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A week of protest continues Wednesday outside the Enbridge Joint Review Panel hearings in Vancouver, with local Idle No More organizers joining forces with the anti-pipeline movement for a rally starting at 12 Noon outside the Sheraton Wall Centre.
On Monday, thousands joined a night march and noise rally through downtown Vancouver to 'welcome' the Enbridge hearing to the city.
The Vancouver hearings, taking place on the fourth floor of the Wall Centre, have been closed to the general public, a move that the B.C. Civil Liberties Association has sharply criticized as "potentially unlawful."
The effort to exclude the public has only galvanized more protest, however. On Tuesday, six activists staged a direct action, disrupting the hearings and using yellow police tape to cordon off the "climate crime scene." Police arrested the six, who were wearing t-shirts that read "Stop the Pipelines."
All six protesters were released from jail by Tuesday afternoon. A press release from them read, in part:
"Climate change is killing thousands of people every year, primarily in developing countries and Indigenous communities that are the least responsible for creating this problem. Despite this fact, the Joint Review Panel has instructed those participating in the hearings not to talk about climate change. This is a shockingly irresponsible move considering Canada's tar sands contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. New fossil fuel pipelines are an irresponsible step in the wrong direction," said Sean Devlin.
The impacts of climate change have been drawing global attention recently, between Hurricane Sandy, unprecedented deadly typhoons in the Philippines and previously unimaginable temperature records in Australia. In this urgent context the JRP has designated climate change and the carbon emissions of Canada’s tarsands "outside of the panel’s mandate," a move that officially discourages intervenors from raising these critical issues during their oral statements.
“Enbridge and the federal government are using their position of authority within this process to coerce members of the public into silence on these issues. The majority of First Nations and settler communities in the province oppose fossil fuel pipelines. We respect those who are voicing their opposition to the pipelines inside the hearings, but the hearing process is meaningless, especially since Harper has changed the law, giving his cabinet final say on pipeline projects," said Fiona De Balasi Brown.
Following today's Idle No More inspired rally, a creative action is scheduled to take place Thursday featuring "a giant blue drop." Symbolic of the fight to protect coastal waters, rivers and lakes from an oil spill, the blue drop has become a popular emblem of the anti-pipelines movement in B.C.
The JRP has been holding hearings on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline throughout B.C. and Alberta over the past months. A decision on the controversial mega-project is expected sometime late in 2013.
Photo: Murray Bush / Media Coop