Civil disobedience planned for October to defend Canada's west coast from tar sands pipelines and tankers

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Over 80 influential leaders from the business, First Nations, environmental, labour, academic, medical and artistic communities across Canada today announced an upcoming mass sit-in in front of the provincial legislature in Victoria, British Columbia on October 22. The sit-in will oppose tar sands pipelines and tankers and the threats they would pose to the west coast.

"There are moments in history when it's clear that our elected leaders are failing us and it is necessary to take a stand,” said prominent author and environmentalist Tzeporah Berman. “Today we are stating our intention to defend our coast and calling on others to join us. The risk of oil spills and irreversible harm to our tourism and fishing industries from these pipelines and tankers is just too great.”

Over 80 community, union, business and First Nation leaders have endorsed the October 22 sit-in, including Stephen Lewis, David Suzuki, Maude Barlow, Naomi Klein, Tom Goldtooth, David Coles, Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, John O’Connor, and Tony Clarke. You can view the full list at defendourcoast.ca.

The October sit-in builds on the success of protests against tar sands expansion and pipelines that have taken place in the U.S. and Canada in recent months. The August 2011 sit-ins in Washington D.C. that helped delay approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and the September 26, 2011 sit-in in Ottawa that helped put Canadian tar sands pipeline proposals in the national spotlight.

“We’re meeting in Victoria to show that you can’t gut Canada’s environmental legislation and try to put a price tag on the B.C. coast without a public response,” said Maude Barlow, Chair person for the Council of Canadians. “Canada’s iconic coast is far too valuable to risk on tar sands pipelines and tankers and we pledge to defend it.”

“This October, we pledge to defend our coast and the mountains, rivers, forests, wildlife and First Nations communities of B.C. against tar sands pipelines and tankers,” said Susan Spratt, Western Regional Director of the CAW. “We want long-term green jobs that will take us beyond fossil fuels, not short-term high risk pipelines.”

Organizers expect people from across Canada to join British Columbians in calling on elected officials to stand up for Canada’s west coast and the rights of First Nation peoples.

“We hope people from all walks of life and from across the country join us in Victoria and defend the natural beauty and cultural richness of the B.C. coastline,” said Chief Jackie Thomas, Saik'uz First Nation. “We will be there to show the widespread opposition to tar sands pipelines and tanker proposals and to show the strength of the support for First Nations people’s rights to land and title and the internationally protected right to free, prior and informed consent on any development impacting our traditional territories.”

People can sign up online at www.defendourcoast.ca to participate and become a coastal defender.

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