and the internationally protected right to free, prior and informed consent on any development impacting our traditional territories.”

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