Hundreds show up to anti-Trans Mountain pipeline protest near Science World

Showing included Burnaby North-Seymour NDP candidate Svend Robinson, who called for a Canadian Green New Deal for a "just transition" into a green society

The fight against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion continues as the country awaits the next major decision from the federal government on the project.

Coast Protectors, the Georgia Strait Alliance and several other groups held a rally against the pipeline expansion at the park beside Science World Sunday afternoon, where speakers emphasized the urgency of climate action.

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That message, which riled up a crowd of several hundred, was articulated not only on the pipeline expansion project, but on B.C. liquefied natural gas, municipal zoning and the construction industry.

The protest comes only days before an expected announcement from the federal Liberal government following renewed Indigenous consultations on the project. Those consultations were ordered by the Federal Court of Appeal, which found previous consultations did not live up to the federal government’s constitutional duties.

Svend Robinson, NDP candidate for Burnaby North-Seymour, pushed a Canadian Green New Deal, which proponents say would transition into a net-zero-emissions society without leaving behind labour and marginalized communities.

“We need bold, transformative policies to phase out fossil fuels as fast as possible to leave much of the oil and gas in the ground, no new oil and gas infrastructure, a rapid transition to renewable green energy – in short, we need that Canadian Green New Deal,” Robinson told the enthusiastic crowd.

“We have to work respectfully, with our partners in the labour movement for a just transition, and nation to nation with indigenous peoples, we can create hundreds of thousands of good new jobs, good new jobs, in renewable energy, retrofitting homes and buildings, public transit, electrifying our power grid, building affordable housing, because we all know the market has failed.”

Svend Robinson pipeline rally
Svend Robinson shakes hands with attendees of the rally in opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline at Creekside Park in Vancouver following his speech. Photograph by JENNIFER GAUTHIER

Robinson said such a massive initiative could be paid for, in part, by halting federal subsidies to oil and gas, including the $40-billion LNG Canada project in B.C., which has major investment both from the federal Liberal Party and the B.C. NDP.

South Burnaby resident Penny Oyama, who has helped federal NDP campaigns in her riding, said she was at the rally because she believes the climate emergency is “truly the fight of our life.”

She offered her support for Robinson’s message, including pushing a Canadian Green New Deal.

“It’s all to do with justice for everybody,” she said.

“These [rally attendees] are the converted. These are the people that always come out to support this sort of thing. There’s a lot of familiar faces.”

She noted that the turnout was about normal for this type of event, but added that the people who “continually show up” will continue pushing for climate action.

“When doo-doo starts flying off the fan, these are the people who’ll be there and say ‘over our dead bodies,’ ” she said.

Oyama also urged those who are concerned about the climate emergency to take action not only during elections, but in day-to-day life.

“Get involved. Go to your MP or MLA’s office. Buttonhole the guy. Ask the difficult questions and ask for answers. We don’t have to wait until there’s an election going on and somebody decides to put together an all-candidates meeting. You don’t have to wait for that. You can do this every day.”

Other speakers included Christine Boyle, Vancouver city councillor; Rueben George, manager of the Tsleil Waututh First Nation’s Sacred Trust; Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Allie Ho, a local 17-year-old activist with the school climate strike.

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