The Council of Canadians at the #Surround the White House protest, November 2011

Change the conversation, support today.

The Harper government’s foreign affairs minister John Baird met with U.S. secretary of state John Kerry in Washington, D.C. last week. Baird has commented, “We had a good discussion with regard to Keystone. We spoke about making a decision based on science and based on facts. Obviously the Keystone XL pipeline is a huge priority for our government and for the Canadian economy.” Last weekend, Baird also took the opportunity in a telephone conversation with Kerry to press for the U.S. State Department’s approval of the pipeline. The U.S. decision is expected as early as this coming April.

The Council of Canadians continues to encourage its supporters to counter Baird’s message — and to make it clear that the Harper government does not speak for us when it lobbies in the U.S. in favour of KXL — by attending a major rally in Washington this coming Sunday, February 17. Twenty-thousand people are expected to converge at the Washington Monument on the National Mall for the #ForwardOnClimate march to the White House to help the Obama administration make the right decision — no Keystone XL tar sands pipeline! Among the various activities happening next Sunday, a human pipeline down 15th Street, colourful banners, and more than 15,000 placards conveying a strong climate justice message.

A Canadian presence at this rally is important as Canadian ambassador Gary Doer and Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall continue to work to secure U.S. approval of the pipeline. Wall recently sent a letter to President Obama asking for his support, and the Globe and Mail has reported, “Doer has led a long and sustained lobbying effort promoting Keystone XL and will keep pressing.” Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has stated, “The ambassador has become the chief salesman for the energy industry.” And we echo comments by Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union president Dave Coles who recently stated in New York City, “The Canadian government’s aggressive lobbying in the US in favour of the pipeline is an embarrassment.”

The website for the #ForwardOnClimate rally highlights, “Just over a year ago, 15,000 people surrounded the White House — and President Obama listened, delaying the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. February 17th is our best chance to show the President how strong this movement has become since then.” For more information and to sign-up for the protest, please go to

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Brent Patterson

Brent Patterson is a political activist, writer and the executive director of Peace Brigades International-Canada. He lives in Ottawa on the traditional, unceded and unsurrendered territories of the Algonquin...