Reporter’s Notes on Trudeau’s approval of Kinder Morgan pipeline

Like a lot of federal announcements on major projects, they tend to come down hastily with not much prep time for reporters, and less so for opponents to organize a fuss.  So it was with the prime minister’s decision to approve Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on Nov.30.

Self-published video report on the Trudeau announcement approving Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Conveniently, project opponents Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Tsleil-Waututh Sacred Trust manager Rueben George were out of town — two giants of any anti-Kinder Morgan rallies.  And onlookers to Trudeau’s plans, such as me, were scrambling to find out where the announcement was and when.  Not even the CBC knew if the prime minister was going to announce on Kinder Morgan —it reported that it only knew that the presser was concerning two other major pipelines: Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and Line 3.  It was kept secret to the very end.

Finally, Trudeau took to the airwaves with cabinet beside confirming what most had speculated: Liberals had approved the bitumen pipeline twinning project to Canada’s West Coast.  Out of habit, I screen captured the broadcast… useful for the video that I produced later that night, now going viral.

Then within an hour came word an “emergency rally” in downtown Vancouver was being organized.  I wondered how big it would be.  An earlier Nov.19 “No Kinder Morgan” weekend rally drew 5,000 in Vancouver by my estimate.  It was an event that included Vancouver’s and Burnaby’s mayors, with Mayor Derek Corrigan booming into a mic, asking the crowds to join him “in front of the bulldozers.”

But this latest Nov. 30 event was hasty.  Some 500 were there —gathered in front of CBC, with no stage, and nothing but a megaphone to amplify their voices.  I called one broadcaster to see if they wanted footage.  They wanted to know how many had gathered. If it were thousands, broadcasters would be more interested — that and perhaps the kind of clashes seen at Standing Rock, North Dakota. They also wanted to know, “why do they gather there?”  No reason, I surmised, other than it’s become a useful and central gathering spot, and one where reactionary crowds also gathered in June 2014 when Prime Minister Harper approved the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Still, Tuesday night, activist Shirley Samples reminded the crowd of how many had gathered at that same location in 2014, and how two years later, “today, Northern Gateway is dead!” she bellowed.  The prime minister had formally killed it in his announcements.  And that should give hope for stopping Kinder Morgan too, she added.

But this crowd was in no mood to celebrate.  Speaker after speaker expressed outage at Trudeau.  Notably popular Green city councillor Adrien Carr (who gathered more civic votes than any other on council last election) said she felt betrayed and disappointed in Trudeau’s Liberals —a government that promised to be a world leader on climate change and to respect Indigenous peoples on major projects.  She, and others present, promised to do non-violent acts of civil disobedience.  Others were more explicit —many said they’d get themselves arrested.

In response to the first “No Kinder Morgan” rally, Trans Mountain’s spokesperson Lizette Parsons Bell wrote me:
“We respect the right to peacefully protest and understand that there are a variety of views and opinions about our Project. For close to five years, our thorough and open engagement with a wide variety of communities has made our Project stronger, safer and has laid the foundation for us to build and operate the expanded pipeline in consideration of the many and varied interests we have heard.”

Stay tuned: pipeline politics are about to get incendiary on the West Coast.

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