June 5: Saint Sulpice - Montreal East
Today, the marchers awoke to a cloudy but warm day for a 30 kilometer walk -- the longest yet throughout the march as a whole. The lack of sunshine and long day of walking did little to darken the mood of the marchers, who were excited to reach Montreal. Protest songs written for the march by the Chorale du Peuple -- a dissident music collective formed at Occupy Montreal -- could be heard constantly as the marchers made their way through Repentigny and into Pointe-Aux-Trembles: the easternmost point on the island of Montreal.
Pointe-Aux-Trembles is a particularly important battleground in the fight against Tar Sands pipelines in Quebec. Within that section of Montreal exists multiple oil refineries, which have been the subject of serious debate over many years. On the one hand, some local supporters of the refineries point to the jobs which exist in the refineries -- and the various philanthropic projects which the companies are involved in within Pointe-Aux-Trembles -- as justification for their existence.
On the other hand, a growing number of people in the area see the refineries as a threat to be resisted. The borough has abnormally high cancer rates, which are undoubtedly linked to the heavy industrial activity in the area. The environmental question is also being increasingly discussed as the seriousness of climate change becomes more and more apparant. The economic argument employed by the oil companies is often countered with the fact that renewable energy has been proven to create more jobs --by any measurement -- than fossil fuels.
With all this in mind, the march stopped for a short demonstration in front of SunCor's refinery in Pointe-Aux-Trembles. In this refinery, the Tar Sands fuel from Line 9 will be refined into both usable oil and petcoke -- a derivative of Tar Sands fuel, often stored in giant piles outdoors (meaning that a small amount of wind causes it to contaminate the air in the surrounding area), which burns dirtier than coal.
The marchers left the demonstration with -- literally -- a bad taste in their mouth. Luckily, once they arrived at their destination in Montreal East, they were greeted once again by many excited local residents who were opposed to the pipelines for various reasons. Signatures for the Coule Pas Chez Nous petition were collected en masse by themobilization team, the members of which could be constantly seen running around to pedestrians and onlookers to explain what the Peoples for Mother Earth were doing in their town.
The huge amount of support we recieved from average citizens stood in stark contrast to the fact that local politicians all seem to be in favor of the pipelines. One would think that in a genuine democracy, representatives would base their choices on the will of the people. The marchers hope that with genuine popular mobilization against the pipelines, this will finally be the case.
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