Summer 2023 in Canada, and especially in British Columbia, has not only been characterized by extreme heat and raging wildfires but also a historic drought. July 3-10, 2023, was the hottest week since world temperatures were first recorded in 1850. As reported by the Globe and Mail on July 27, “two-thirds of British Columbia’s 34 water basins – regions that are used by the province to manage the levels and flow of water – are at Drought Level 4 or 5, the worst on the province’s scale.” These extreme weather conditions have impacted everyone, but poor and working people, farmers, immigrants and refugees, and Indigenous communities and people living in Northern BC have faced the most hardship.
Government Response to the Drought Emergency is Too Little, Too Late
In the face of this ongoing disaster, the response of the federal Liberal government and the BC NDP government has been grossly inadequate and unacceptable. Has the BC government issued a stop-work order on so-called “natural” fracked-gas projects that drain vital water sources? Has the federal government ended the construction of the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline (TMX), which threatens the Fraser and Coquihalla River systems that it crosses? What about halting commercial bottled water operations?
In early July, the British Columbia Energy Regulator suspended some of the previously approved water withdrawals for Northern watersheds. The BC government has also reported that they have “asked” the commercial water bottling operations to “reduce their use.” However, these small steps are far too little and far too late. Overall, the provincial and federal governments have not taken any effective action to conserve and preserve essential water sources in preparation for a very predictable drought. Instead, they have continued with the same business-as-usual policies, which put the interests and profits of massive corporations and oil and gas companies first, neglecting the needs and rights of people and the planet.
Destruction of Water Sources Continues with Impunity
On top of this, oil and gas extraction projects and the Site-C mega-dam have been allowed to pollute and devastate BC’s lakes, rivers, and streams without consequence.
In May 2023, five stop work orders against the Coastal GasLink (CGL) fracked gas pipeline were issued by the BC Environmental Assessment Office for negatively impacting Anzac River and Wedzin Kwa (Morice River). This pollution of vital water sources by CGL is ongoing – and the fines imposed are a drop in the bucket. In January 2023, CGL was fined a mere $213,600 by the BC government for “continued deficiencies with erosion and sediment.” The next month, that same government announced fee reductions that will save TC Energy, the corporation building the CGL pipeline, $16 million dollars over the next 25 years. This destruction continues under the BC NDP government while the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and community members whose unceded land is crossed by CGL continue to face police attacks and brutality for their opposition to the pipeline and their peaceful defence of the land and water.
As reported by Sarah Cox of the Narwhal (www.thenarwhal.ca) in August 2023, “The contractor building the Site C hydro dam in northeast B.C. was fined $1.1 million this week after pleading guilty to discharging more than three million litres of contaminated wastewater into the fish-bearing Peace River,” related to an incident nearly six years ago – in September 2023. Once again, this $1.1 million fine is nothing compared to the $1.75 billion price tag of the project. As with other climate crimes, the damage to the Peace River cannot be undone, and the CEOs and massive corporations that are responsible are getting away with nothing more than a small slap on the wrist.
These examples are just a few from the mountain of evidence demonstrating that the Trudeau Liberal federal government and David Eby’s NDP government in British Columbia have no regard for Indigenous rights, people or the planet and no real plans to address the climate emergency. This gross neglect in the face of a climate catastrophe is exactly what makes building a more united and stronger climate justice movement necessary.
Join the Struggle in Defence of Water and Mother Earth!
The struggle in defence of water is directly tied to the fight to stop the TMX and CGL pipelines. It is also one of the many important fights that we have ahead of us in this time of climate emergency. We must work together to end global warming, ocean acidification, species extinction, deforestation, pollution, and all the other ills that have been imposed on people and the planet by the capitalist economic system.
Throughout the summer, Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver has continued to join and unite with other grassroots organizations and climate justice fighters to educate, organize and mobilize people across the Lower Mainland in defence of Mother Earth and Indigenous rights:
July 1 – Climate justice tabling at Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver, at an art installation from local artist A.S. Dhillon exposing Canada’s ongoing genocide of Indigenous people and complicity in U.S.-led wars and occupations. Climate Convergence joined in tabling with Decolonial Solidarity – Vancouver.
July 29 – Car Free Day in New Westminster. Climate Convergence had a table at the popular street festival. There was a great response from people passing by eager to sign the “Hey Trudeau: TMX Has Got to Go!” postcard and find out more about getting involved in the struggle for climate justice.
August 1 – Climate Convergence action: No New Pipelines in a Climate Emergency! Stop the TMX and CGL Pipelines! Intersection Action and Decolonial Solidarity Adopt-a-Branch Action Demanding RBC Divest from the CGL Pipeline. This action was held at the intersection of 6th Avenue and 6th Street in New Westminster, where activists were greeted with lots of supportive honking and interested passers-by.
August 7-9 – Protect the Planet, Stop TMX! Summer Campaign Kick-off event, endorsed by Climate Convergence. Activists gathered from 10 am-6 pm each day with banners and information in Hume Park in Burnaby to call attention to the ongoing construction of the climate-destroying TMX pipeline and invite people to get involved in further actions and events against TMX.
Join the September 15 Global Climate Strike and ongoing actions!
From September 15-17, 2023, people around the world are mobilizing for a Global Climate Strike. In Vancouver, the action is being organized by an ad-hoc coalition of climate justice organizations, including Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver, For Our Kids-Vancouver, Fridays for Future – Vancouver, Protect the Planet, Stop TMX!, Canadian Parents for Climate Action, Doctors for Planetary Health - West Coast and many others. On September 15, people will gather at Vancouver City Hall at 11am for a rally and march to the Vancouver Art Gallery, where there will be music and information booths.
For more information and to get involved in the Global Climate Strike action and ongoing work for climate justice in Metro Vancouver, contact Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver at: www.climateconvergence.ca, on Twitter: @climate604 and Instagram and Facebook: @climateconvergence
Drop all charges against land defenders!
No to the TMX and CGL pipelines!
System change, not climate change!
Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette
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