An excellent editorial is published today on Ricochet.ca describing the significance of The Battle of Burnaby Mountain and its meaning for the BC Federation of Labour convention presently in session. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera America has published an overview article describing the origin and history of the battle and some of its long-term political consequences for climate change politics in North America.
The battle in Burnaby, a municipality in the Vancouver B.C. region, is over the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline of Kinder Morgan. Beginning on November 17, daily protests involving thousands of people in total have taken place to stop exploratory drilling by Kinder Morgan for a tunnel under Burnaby Mountain to house its expanded pipeline, which terminates on the shore of Vancouver harbour. Dozens of people have been arrested as they challenge a court injunction permitting Kinder Morgan’s despoliation of the mountainside park site. And Kinder Morgan has initiated a $5.6 million SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) against outspoken opponents of its drilling on the mountain, including two professors at nearby Simon Fraser University, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE) and Burnaby Mountain Caretakers.
Here is a timeline of the battle. Here is an analysis of the economics of the pipeline, and here is an article arguing that Kinder Morgan’s recent financial restructuring has broken Canadian law as it relates to pipeline regulation.
The stakes in the fight in Burnaby for the union movement are very large. To date, unions in British Columbia, as in the rest of Canada, are uncertain or divided on whether they should support the ongoing expansion of fossil fuel extraction and burning in Canada, including tar sands oil, “conventional” oil, coal and natural gas fracking. Their political party, the NDP, supports many of the fossil fuel projects and their expansion while it is mute on others.
Yesterday, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs electrified the convention of the Federation of Labour when he spoke as a guest speaker. He announced that he would join the now-daily, 10:30 a.m. solidarity march at the mountain in two days time. He will cross the police/injunction line and challenge authorities to arrest him. “I intend to go to Burnaby Mountain on Thursday to join those who have been arrested. As I am being arrested, I will think of our grandchildren.” The convention rose in a standing ovation.
A call has been issued by delegates at the convention to rally on Burnaby Mountain today, following the close of the day’s session at 5 p.m. The call is here, text enclosed. The theme of the rally is “No good jobs on a dead planet.” Delegates take transit from downtown at 5 p.m. Heavy rain in the forecast.
Ongoing news of the Battle of Burnaby Mountain is available on the Facebook page “Burnaby Mountain updates.”
The fight in Burnaby takes place as opposition to TransCanada Pipelines’ proposed Energy East tar sands export pipeline to the St. Lawrence River and Atlantic Ocean is heating up considerably in Quebec. On November 23, former Quebec student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois announced on a widely watched television panel program that he was donating a $25,000 book prize to one of the coalitions that has sprung up against Energy East, “Coule pas chez nous” (Not in our yard!). He also appealed to the people of Quebec to join him in financially supporting the campaign. In the first two days, more than $300,000 was received by the campaign page Doublons la mise et bloquons les oléoducs (Let’s double down and block the oil pipelines!). Here is a translated video of Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois’ announcement.
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No jobs on a dead planet — Rally on Burbany Mountain
Calling all delegates of the B.C. Federation of Labour 2014 Convention. Come out and stand in solidarity with land defenders!
Meet in the lobby of the Convention Centre on Wednesday, November 26 after adjournment. We’ll be taking the SkyTrain and bus to the mountain together. Bring union flags and signs. All labour activists that aren’t at Convention are encouraged to join in as well and meet us at Burnaby Mountain. Come out and make history!