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      Stop TMX! No CGL! Drop Charges Against Land Defenders!

      By Alison Bodine

      On May 10, 2022, the federal Liberal government announced that it is providing $10 billion in loan guarantees to the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) pipeline project. After the costs for this dirty tar-sands pipeline jumped 70% to the outrageous price tag of $21.4 billion, the Trudeau government announced that there would be no more public money for TMX. However, this subsidy assures that the financial and environmental costs of TMX will continue to fall on the shoulders of poor, working and oppressed people in Canada.

      The Liberal government, which claims to be fighting climate change, continues using tax-payer money to give hand-outs to the world’s worst polluters – the fossil fuel companies and bankers that reported record-breaking profits in 2021. According to research from the advocacy group Oil Change International, between 2018 and 2020, Canada provided more public financing to oil and gas companies than any other G20 country (the 20 countries with the world’s largest economies).

      The Trudeau federal government and the BC NDP government of Premier Horgan have also given their full support to the fracked-gas Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline, which crosses through Wet’suwet’en territory in Northern British Columbia. Despite the demands of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs to stop pipeline construction immediately, CGL construction has continued.

      Indigenous land defenders and climate activists face intimidation, violence, arrests, arbitrary detentions, and persecution in their struggle against the TMX and CGL pipelines. When presented with evidence regarding the ongoing harassment and violence against Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en communities, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination sent a letter to Leslie Norton, the Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations. In this letter from April 29, 2022, the committee re-stated their call on the government of Canada to immediately cease the construction of the TMX and CGL pipelines. The committee also asked that the government of Canada present information on measures they have taken to “Prevent and duly investigate the allegations of surveillance measures, practices of arbitrary detention, instances of excessive use of force against protesters” among other concerns regarding the human and democratic rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

      Both the TMX and CGL pipelines are facing growing opposition. In the Lower Mainland, Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver has been working together with other grassroots organizations on campaigns to stop the TMX and CGL pipelines, as well as in the fight against the Site-C Dam and supporting Indigenous land defenders and climate activists facing unjust charges for their peaceful actions to defend Mother Earth.

      On April 22, Climate Convergence co-sponsored an Earth Day rally and march along with Save Old Growth, Protect the Planet! Stop TMX! and Extinction Rebellion Vancouver. At least 250 people gathered for this action, which began at Vancouver City Hall, went on a march across the Cambie Street bridge and ended up at Cooper’s Park downtown for a closing rally. It was an energetic rally and march, with lots of families, young children, and lots of vocal support from people passing by.

      Hug Burnaby Mountain, an action against the TMX pipeline held on May 7, was a great success. Altogether, at least 600 people came out to different stations located around Burnaby Mountain, one of the sites of the TMX pipeline project, linking hands to join in a gigantic human chain. There were more than 120 people at the Climate Convergence station at the intersection of Inlet Drive and Hastings Street in Burnaby. The Climate Convergence station included the “Speak for Us” art of the late Marta Robertson-Smythe, which made a very important and beautiful contribution to the large banners and signs. The station also had a visit from the Left Coast Labour Chorus, who sang protest songs all along the human chain, connecting the Climate Convergence station to the station organized by 350-Vancouver.

      Following the creation of the human chain and the actions at the stations, participants gathered for a closing rally near the Kwekwecnewtxw Traditional Coast Salish Watch House on Burnaby Mountain. Speakers at this rally included Kukpi7 Judy Wilson of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Reuban and Cedar George from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s Sacred Trust Initiative.

      Hug Burnaby Mountain was a great step forward in our continuing fight to stop the TMX pipeline. This dynamic action was organized by Protect the Planet! Stop TMX! and co-sponsored by Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver, 350-Vancouver, SFU-350, Youth Stop TMX, Mountain Protectors, Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS), Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), BROKE, For Our Kids - Burnaby, and Doctors for Planetary Health - West Coast. For more information on the action, including photos, videos and updates about future events, visit https://hugthemountain.ca

      Then, on May 18, Climate Convergence held a banner action demanding “Stop the TMX Pipeline Now!” at a busy intersection in Burnaby near a TMX construction site, which is also only 100 metres away from Burnaby Mountain Secondary School. Pipeline construction through this area is a clear danger to students and yet more proof that the government of Canada is putting profits before the health and safety of people. This successful action received a lot of support from people walking, biking, and driving by, and it got media coverage from City News, CTV and the Chinese community station Fairchild.

      We Must Organize to Stop the Climate Catastrophe!

      The scientific consensus is clear – the world needs immediate action to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and put an end to the destruction of Mother Earth. If the status-quo exploitation of nature continues, there will be devastating consequences for humanity. However, the government of Canada is not acting on this urgent call. People in Canada need money for healthcare, education, housing, and social justice, not pipelines that destroy the planet and trample on Indigenous rights.

      Join Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver as we continue organizing and mobilizing to build the climate justice movement locally and internationally. Climate Convergence holds an organizing meeting twice a month, and all interested in joining the fight for climate justice are welcome to attend. For information and to get involved in Climate Convergence, visit www.climateconvergence.ca, on Twitter and Facebook: @climate604 and on Instagram: @climateconvergence.

      Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette

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