MPs Elizabeth May and Kennedy Stewart show rest of Canada that B.C. pipeline concerns can't be dismissed
Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received another reminder of a broken election promise to British Columbia when two MPs engaged in peaceful civil disobedience.
Kennedy Stewart, who represents Burnaby South, and Green Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich and the Islands) were arrested for blocking access to Kinder Morgan's facility in Burnaby.
They did this in violation of a court injunction to highlight the illegitimacy of the National Energy Board regulatory review.
They were also expressing solidarity with local First Nations opposed to the project.
Before the 2015 election, Trudeau committed to developing a new review process for pipelines.
And in the video below, as Liberal leader, he said that this new process would apply to Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion once his party formed government.
After the election, that never happened.
Instead, the Trudeau cabinet approved the $7.4-billion project under the old rules created by the Harper government.
Trudeau's misleading pre-election promise helped his party capture a record number of Liberal seats in B.C.
It's worth emphasizing that Stewart and May are not newcomers to the pipeline issue.
They have likely spent more time researching and speaking about it than any other parliamentarians.
May was even an intervener at the NEB.
She has said on numerous occasions there was a glaring lack of evidence at the hearings on what happens when diluted bitumen is spilled at sea.
Stewart has educated his constituents about the pipeline route, mobilized community responses to the NEB, and worked closely with Burnaby council, which also opposes the project.
Prior to being elected, Stewart was a professor at Simon Fraser University, where officials are extremely concerned about a massive expansion to Kinder Morgan's tank farm at the base of Burnaby Mountain.
Review had major shortcomings
The NEB did not consider the climate impacts of increased greenhouse gas emissions that would come from increased production of fossil fuels. Kinder Morgan plans to nearly triple diluted bitumen shipments to 890,000 barrels per day.
The NEB didn't even evaluate the impact that the project would have on employment. And what appalled many pipeline-expansion opponents was the NEB's refusal to allow witnesses to be cross-examined.
"The process needs to be redone," Trudeau said before the election.
His refusal to keep that promise is what's led to the huge and continuing protests in Burnaby.
The prime minister has no one to blame but himself.
Today, there was also a demonstration outside the Vancouver Granville riding office of Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.
Time will tell if the Kinder Morgan pipeline project will spell the end of her federal political career in 2019.
In the meantime, Stewart and May are a reminder of civil disobedience heroes of the past, such as Rosa Parks and Mahatma Gandhi.
They're standing up against what they see an unjust government decision in a peaceful way and they're prepared to face the consequences.
"I hope I am leading by example," May told CTV's Omar Sachedina. "I believe matters of conscience are important."
Stewart and May recognize intellectually and feel in their souls the existential threat of climate change in ways that seem to escape many of their colleagues in Parliament.
These two MPs are ahead of their time. For this, they could end up being viewed with reverence by future generations.
However, the stunning increase in greenhouse gas emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution also raises serious questions how many of those future generations will be around to enjoy all that Earth has to offer.
The threat to humanity is real. The Canadian media remain stunningly complacent about it, as does the prime minister.
Given that Trudeau professes to be a Catholic, I'll leave the final words to Pope Francis.
"The idea of finite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers, and experts in technology...is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the Earth's goods," the Pontiff stated in a 2015 encyclical on climate change and inequality. "And this leads to the planet being squeezed dry at every limit."More