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Bloquons Les Sables Bitumineux

by Climate Justice Montreal

Bloquons Les Sables Bitumineux
Oil Spills, Capitalism Kills
Oil Spills, Capitalism Kills

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*Before we begin, we would like to acknowledge the Mohawk Nation whose territory on which we are currently occupying.


Just as we come here today to challenge the alberta tar sands and the fossil fuel industry, we also strive to honour the Two Row Wampum, and foster positive relationships while challenging destructive ones.


In land protection, we are taking direction and leadership from Indigenous struggles and knowledge.  Safeguarding our land and water is an anti-colonial struggle, not simply an environmental one.  It is important to always incorporate this into our critical analysis.  We are here as a result of blood that has been shed by colonization, and our clean land and water is here thanks to the stewardship of those who came 7 generations before us.


Our land acknowledgement does not exist in a past tense, or his/herstorical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation.*


As this statement is released, Climate Justice Montreal is demonstrating in opposition to TD Bank, and by proxy the Alberta Tar Sands. We have done this to raise awareness to TransCanada's new pipeline retrofit proposal, the Energy East, as well as Enbridge's standing Line 9 Reversal proposal, which TD Bank has $1.7 billion invested in. Both pipelines wish to bring Tar Sands “DilBit” here to the island of Montreal, and beyond. We find it unacceptable for our institutions to condone the expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands, and demand that our city reject these projects which would carry toxic diluted bitumen from the Tar Sands through our communites and watersheds, endangering our environment and ignoring the treaty rights of indigenous communities along the way.


“Dilbit is a product with the consistency of peanut butter mixed with sand, which is then mixed with carcinogens and other poisons, and then pumped through pipelines with added pressure,” Jamie Sanders clarified. “As a result, it is absolutely more corrosive and likely to spill – especially when it’s being put through antiquated pipes not designed to carry the product.”


Enbridge’s Line 9 was built in 1975 to transport imported oil from Montreal to refineries in Sarnia, Ontario. On November 29th 2012, Enbridge applied to Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) to reverse its direction of flow, to pipe Albertan oil to Montreal. The pipeline giant admits that among the possible uses of Line 9 is transport of “heavy oil,” a category that includes diluted bitumen, the hazardous raw material extracted from tar sands.


TransCanada's Energy East is a 4,400 km long pipeline conversion project, the converted part will come from 50-year old natural gas mainline which will be retrofitted to transport Tar Sands bitumen. In the last 50 years, the mainline has had 5 significant incidents, including 4 explosions and a double rupture. It is proposed to carry 1.1 million barrels of Tar Sands bitumen from Hardisty, Alberta to St. John, New brunswick, enabling a 50% increase in tar Sands production.


For years concerned Montrealers have been organizing to raise awareness around the injustices of the Alberta Tar Sands, the dangers of climate change, and of the need to transition to renewable energy and leave fossil fuel sources in ancient history. Now as the Tar Sands megaproject finds other avenues of escape from inland being blocked or exhausted, they have decided that east is the path of least resistance. In trying to work against this, what we found was a rigged game. Political parties most indebted to the oil industry have taken spectacular measures to remove the usual environmental oversights from Line 9 and other pipeline projects like Energy East. These projects are, from the perspective of the powerful, a foregone conclusion and they have insultingly offered only the most meaningless opportunities for public engagement.


Of course, we understand that even if there had been a full Environmental Assessment, this project would still be going ahead. If anything, the federal government simply had the good courtesy to be honest that they don't really care what the public thinks. Although we have few illusions about process, it is very much the case that the removal of the usual process is what has lead to this exceptional step of disrupting business as usual. While being primarily a symbolic blockade, we hope that it sends a clear message that we will not be silenced, and that we will do everything in our power to stop the expansion of the Tar Sands. Deprived of all other options for dissent, the move to direct action is obvious to even the most law-abiding of people. Perhaps we should thank the federal government for removing the usual sham of participation to make it clear that there is no pipeline debate – there is just a pipeline fight.


These pipelines cross the territories of dozens of Indigenous nations along its route, including the Kanien'kehà:ka (Mohawk) people of Kanehsatà:ke who have previously expresed opposition to Enbridge's Line 9. “This is just the beginning, we’re not going to let Enbridge off just because today we’re going back to our homes,” Ellen Gabriel said at a rally in kanesatake on July 11th, “We’ve got to make the message clear; that dirty oil is not acceptable, fracking is not acceptable, and the theft of our lands, the status quo under the Indian Act and under colonialism, is not accepted.”


Climate Justice Montreal formally demands that the Ville de Montreal formally opposes the importation of Tar Sands oil. We are all #directlyaffected.

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