CAW and CEP Take Part in Northern Gateway Pipeline Protests in BC

October 24, 2012, 3:40 PM EST

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CAW members in British Columbia joined with other trade union activists and protestors from across the province recently to speak out against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

More than 3,500 protestors gathered outside the B.C. legislature in Victoria on October 22 raising concern about the proposed route of the pipeline in northern B.C. and the devastating impact a spill from the pipeline would have on pristine ecosystems.

Susan Spratt, CAW B.C. area director, was co-master of ceremonies at the protest, which included members from a diverse group of labour unions including the CEP, BCTF, PSAC, CUPE (BC), BCGEU, and CAW. CEP President Dave Coles also spoke at the event.

"There is widespread opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline in this province which continues to grow," Spratt said. "We must ensure that all the voices in opposition to this pipeline are heard loud and clear and that the viewpoints of First Nations, fisherman, coastal workers, small businesses and residents throughout BC are not only raised but thoroughly understood and considered," Spratt said.

Enbridge plans to build a 1,100 kilometre dual pipeline carrying bitumen from Alberta to the BC coast. Regulatory hearings into that plan are being held in Prince George, B.C. Although the hearings are adjourned they resume October 29.
"We cannot continue to build new pipelines just to export raw bitumen overseas while leaving our own communities with no jobs or means to prosper," said CEP President Dave Coles. "We believe that Canada needs to focus on jobs that treat crude oil here in this country instead of rushing to grow our unrefined oil export capacity."

"In the face of growing opposition, Harper and his government does not have a choice but to back down on their export pipeline plans and start engaging with Canadians on their long-term energy needs," Coles said in a release.

Guy Johnson, a commercial fisherman who fishes for salmon and shrimp and who is a member of the CAW-United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union (UFAWU) spoke to the crowd outside the BC legislature about the importance of stopping the pipeline. Johnson stressed the vital importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems to sustaining fish and ocean life and the important coastal jobs the fishery provides.

The UFAWU-CAW made a formal written submission earlier this year to the Environmental Review Panel studying the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal. The 440 page submission outlines the socio-economic value of the commercial fishery on the BC coast and the devastating impact an oil spill would have on communities and the fishery.

Following the legislative protest, sit-ins and rallies were held October 24 outside NDP and Liberal MLA offices as part of the Defend Our Coast day of action, organized in part by Lead Now. These protests were held in at least 62 B.C. communities.

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