Tag Archives: Pipeline Protests

Ottawa ‘very concerned’ about blockades as CN Rail says it will close ‘significant’ parts of its network

Canadian National Railway Co. says it will have to temporarily shutter much of its national network because of protests affecting its rail lines. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Anti-pipeline protests crippling transport network will undoubtedly damage economy, minister says

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says the federal Liberal government is “very concerned” about growing anti-pipeline protests that are crippling parts of the country’s transport network, including one of the main rail arteries in southern Ontario.

J.J. Ruest, the president and CEO of CN Rail, said in a statement Tuesday the railway has no choice but to temporarily shutter “significant” parts of its network because blockades by Indigenous protesters near Belleville, Ont., and New Hazelton, B.C., have made train movements in the rest of the country all but impossible.

“We are currently parking trains across our network, but due to limited available space for such, CN will have no choice but to temporarily discontinue service in key corridors unless the blockades come to an end,” Ruest said.

Ruest said the protests threaten industry across the country, including the transport of food and consumer items, grain, de-icing fluid at airports, construction materials, propane to Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and natural resources like lumber, aluminum and coal.

“These blockades will have a trickledown effect on consumer goods in the next few weeks,” Ruest said.

Ruest said the impact of the blockades are “being felt beyond Canada’s borders and is harming the country’s reputation as a stable and viable supply chain partner.”

The Tyendinaga Mohawk action in southern Ontario has halted freight and passenger rail traffic since Thursday, snarling winter travel plans and the movement of Canadian exports. The Mohawks involved say they are standing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.

Tyendinaga Mohawk members said Tuesday they won’t end their demonstration until the RCMP leaves the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en, where there have been numerous arrests of protesters who have been blocking an access road to the natural gas pipeline construction site.

Members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory bring their protest to the CN/Via Rail tracks near Belleville, Ont., for a sixth day on Tuesday, in support of the Wet’suwet’en, who are fighting construction of a natural gas pipeline across their traditional territories in northern B.C. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

Via Rail has had to cancel 157 scheduled trips on the Toronto-to-Montreal corridor as of 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, leaving 24,500 passengers in the lurch.

The New Hazelton blockade has stopped traffic in and out of the Ports of Prince Rupert and Kitimat in B.C., among the country’s largest, halting waterfront operations.

First Nations workers affected, says shipping terminal CEO

Shaun Stevenson, the CEO of the Port of Prince Rupert, said the shipping terminal has nothing to do with the Coastal GasLink project and yet its operations, and the thousands of First Nations people who work there, have become collateral damage to the protests.

“We have in excess of 6,000 people that rely on the Port of Prince Rupert, its operations and its modes and nodes of transportation, for their livelihood in northern B.C.,” he said in an interview with CBC Radio’s Daybreak North. “The economic vitality of northern B.C. depends on the port.”

He said as many as 3,600 jobs — 40 per cent of the workforce is Indigenous — depend on a fully operational port.

“They’re involved in every aspect of the port operations; they’re entrenched in every facet,” Stevenson said of Indigenous peoples. “They have ownership stakes in terminals here. First Nations operate the largest trucking company with the port … we’re hopeful that a peaceful resolution can be reached,” Stevenson said.

Ruest said CN has obtained court injunctions that allow the police to remove the protesters in Ontario and B.C. so that rail traffic can resume.

Garneau said the continuing disruptions will undoubtedly damage the economy as CN moves tens of billions of dollars worth of goods over those tracks each year.

“The government of Canada is seized of the issue. We’d like to resolve it as quickly as possible, but it’s a complex issue. Hopefully we’ll resolve it as quickly as possible,” Garneau said.

Beyond the economic hit, Garneau said the protests are a risk to public safety.

“It is illegal. It infringes on the railway safety act. It’s dangerous to block the rails so we’re very concerned about it from that point of view,” Garneau said.

While concerned, Garneau said it is not for Ottawa to enforce court injunctions giving police the power to clear away Indigenous protesters. He said it is for provincial authorities to enact the removal orders — not Ottawa.

The Wetʼsuwetʼen hereditary chiefs maintain they have sole authority over 22,000 square kilometres of the nation’s traditional territory, and did not give consent to the Coastal GasLink proponent, TC Energy, to build in the area.

While opposed by the hereditary chiefs, all 20 First Nations impacted by construction of the natural gas project have signed impact benefit agreements with TC Energy. The elected Indian Act band council of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation has also given the go-ahead to TC to build the project, which will employ hundreds of local Indigenous people.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline is a key component of a $40-billion LNG Canada export terminal at Kitimat, B.C., under development to ship natural gas to international markets. It is on the territory of the Haisla Nation, which supports the project.

Objecting to #ShutDownCanada message

Conservative leadership contender Erin O’Toole said the government isn’t doing enough to support the police as they move to enforce the injunction against the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters camped out on the access road near the Coastal GasLink site.

He said the anti-pipeline protesters there have gone too far in their rhetoric.

“When I see people with a hashtag of ‘Shutdown Canada’ and signs calling the RCMP apartheid — there is a total disconnect with some people who feel that they can take protests to a stage of actually stopping people from working, stopping court orders; that’s very disruptive.

“I don’t think the Trudeau government has any plan to deal with it,” O’Toole said in an interview with CBC’s Power & Politics.

John Paul Tasker · CBC News · Posted: Feb 11, 2020


Enbridge Re-Examined Stake in Bakken Pipeline after Dakota Access Protests

Enbridge president and CEO Al Monaco attends the company’s annual general meeting in Toronto in this 2015 file photo. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Globe and Mail | May 11, 2017

The intense images of clashes between protesters and U.S. law enforcement at the construction site of the Dakota Access pipeline south of the border last year made Canada’s Enbridge Inc. reconsider its minority stake in the controversial project.

Chief executive Al Monaco revealed Thursday that he, the rest of the executive team, the board and other units of the Calgary-based pipeline company spent weeks re-examining their already-stated plan to acquire a 27.6-per-cent interest in the Bakken pipeline system – which includes the Dakota Access pipeline.

“It was hard to miss what was going on out there. And we were very concerned about it,” Mr. Monaco told reporters following his company’s annual general meeting.

“Frankly we spent a lot of time pondering this issue, given the circumstances,” he said. “We considered all kinds of alternatives, just like we do with any investment. This one had, certainly, a heightened degree of concern given what was going on.”

Mr. Monaco and other North American energy executives have argued that pipelines are now the “point of attack” for environmental opposition to new oil and natural gas projects. In early January, it became apparent that Enbridge had delayed its plan to acquire an interest in the Bakken properties for $1.5-billion.

What’s now clear is Enbridge’s unease was spurred by protests, and confrontations between U.S. law enforcement and opponents, at the Missouri River in Standing Rock, N.D. Construction was allowed to continue only after the project received a required easement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – the federal agency tasked with issuing permits for water crossings for such pipeline projects – under orders from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Enbridge finally decided to continue to move forward with the deal for the near-constructed pipeline after looking at the vetting the project had already received by operator Energy Transfer Partners LLC, including a number of route changes made in response to environmental concerns, Mr. Monaco said. Energy Transfer Partners and the Corps of Engineers “actually did a fair job, a good job, of listening to people,” he said, reiterating a promise to work closely with Indigenous communities affected by projects.

Oil shipments on the Dakota Access pipeline, now partially owned by Enbridge, are set to begin as soon as Sunday.

However, the protests against Dakota Access, and other oil pipelines, haven’t ended. A few dozen protesters gathered outside the Enbridge meeting on Thursday, speaking against both the Dakota Access pipeline and the $7.5-billion Line 3 replacement program, which will see the refurbishment and expansion of pipeline already in the ground.

Enbridge is waiting on draft environmental impact statement from Minnesota on Line 3. And while the project has received approvals in Canada, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has filed a court challenge, citing Canada’s climate change commitments and other concerns about water and the environment.

Lawyer Tara Houska of the U.S. Indigenous environmental group Honor criticized Enbridge proceeding with its Dakota Access investment given the treatment of protesters.

Ms. Houska, who is originally from Minnesota, also said affected Indigenous people are opposed to the Line 3 project “across the board.”

On Thursday, Enbridge reported lower first-quarter earnings due to the timing of its $37-billion Spectra Energy Corp. takeover and warmer weather in Southern Ontario.

First-quarter earnings were $638-million or 54 cents a share, compared with $1.2-billion or $1.38 for the same quarter last year.

The change came as a result of a number of unusual and non-recurring factors, the company said, including the timing of the closing of its Spectra takeover, the impact of warmer-than-normal weather on gas distribution franchises, and transactions undertaken in 2016 to strengthen the balance sheet.

The first-quarter results reflect about one month of the financial contributions from the assets acquired in Enbridge’s takeover of Houston-based Spectra, which closed at the end of February.

The fact that profits from Spectra assets for January and most of February are not included in this year’s first-quarter results had a significant impact, Mr. Monaco said. Those two cold, high-gas volume months typically provide a disproportionate amount of earnings compared to the rest of the year.

But Enbridge says the creation of what is now North America’s largest infrastructure company will generate billions in additional profits this year. Its full-year, post-merger guidance stands at adjusted earnings of as much as $7.6-billion, before interest and taxes. That compares with about $4.7-billion.

“We’re very pleased with how the companies came together. We had a seamless Day-One transition, and integration-wise, we’re on track,” Mr. Monaco said on a conference call.

“When we account for the effects of closing in February, we’re where we expected to be.”


How to Fight A Pipeline: Dakota Access Battle offers Blueprint for Protest

The tactics used in North Dakota — resistance camps, prominent use of social media, online fundraising — are now being used against several projects.

Staff – Red Power Media | April 08, 2017

Prolonged protests in North Dakota have failed to stop the flow of oil through the Dakota Access pipeline, at least for now, but they have provided inspiration and a blueprint for protests against pipelines in other states.

The months of demonstrations that sought to halt the four-state pipeline have largely died off with the February clearing of the main protest camp and the completion of the pipeline, which will soon be moving oil from North Dakota to a distribution point in Illinois.

Four Sioux tribes are still suing to try to halt the project, which they say threatens their water supply, cultural sites and religious rights. But they’ve faced a string of setbacks in court since U.S. President Donald Trump moved into the White House.

Despite the setbacks, Dakota Access protest organizers don’t view their efforts as wasted. They say the protests helped raise awareness nationwide about their broader push for cleaner energy and greater respect for the rights of indigenous people.

“The opportunity to build awareness started at Standing Rock and it’s spreading out to other areas of the United States,” said Dave Archambault, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has led the legal push to shut down the pipeline project.

As protesters left the area in southern North Dakota where the Dakota Access pipeline crosses under a Missouri River reservoir that serves as the tribes’ water supply, organizers called on them to take the fight to other parts of the country where pipelines are in the works.

The tactics used in North Dakota — resistance camps, prominent use of social media, online fundraising — are now being used against several projects. They include the Sabal Trail pipeline that will move natural gas from Alabama to Florida; the Trans-Pecos natural gas pipeline in Texas; the Diamond pipeline that will carry oil from Oklahoma to Tennessee; and the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline that will move natural gas from Pennsylvania to Virginia.

They’re also being used against projects that are still in the planning stages, including the proposed Pilgrim oil pipeline in New York and New Jersey and the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana.

Dakota Access opponents have also vowed to fight against the resurgent Keystone XL pipeline, which would move crude oil from Canada to Nebraska and on to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.

“A big part of our message was not just to nationalize the fight against Dakota Access, but to highlight regional issues that people are facing,” said Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “To use our momentum.”

The influence of the Dakota Access protest is evident in various forms. For example, some who protested in North Dakota have gone to Texas and Florida to help with those demonstrations, according to Goldtooth. The Red Warrior Society, a pipeline protest group that advocated aggressive tactics in North Dakota, is promoting resistance in other states via social media.

There are nearly a dozen accounts on the GoFundMe crowdfunding site seeking money to battle the Sabal Trail and Trans-Pecos pipelines. The Society of Native Nations, which is fighting the Trans-Pecos, used the protest camp model from North Dakota to set up a camp in Texas, according to Executive Director Frankie Orona.

“I really believe this momentum is going to stay alive,” said Orona. “Standing Rock was the focal point, was the root of this movement. If we learned anything from Standing Rock, it’s the power of unity. It wasn’t one (tribal) nation — it was more than 400.”

Hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of Dakota Access opponents congregated at the main protest camp for half a year, often clashing with police to draw attention to their cause. More than 750 people were arrested between early August and late February, when the camp was closed in advance of spring flooding season.

The prolonged protest garnered widespread and consistent attention on social media, and it has filtered down, to some degree, to the pipeline protests elsewhere. That has elevated activists’ concerns from local demonstrations to a national stage, according to Brian Hosmer, an associate professor of Western American history at the University of Tulsa.

“Social media makes it more difficult to shut off the camera,” he said. “In some way, they’re their own reporters and they don’t need the networks to report it. Social media connects the tribe; it now connects all of these separate groups.”

For now, the energy industry and its allies say they’re unconcerned.

The Dakota Access movement wrote the new playbook for pipeline opponents, but it might be less effective under Trump, said Craig Stevens, spokesman for the MAIN Coalition, a group of agriculture, business and labour entities that long spoke in favour of the pipeline. Trump approved its completion shortly after taking office and he has taken other steps favourable to the fossil fuel industry while rolling back Obama-era environmental protections.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican who has advised Trump on energy issues, said pipeline developers have learned to prepare for resistance, and he thinks the anti-pipeline movement will fade if protesters fail to achieve their goals and get discouraged.

Juliana Schwartz, senior campaigner for Change.org, which helps people and groups advance causes, disagrees, saying the environmental protest movement appears to be strong. A “people against pipelines” page on the group’s website recently listed 16 petitions related to energy projects — mostly pipelines — in more than half a dozen states, with nearly 725,000 supporters.

“The broader movement to stop resource extraction has taken inspiration from (Dakota Access),” Schwartz said. “I think we can expect to see this trend continue as more and more communities feel that their safety and health is under threat due to the president’s support of the fossil fuel industry over marginalized communities.”

Article written by Blake Nicholson, published in the Associated Press, on April 2, 2017

Contributing to this story were Associated Press writers Justin Juozapavicius in Tulsa, Oklahoma; David Warren in Dallas; Dave Kolpack in Fargo, North Dakota; and Ken Miller in Oklahoma City.


Non-Peaceful Pipeline Protests Will Be Met By Police And Military: Federal Minister


Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr answers a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.

Non-peaceful pipeline protests will be met by police and military, federal minister Jim Carr tells Edmonton business leaders

Edmonton Sun | Published Dec 1, 2016

Two days after the federal government approved two major pipeline projects, two feelings are surfacing in Alberta’s business sector — elation that the approval has finally been given and concern that protests may keep the line from being built at all.

“We’ve already heard in these few short days since the announcement some voices raised saying this is going to be a hill for them to die on,” said Paul De Jong, president of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, at an Alberta Enterprise Group-sponsored breakfast with federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr at the Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton Thursday.

De Jong, who represents companies that employ thousands of people in the construction industry, alluded to comments made by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May that she would go to jail to keep the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline — one of two approved by the federal government Tuesday — from being built.

Not everyone is taking the protest comments seriously.

“Elizabeth May has declared war on common sense and Canadian unity,” said Ric McIver, interim leader of the Alberta PC party, following Carr’s speech.

“We can’t let the pipeline get held up by people that will never agree to any standard,” he added. “The law of the jungle cannot prevail.”

Carr fielded questions from business leaders about the potential for protest escalating to the kind of civil unrest seen recently at Standing Rock in North Dakota.

He said he welcomes peaceful dissent but draws the line at breaking the law.

“If people choose for their own reasons not to be peaceful, then the government of Canada, through its defence forces, through its police forces, will ensure that people will be kept safe,” he said to applause from the room. “We have a history of peaceful dialogue and dissent in Canada. I’m certainly hopeful that that tradition will continue. If people determine for their own reasons that that’s not the path they want to follow, then we live under the rule of law.”

De Jong was happy with that response but remains cautious.

“In Canada we have a long tradition of building major infrastructure projects like railways and highways under the rule of law where there’s a fair negotiation for access to land and the effect it has on communities,” he said. “Once those decisions are made, people fall in line and our workers have always been pleased to work in that kind of safe environment. We now see the possibility that perhaps some conditions may be different.”

He said the companies that he represents have not had to deal with major protests in the past but employees are told to put their own safety first and he expects no one to put themselves at risk to get a project done.

For now, Carr is welcoming conflicting views to come forward.

“These decisions are in the best interest of Canada. They are difficult and they are controversial,” he said. “Those who feel as if they have been, for their own reasons, treated badly by this decision, we welcome to hear from them still, to know that peaceful protest is part of our DNA as Canadians. We respect it, we honour it and we cherish it.”


Thousands In Toronto March Against Dakota Access Pipeline

Demonstrators gathered in front of Ontario's legislature in Toronto on Saturday, November 5. (Mathieu Simard/CBC/Radio-Canada)

Demonstrators gathered in front of Ontario’s legislature in Toronto on Saturday, November 5. (Mathieu Simard/CBC/Radio-Canada)

Peaceful demonstration meant to show solidarity with U.S. protesters

CBC News Posted: Nov 05, 2016

Thousands of demonstrators marched peacefully in downtown Toronto on Saturday to show solidarity with protesters against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project in the U.S.

The march attracted at least 4,000 people, according to one organizer. It began in front of the Ontario legislature at Queen’s Park and included a stop at the U.S. consulate on University Avenue. It ended at Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto city hall.

Attendees said they wanted to show their counterparts in Standing Rock, North Dakota that Canadians are on their side.

“We want to show the people at Standing Rock that there are thousands of North Americans that want to stand with them, that want to show our support,” said demonstrator Nicolas Haddad.

Others described the Toronto rally as part of a global campaign.

“It’s a really beautiful, empowering movement here, where you can see people from across the world coming together to stand for the same cause, and stand for the earth,” said Camille Koon.

Peaceful demonstrators marched down Toronto's University Avenue towards city hall. (Mathieu Simard/CBC/Radio-Canada)

Peaceful demonstrators marched down Toronto’s University Avenue towards city hall. (Mathieu Simard/CBC/Radio-Canada)

Cheri DiNovo, MPP for Parkdale-High Park, told CBC News the demonstration was also meant to grab the attention of Canadian political leaders.

“The simple reality is that we’re here to support [the Dakota Sioux], but also to send a very strong message to our own governments, both provincial and federal, that this is treaty land, that you have to deal with First Nations, and that we need to keep the oil in the soil,” said Dinovo.

Pipeline protests

The Dakota Access Pipeline project would carry oil for almost 1,900 kilometres across four U.S. states, from North Dakota’s Bakken oil formation to pipelines in Illinois. From there, the oil would go to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Protesters have made a stand near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, calling for the pipeline to be rerouted. They say the pipeline and construction process pose a risk to local water supplies and sacred sites.