Montreal mayor cancels appearance to open proceedings, calling them a ‘circus’
CBC News, Aug 29, 2016
The National Energy Board hearings in Montreal into the proposed $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline were cancelled early into the proceedings Monday after protesters stormed into the room, prompting the commissioners to leave and resulting in at least two arrests.
The ruckus began before Mayor Denis Coderre addressed the hearings as the scheduled first speaker. He cancelled his appearance, calling the proceedings a “circus,” and said he may hold his presentation Tuesday instead.
After the protesters entered the room, one man ran to the table where the commissioners were seated and almost knocked it over.
NEB commissioners left the room and police entered soon after to remove the protesters.
Amid a police presence, about 200 people gathered Monday morning in front of the downtown Montreal venue for the hearings, with many expressing support for the project and others opposing it.
A large contingent of Canadian Piping Trades Union Local 144 members showed up in support of the project, and chanted “We want to work.”
But it was countered by a chorus of “we want to drink water,” by protesters concerned about the project’s potential impact on the environment.
Coderre was to appear at the hearings on behalf of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, just days after he called for their suspension after learning that federal energy officials met with a former premier lobbying for TransCanada.
The NEB apologized, says it did not know that Jean Charest was working with the company at the time.
Coderre has also repeatedly raised concerns about whether the potential environmental risks outweigh the pipeline’s possible economic benefits.
Three First Nations chiefs, among others, were also scheduled to address Monday’s proceedings.
The NEB is scheduled to hear from an array of speakers, in support of and opposed to the pipeline, as part of its process to decide whether to approve TransCanada’s bid to build the 4,500-kilometre pipeline that would transport crude oil from Alberta to Eastern Canada.
Hearings in several other cities, including Quebec City, are scheduled before concluding in Kingston, Ont., in December.
The board must submit its report by March 2018 after which the federal cabinet will have the final say on the project.