Hundreds protest oil tankers at march and rally in Vancouver

Hundreds of people marched through downtown Vancouver streets today (March 26) in a boisterous display of opposition to oil tanker traffic along British Columbia’s coast.

Organized by first nation and environmental groups, the demonstration came just days after the 23rd anniversary of the infamous Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

A noon rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery drew an estimated 1,000 protesters who chanted and held signs that read: “No tankers on our coast” and “Oil and water don’t mix”.

Speakers criticized Kinder Morgan’s planned expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to Burnaby and the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat.

Edwin Newman, of the coastal Heiltsuk Nation, said his community is firmly opposed to oil tanker traffic in B.C. waters.

“We are trying to protect a way of life, a way of life that we’ve enjoyed as Heiltsuk people and as coastal people since time immemorial,” he told the crowd.

“We’re pleading with our coastal neighbours to stand with us to fight this issue.”

A declaration was also read stating the Heiltsuk Nation will not allow pipelines and oil tankers in their territory.

U.S. environmentalist Bill McKibben spoke out against efforts to turn B.C. into a “carbon gateway” to transport oil to the rest of the world.

“We just can’t let that happen. That oil has got to stay in the ground,” he said.

McKibben also took aim at the federal government’s suggestion that “radical” groups are behind the opposition to pipeline expansion.

“Don’t ever let them say that to you. All we want to do is keep the world a little bit like it was when we were born into it.”

Simon Fraser University professor Mark Jaccard acknowledged the risks from tankers and pipelines, but cautioned that the environment faces a threat from more than just spills.

“Scientists are telling us that rising global temperatures from burning coal, oil, and natural gas will devastate ecosystems all over the planet, and that we’re heading rapidly to temperatures that the earth has not seen in millions of years,” he said.

“If we’re realistic about the threats to the ecosystems we want to protect, we must stop development of oil pipelines and oil tankers in B.C. But, at the same time, we have to convince the rest of society that fossil fuel expansion must stop now.”

Nikki Skuce, of the environmental group ForestEthics, encouraged people to fight expansion of oil tanker traffic.

“This battle will be tough and long. We know that. A lot of us have been fighting this for a long time, but we know that we’re going to win this one,” she said.

Also in the crowd were B.C. members of Parliament from the Green, Liberal, and New Democrat parties.

At the end of the rally, the noisy but peaceful protesters marched along busy downtown streets to the Enbridge office near Burrard and Pender.

The crowd, escorted by Vancouver police, blocked off the street outside the office building and chanted: “We say ‘no’ to Enbridge oil”.

The protesters began disbanding at around 2 p.m.

Comments (13) Add New Comment
AJ Klein
"Hundreds" is a huge understatement. One thousand is low also. Try thousands. No less than two.

What an amazing event. It's unfortunate that your article doesn't capture that.
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Cat
Couldn't agree more with AJ Klein.
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Jean
I agree with the estimates. Hundreds marched TO the rally at the Art Gallery and I think there were around 1,000 at the rally
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AJ Klein
Jean, I helped organize and execute the rally. There were upwards of fifteen hundred people - minimum.

Far more important than numbers though (aside, of course, from some media pawns saying there were only five hundred people present, and what that is indicative of) is the fact that allllllll those people came out on a cold, rainy Monday afternoon to stand up for our city and province. To stand up for what's right. What does that say?

It says we're done lying down while the powers that be do whatever they want with a country that is no more theirs than it is ours. Even less so, if one considers the fact that they swear an oath to serve the citizens. Times are changing, the power dynamic on planet earth is shifting, the governments are clearly scared and desperately trying to hang on to the power that they put before all else, and we're all wise to it.

And we're in the majority. By a long shot.

No more run-away, devil may care, business as usual, garden variety exploitation anymore, feds. So, so sorry. The people actually get a say about what happens in this country. Fancy that.

Anyone who wasn't there today missed an incredible experience. It was far more than a rally, it was proof of something we all needed to be reminded of. We can come together. As a community, as a nation, as a species. It's really not that hard if we all just move in the same direction.

We. will. win. this. Mark my words.
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Tom M.
?We just can?t let that happen. That oil has got to stay in the ground,? he said.

I bet this American walked all the way from Cali.
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Gentleman Jack
Nice to see the anti-evolution crowd out in force.

“Don’t ever let them say that to you. All we want to do is keep the world a little bit like it was when we were born into it"

All we want is stasis---we don't want to grow up and acknowledge the truth. Things Change. We want to remain in perpetual childhood forever!
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NoLeftNutter
Yawn, I wish the professional protesters and eco-weenies would actually live the no carbon life style that they endorse. Then they wouldn't own computers or have access to the internet. And, there would be more low cost readily available fossil fuels for the rest of us to enjoy. There's tens of thousands or acres in BC where you can live the lifestyle that you promote, why not go there?
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Mike_K
Sorry to the kids who won't have clean drinking water and arable soil. You don't need food or water if you have oil. Thanks
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Birdy
Stop wasting molasses. You're raping Gaia.
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Gloria
I can't believe how stupid people can be.

Harper is permitting China to buy out the tar sands. China refuses to pay Canadian wages. China can pay their own people, starvation wages. China refuses to pay WCB for injured workers. China is bringing their own people to work their vast tar sands projects. Why do you think? China refuses to have the oil refined in Canada? Because, they can pay their own people crap wages, to do the refining in their own country. Wake up people. The ones that profit the most are, the gigantic oil company's, Harper and Alberta to a lesser amount.

It's the same with BC. Campbell shipped BC mills to China, along with our raw logs. There were 51 mills shut down and cost our BC mill people, 131,000 jobs. China also owns BC mines. China is sending their people to school to learn English, they will bring their own people, to work those mines. If any of the seven mines, going into Northern BC are owned by China, they will bring their own people to work those too.

Has everyone forgotten what Fadden of CSIS warned? China is making huge inroads into Canada. So, we have Harper handing Canada to China and the U.S. on a silver platter.

Do you not remember what Christy said, she will have to import foreign workers, to work all the jobs coming up in BC. Well, Christy's foreign workers will be, mostly Chinese.

No way in hell, will we permit that dirty crap oil, coming anywhere near our beautiful province. Over 80% of the BC people are supporting the F.N....to fight to save their food sources. Not once did Harper ever mention, the threat of the F.N. food sources being destroyed. Not bloody once.
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hg
Do not forget the facts. The Excon oil spill 23 years ago devastated the Alaska coastline, the PR flack promised to make the Alaskan people whole. Yet despite a court order, Excon has not paid one single penny in compensation. The promised emergency clean up procedures, supposed to have been in effect where a complete fabrication. Less than 10 % of the oil was picked up. A spill like that would devastate all of the BC coast.
hg
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Peter Dimitrov
The reality is that Harper, as PM, can make an executive decision, that not withstanding the protests and even a 'against the project' report from the Joint Task Force doing the public hearings, that the Enbridge project is a green light go. The other reality is that Canada has recently signed an extensive trade agreement with China part of which, includes investor-protection provisions for Chinese investors.

In addition, most of the presenters at the Joint Task Force review panel have come out against the project. While that is good the reality is that I have seen no presentations to the panel that informs them how to carry out an effectual assessment of the hazards and risks and how to establish a more effective regulatory and corporate hazard management protocol - in the event that the project goes ahead.

I have read Enbridge's five scenarios of an oil spill risk assessment and they are seriously deficient. I do not however see the Joint Task Force regulator (nor First Nations nor Enviro organizations) providing informed input to require from Enbridge a vastly different aproach to risk assessment and hazard management -which implies -the hazard and risk mitigation to be imposed on Enbridge by the Joint Task Force and/or Harper's 'not- withstanding' green light decision will be highly deficient - making an accident even more inevitable.

Also, I understand Harper is proposing legislation to weaken both Federal Environmental Assessments - and protective legislation under the Fisheries Act.
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FreeTalkTV
We covered it! We "FreeTalk" with Vancouverites this last Monday.

Watch our last Episode (#9) - Oil On The Coast
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfPo0VkC_Yk

Let us know what do you think!
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