Approximately one hundred people gathered on Monday in the Canadian capital city of Ottawa to protest against the planned expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline.
Billed by rally organizers as “the largest act of youth-led climate civil disobedience in Canadian history,” the mostly student protesters journeyed from the University of Ottawa to Parliament Hill. The marchers carried signs reading “Keep it in the Ground” and unfurled a banner reading “Climate Leaders Don’t Build Pipelines.”
Originally it had been reported that up to one hundred protesters were arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for attempting to break security barricades. The RCMP later clarified, saying that some fifty demonstrators were briefly detained for trespassing and ticketed without arrest.
“It was a really momentous time… Sometimes you’ve got to do that in order to get the message across,” said detained protester Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie who also mentioned that she and others crossed the barriers in order to get the attention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We were all prepared and we all understood the legal ramifications of what would happen and going through possible scenarios,” said the University of Winnipeg attendee who was one of three students from that school detained at Parliament Hill.
The Trans Mountain pipeline run by Kinder Morgan currently transports some 300,000 barrels per day of crude oil and refined petroleum from the oilsands in Alberta westward to British Columbia and Washington State. According to Kinder Morgan, the proposed expansion would cost some US$6.8 billion, add around 980 kilometers of new pipeline, and allow for the additional transport of “heavier oils with capability for transporting light crude oils.” The expanded pipeline could transport 890,000 barrels per day.
Canada’s National Energy Board approved the Trans Mountain expansion proposal with 157 conditions in May, and the Trudeau administration is expected to announce a final decision before 19 December.
Kinder Morgan officials recently warned that government approval of the expansion plans could lead to increased attacks on infrastructure beyond acts of civil disobedience. Yet as written in the Financial Post last Thursday, “construction of the (Trans Mountain) pipeline would ultimately be cancelled out by the expected growth in oilsands production, which is estimated to increase significantly over the next four years as long-awaited expansion projects come online”.