Forty-two Order of Canada recipients are urging the federal government to cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and instead focus on the transition to a clean energy economy.

In an open letter to Canadians released on Thursday, the group, which includes prominent Canadians like Bonnie Sherr Klein, David Suzuki, Robert Bateman, Joy Kogawa and Gabor Maté, says the recent Federal Court of Appeal ruling quashing the government's approval of the pipeline is an opportunity to rethink the project, including the risks to Pacific Coast orca whales. Other recipients who have signed the letter include Dempsey Bob, George Bowering, Lorna Crozier, Alma Lee, Ann Mortifee, Jean Swanson, Dorothy Grant, Raffi Cavoukian, Libby Davies and several others.

42 Order of Canada recipients urge the federal government to cancel the #TransMountain pipeline expansion and instead focus on the transition to a clean energy economy. #cdnpoli #bcpoli #climatechange

“We must be prepared to act boldly for our grandchildren’s future if we are to save our planet. What is possibly worth more?” said Bonnie Sherr Klein, film-maker and Officer of the Order of Canada. Sherr Klein, who is the mother of author Naomi Klein and Seth Klein, the former B.C. director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said the group came together through word of mouth — it was a matter of Google searches and phone calls to people they knew.

"The interesting thing is people were kind of waiting for an opportunity to do something," she said. "People love their country and desire to do something for their country."

Part of the impetus behind the letter came from B.C.'s second summer of devastating wildfires, which blanketed the province in smoke for weeks. Although she was convinced by the science that climate change was real, it was only an intellectual thought.

"We couldn't breath a couple of weeks ago in B.C. and in Vancouver," she said. "At that moment (climate change) became visceral. It was here and now, no longer remote. Scientists are telling us there is a window, but it is small... The idea that we can do something, if we do it now is really very exciting, ... so we really have to make a dramatic shift."

Pierre-Olivier Herbert, press secretary for the federal finance minister, responded to the group's letter in an email to National Observer.

"The Trans Mountain Expansion Project is an investment in Canada's future, and our Government continues to have every confidence in the project... We will ensure that the Project moves forward in the right way while meeting the high standards that Canadians expect when it comes to both protecting the environment and meeting our obligations to consult with Indigenous peoples," Herbert stated.

The Trans Mountain expansion, if built, would triple the capacity of an existing pipeline system, allowing it to ship up to 890,000 barrels of bitumen and other petroleum products from Alberta’s oilpatch to a Burnaby terminal in Metro Vancouver. In August, the Federal Court of Appeal quashed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's approval of the project, saying the government failed to consult adequately with First Nations and didn't consider the effects of tanker traffic on marine life in the Pacific Ocean. At the same time, the federal government closed a deal to buy the pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion.

"We agree with the prime minister that a healthy economy and protecting the environment are not mutually exclusive," the group letter states. "We propose that as a nation we invest in the transition to clean energy and a diversified economy as rapidly as possible. Working together, business, the labour movement, the non-profit sector, religious organizations, and government can generate long-term sustainable jobs in the field of clean energy. Re-training for those who suffer immediate job loss in this transition should become a public policy priority."

"We believe it is critical to add our voices to the many Canadians, young and old, who also desire a better country," the letter says. "While we respect those who differ, we call on our government to cancel the pipeline expansion. In its place we need to develop a comprehensive energy transition plan that is commensurate with the crisis of climate change."

The group feels it has a role to speak out as citizens calling for an energy transition plan that respects First Nations, honours the Paris Accord commitments and creates a sustainable future.

“We can mobilize and rise successfully to these challenges only by Canadians working together,” said Michael Clague, Order of Canada Member and community worker.

Tracy Sherlock writes about B.C. politics for National Observer. Send your tips and ideas to [email protected]. And never miss a story: use the promo code SHERLOCK today when you buy an annual subscription, and get a 20% discount.

Investigative journalism has never been more important. Will you help?

Subscribe

Comments

Promises, promises from Mr. Trudeau. It turns out they were only intended to secure his position as PM. Sad how he just never lived up to any of those promises.

So glad to read this story. Thanks, Tracy. We can hope that Trudeau will listen.

It is helpful for this group of Canadian leaders to add their voice to the call for rethinking the value of our environment to our government. However, in the past it has been children who have often made the biggest impact - convincing their parents to stop smoking and recycle. The children of today have the power to make a difference in a world that has become so economy driven and materialist. May their voices be relentless!

Bravo! Trans Mountain madness is a symptom of a government and prime minister captured by the myth of protecting the environment while promoting unlimited expansion of the tar sands. Meanwhile the number of jobs created in the fossil fuel nightmare that is the tar sands dwindles as the CEO's of the large fossil fuel corporations tell their shareholders that they are reducing massively the number of jobs in the industry through automation. And royalties and tax income to provincial and federal coffers is paltry when con compared to other countries producing fossil fuels. To top it off our government subsidizes the fossil fuel industry massively.Am I missing something here? I think not.

Bravo! Trans Mountain madness is a symptom of a government and prime minister captured by the myth of protecting the environment while promoting unlimited expansion of the tar sands. Meanwhile the number of jobs created in the fossil fuel nightmare that is the tar sands dwindles as the CEO's of the large fossil fuel corporations tell their shareholders that they are reducing massively the number of jobs in the industry through automation. And royalties and tax income to provincial and federal coffers is paltry when con compared to other countries producing fossil fuels. To top it off our government subsidizes the fossil fuel industry massively.Am I missing something here? I think not.

Thank you for reporting on this: the letter is so sane and measured. I only wish all 1000 or so living members would have seen fit to sign on, and that other organizations that carry any sort of persuasive heft (e.g. the Royal Society, the Council of Canadian Academies, Presidents of Universities, CUPE, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Medical Association, etc.) made the same public gestures: we have a generally sympathetic (if captured) federal government and strong ministers. Political capital may be given or it may be hard earned, but one hopes it always comes with a responsibility to use wisely. Helping stave off global disaster would seem to be wise use.

Here's another compelling reason to scrap KM and begin to think seriously about the immediate and long-term implications of the alarming findings of Dr. Tim Garrett who makes a decisive case that humanity is facing a global civilization / economic collapse by the end of this century. Garrett's research findings indicate that we're caught in a double-bind between a collapsing global economy with zero GDP, and an explosive growth in CO2 emissions to levels of 1200 ppm. Moreover, our only "emissions impossible" hope is to build the equivalent of one nuclear plant per day globally. There's apparently no way out. To put it succinctly and indelicately, "We're Screwed!"
Garrett published his findings way back in 2008 in a 19-page paper titled: "Are there basic physical restraints on future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide?"
So how come so few news and information outlets, and no politicians that I know of, mention Garrett and his research? I suspect we all know the answer to that question, but are afraid to speak it publicly.

To read more by/about Garrett and his research, you might consider visiting my website link: https://tinyurl.com/ya5qj9pd . The title of this page is: "Civilization/Economic Collapse ~ Links to All Posts By or About Dr. Tim Garrett’s Research"
p.s. Judging by a drop in visits to my website, Google and Facebook appear to be censoring/blocking leftist, socialist, and activist news/info sites, mine included, so please refer my comment to others. thx

Today's must read