Among 300 or so people braving a storm on Burnaby Mountain yesterday to demonstrate against Texas-based energy giant Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion was author Naomi Klein. National Observer caught up with Klein and asked what brought her from Toronto to Vancouver to protest. She spoke about her connection to the coast, having grown up in British Columbia. It was also, she said, where her son was born. But, above all, she stressed her view that transitioning away from a fossil fuel-dependent economy is urgent and requires 'a no and a yes.' No, to more fossil fuel projects. Yes, to low carbon, clean energy alternatives.
"How hard are people going to fight?" she asked, during an interview documented in the video below.
She said the battle against Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion plan would be long. "People are being tested right now. Trudeau is trying to prove that the opposition isn't that deep and that ultimately, people will scatter and go home."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explained his position (video below) on Kinder Morgan during a forty minute interview with National Observer's Sandy Garossino last February.
Executive leaders from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs were risking arrest to voice their opposition yesterday on Burnaby Mountain, as well, and Klein said, "the idea that there's Indigenous consent for the massive pipeline expansion is about to be exploded, because some of the most powerful Indigenous leaders are putting their bodies on the line and saying 'we do not consent.'"
The Trans Mountain expansion has sparked strong opposition in parts of B.C., in part because it would bring a seven-fold increase in oil tankers traffic along the Burrard Inlet. While proponents say the project will boost jobs and tax revenue, its critics argue it would push Canada's climate goals out of reach. Since March, around 200 people, including federal MPs Elizabeth May and Kennedy Stewart, have been arrested on Burnaby Mountain by violating a court injunction not to enter within five metres of a Kinder Morgan construction site or facility.
Alberta Primer Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been vocal supporters of the pipeline project, putting them at odds with B.C.'s NDP government and the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby.
@NaomiAKlein, at a protest against the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, stressed her view that transitioning away from a fossil fuel-dependent economy is urgent and requires 'a no and a yes.' #Canada #pipelines
B.C. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said that "there are absolutely no benefits to the project to British Columbians. B.C. is shouldering "all of the risks in regard to a pipeline rupture or a catastrophic tanker spill," he added.
He praised the 200 "courageous people" who were arrested while protesting the Kinder Morgan expansion on Burnaby over the last month.
"I want to offer a shout out to Elizabeth May and Kennedy Stewart, who took great risk to their political careers and were arrested a couple of weeks ago," he said. "We have an obligation to our children and grandchildren and future generations...to demonstrate our ongoing opposition to this."
MP Stewart tweeted in response that BC Grand Chief Phillip had inspired his action on Burnaby Mountain.
Both Naomi Klein and Andrew Nikiforuk criticized the Liberal government, saying Trudeau's support for the Trans Mountain expansion contradicts climate goals the Liberals themselves set in motion at the 2015 United Nations climate talks in Paris.
Nikiforuk is a journalist for The Tyee and author of books on the resource industry, including Tar Sands, Slick Water and The Energy of Slaves, voiced scathing criticism of Canada's federal government. Standing with First Nation chiefs in the exclusion zone, he said he was willing to risk arrest to express his opposition to the oil pipeline expansion.
"I feel I have a moral obligation to resist governments and political parties that don't represent our best interests anymore. I'm most worried about the state of our democracy and how our political leaders continually fail us," Nikiforuk said.
He said he believed the Canada was headed for a "difficult, problematic transition off fossil fuels," mainly due to a lack of government leadership.
"Politicians refuse to even move in that direction. They're compromising the future of my children," he said.
"Why are we exporting bitumen to China? This is a very bad resource policy, period," Nikiforuk said.
"The economics are appalling, the politics are appalling. "The only reason we're doing it is because Trudeau wants to sign a free trade agreement with China. The Chinese have said that unless they have pipeline access to bitumen, they will not sign this agreement."
"The Trudeau government has shown time and again that their word is no good, whether it's the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples, or whether it's the UN climate accord," Klein said.
Trans Mountain did not respond to National Observer's request for a comment in time for publication.