Opposition movements against four megaprojects linked to the Alberta oil sands are increasingly connected, according to Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, an author, environmental activist, and former leader of the 2012 student strike in Quebec.
In British Columbia, attention is focused on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, proposed to carry heavy crude from the Alberta oil sands to Kitimat, and the twinning of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs from Edmonton to Burnaby. A major political controversy south of the border is the Keystone XL pipeline, which U.S. President Barack Obama has stood against. And in eastern Canada, there is TransCanada’s Energy East project, proposed to connect and expand on existing pipelines to see tar-sands crude carried from Alberta all the way to Saint John, New Brunswick.
“People in Quebec are asking themselves a question,” Nadeau-Dubois said on the phone from Montreal. “That question is, do we want to become a highway for the export of one of the dirtier forms of oil in the world? More and more, Quebecers are saying, ‘No, we don’t want to become that export platform for the tar sands.'”
Nadeau-Dubois, who is scheduled to speak at a public forum at SFU Harbour Centre on Friday (May 8), told the Straight he plans on giving B.C.’s anti-pipeline movement an update on similar activities gaining momentum in the country’s east.
“We are really beginning to be able to have a global debate about greenhouse-gas emissions and the tar sands in particular,” he said.
“People and communities are, more and more, realizing that most projects have very local and concrete risks for ecosystems and communities, and that they also represent a global threat to the climate…which is the significant increase of greenhouse-gas emissions that will come with pipelines.”
The trip to Vancouver will also let Nadeau-Dubois meet with high-profile members of B.C.’s environmental movements, he revealed. Meetings are still being scheduled, but a number of First Nations leaders are on the schedule. Cecilia Point of the Musqueam Band will introduce him at the SFU event, and Ricochet Media editor Ethan Cox will be in attendance to moderate a Q&A. Also tentatively on Nadeau-Dubois’s agenda is Ben West, who in recent years organized two of the largest anti-pipeline demonstrations in the province’s history.
“I’m really looking forward to hearing what they think are the reasons for success for their mobilization movement and what are the challenges they met,” Nadeau-Dubois said. “I think we really have to learn from each other.”
Turning to current events, Nadeau-Dubois addressed concerns the May 5 election of Rachel Notley and an NDP majority in Alberta will slow progress moving against the Energy East pipeline project. Notley opposes Northern Gateway but supports Energy East, which is projected to carry 1.1 million barrels of oil per day upon completion.
“It is not very surprising for me to see that the premier of Alberta is in favour of it,” he said. “We never really hoped for the support of Alberta’s government.”
Nadeau-Dubois added the so-called “Orange Crush” in Alberta should similarly change nothing for the federal NDP.
“All the polls here, they all suggest the same thing: a vast majority of people in Quebec are against that very controversial project,” he said. “So my message for the federal NDP is pretty clear: if they want to keep the vote and keep their ridings in Quebec, they will have to have a much clearer position on energy.
“If Thomas Mulcair wants to be considered as an alternative to Stephen Harper, he has to have a different perspective on the very important issues of pipelines and energy.”
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is scheduled to speak at SFU Harbour Centre on Friday (May 8) at 7 p.m.