The mayor and MP for Burnaby joined aboriginal protesters Monday to express their determination to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, as the federal and Alberta governments stepped up efforts to move the project ahead.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan of “obedience to the corporate will” of Kinder Morgan Canada.
“We’ll continue in the City of Burnaby to fight this project to our last breath,” Corrigan told a news conference at Simon Fraser University’s downtown campus.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs praised Horgan for his efforts to oppose the project. Phillip dismissed as “aspirational agreements” the support of the project by more than 40 Indigenous communities along the route of the pipeline from central Alberta to the B.C. coast.
Speakers stressed the federal and B.C. governments’ pledge to support the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, arguing it requires consent of ever affected community.
“The Trudeau government is betraying their promises to British Columbians and First Nations,” said Khelsislem (Dustin Rivers), councillor of the Squamish Nation.
Aboriginal leaders, opposition MPs and about 200 other protesters found out Monday they are facing criminal contempt of court charges for violating a court order around the Trans Mountain work area in Burnaby.
Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May, one of those charged for breaching the court injunction at the work site, objected to Trudeau’s pledge to assist the project financially.
“I am appalled that our federal government is prepared to take public financial resources to push through an ill-conceived pipeline,” May said.
The renewed protest comes as the Alberta government presented legislation Monday to give it the power to restrict petroleum product exports across its borders. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the bill applies to shipments of refined fuels and natural gas as well as crude oil, and is a response to B.C.’s attempts to block an increase to pipeline capacity.
“We did not start this fight, but let there be no doubt we will do whatever it takes to build this pipeline and get top dollar in return for the oil and gas products that are owned by all Albertans,” Notley said.
After a meeting with Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa Sunday, B.C. Premier John Horgan said he intends to continue court actions to see if the province has the jurisdiction to regulate the transport of diluted bitumen.
Trudeau said the federal government is moving ahead with financial and legal measures to ensure the Trans Mountain project is built.