Hundreds of people gathered yesterday outside the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre to send a peaceful message to the prime minister.
The hotel is the site of National Energy Board hearings into Kinder Morgan's plan to build a new $5.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline. If approved, it would nearly triple oil shipments from Alberta to the Lower Mainland to 890,000 barrels a day.
The demonstrators, including representatives of many environmental groups, want the federal government to devise a new process for reviewing the proposed project.
"This current process is fundamentally flawed," the Tsleil-Waututh Nation's Sacred Trust Initiative's Carleen Thomas said in a statement released after the event. "It does not reflect the importance of indigenous laws or obligations to protect the lands, air and waters. It does not allow the grassroots citizen an avenue to voice their concerns. It is in no way, shape or form a public process, when those who will be 'directly affected' are left to stand outside the hearings. How transparent and democratic is that?"
Thomas ran as the NDP candidate in North Vancouver in the last federal election.
Kinder Morgan's subsidiary, Trans Mountain, claims on its website that pipelines are the "safest and most efficient method to move petrolem products over great distances on land".
It notes that one pipeline carries the equivalent of 1,400 tanker truckloads or 441 tanker railcars.
Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May has countered that the real debate should not be over pipelines versus rail. Rather, she maintained that it's between processing bitumen in Alberta and processing abroad.
The company acknowledges on its website that if the project is approved, it would increase the number of tankers loaded at Westridge Marine Terminal from five to "approximately" 34 per month. This adds up to 408 oil tankers travelling through Burrard Inlet each year.
Prior to the election, the Liberal Party of Canada pledged to "make environmental assessments credible again".
Among the promises was one to "ensure that decisions are based on science, facts, and evidence".
Another Liberal promise was to "ensure that environmental assessments include an analysis of upstream impacts and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from projects under review".
Earlier this week, Burnaby councillor Sav Dhaliwal told the Georgia Straight that Trudeau has not kept these promises, which also included a pledge to modernize the National Energy Board.
“Those were very clear commitments,” Dhaliwal told Straight reporter Carlito Pablo, “and you know, if you recognize the process is not working, if you recognize that the process has been politicized, if you recognize the NEB … has been politicized, then why would you want to proceed with one more pipeline under that broken process?”