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Appeal to Justin Trudeau on climate and tar sands

November 15, 2015

Fossil-fuels-are-not-my-futureThe Liberal Party victory in Canada’s October 19 elections posed an urgent challenge for opponents of the country’s climate-destroying tar sands pipelines.

Justin Trudeau, the new prime minister, has indicated support for such pipeline projects, like Enbridge’s Line 9 and Trans-Canada’s Energy East. Yet he is also committed to reforming the country’s pipeline regulator in ways favourable to indigenous and community opponents of these ventures.

Trudeau’s policy on the broader issue of transitioning away from fossil fuels is similarly conflicted. The Liberals, like Canada’s other major political parties, are pledged both to reduce use of fossil fuels and support their expanded extraction.

Like many other anti-tar sands group, the committee in which I am active, Toronto East End Against Line 9, seized the moment, challenging Trudeau to carry out the positive elements in his program. Among its several initiatives was the following statement. I was among ten activists who contributed text or editing to this appeal, first published on the committee website. — John Riddell

An open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Protect us from climate change and tar sands pipelines

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:

You have promised that Canada will now do its part to

  • reduce the carbon emissions that cause climate change and
  • to make the pipeline approval process comprehensive and fair.

The Canadian people voted overwhelmingly for this agenda. The time for action has now come.

Make Canada a climate champion

Canada has a bad reputation for obstructing action on climate change and for polluting the world with its tar sands. When you go to the Paris Climate Change Conference in December, we ask you to tell the world that Canada is now committed to action for a clean-energy environment. Take specific commitments to Paris for rapid reduction of the emissions that cause climate change.

Please know that we, as a society, will support initiatives to decrease the daily damage that our society causes to the world’s climate.

Halt all tar sands pipeline projects

Unfortunately, the goals you have set are impossible given Canada’s present headlong expansion of tar sands extraction and pipeline construction. Tar sands and pipeline expansion violates First Nations’ land rights, destroys Canada’s boreal forest, escalates Canada’s carbon emissions, and speeds climate change around the world.

Projects to transport tar sands oil through pipelines like Line 9, Energy East, Northern Gateway, and Kinder Morgan lock Canada into disastrous tar sands dependency, while endangering First Nations and other communities with destructive and poisonous spills.

U.S. President Obama has shown the way by cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline. Your government should shut down Line 9 and all other tar sands pipeline projects and speed the transition to a clean energy alternative.

You should also stop rail shipments of explosive ‘Bakken oil’ from North Dakota, which killed 47 people when it blew up in 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec.

Line 9 lacks community consent

Enbridge’s aging and corroded Line 9 pipeline, which crosses Toronto just north of Finch Ave., was never intended to carry the abrasive and corrosive tar sands oil that Enbridge plans to pump through it. In July, Nexen’s brand new Alberta pipeline spilled five million litres undetected. Just imagine how easily a corroded forty-year-old pipe like Line 9 can spill.

Stop Enbridge-pipelineIn your campaign, Mr. Prime Minister, you stated, “Let me be very clear on this point: governments offer permits, but only communities can grant permission.” Neither Line 9 nor the other contested pipeline projects enjoy such community permission. We do not grant Enbridge or any other oil company permission to transport tar sands oil across our province and through our Toronto community.

Democratic decision making on pipelines

The Line 9 tar sands pipeline was imposed on Canada by a non-elected regulator, the National Energy Board (NEB), which reflects oil corporations’ views. We know from experience that the Board has not listened to community points of view.

Mr. Prime Minister, you promised to revamp National Energy Board (NEB) regulation of pipeline projects to make it “comprehensive, timely, and fair,” with “robust oversight.” You said that NEB environmental assessments must include “an analysis of upstream impacts and the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the projects.”

You have specified that change “applies to existing projects, existing pipelines as well… because we’re going to change the government and that process has to be redone.” Voters have changed the government. Now is the time for action.

These commitments provide a starting point for democratizing pipeline regulation and coming to grips with the danger posed to our community by Line 9.

We urge you to show real leadership by implementing this agenda.

East End Against Line 9 —
Facebook: Toronto East End Against Line 9

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