Supporters of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion held five rallies simultaneously across B.C. on Saturday in Langley, Fort St. John, Kitimat, Smithers and Fort Nelson.
About 90 people attended the rally in Langley Township.
“The numbers that come out is not as important as the message that we’re delivering,” said Rick Peterson, founder of Suits and Boots, the group that organized the event .
Suits and Boots describes itself as a “grassroots organization that brings together business people from across Canada to support and defend Canada’s resource industry workers and their families.”
Peterson said the month-old Suits and Boots aims to balance the discussion about the pipeline by providing the viewpoint of people who think the project is a good idea.
“The anti-resource people are winning the ground game,” Peterson said.
The Langley event was hosted by businesswoman Tamara Jansen, who told those who attended that the arguments against the project were “nonsensical.”
“We have been quiet for far too long,” Jansen said.
“What we need to do is go back to good old fashioned common sense.”
Cheam First Nation Chief Ernie Crey said he is not the only First Nations leader to support the pipeline expansion, which he said has already produced jobs for their communities.
“We’re going to be involved in the construction of this pipeline,” Crey said, describing the risk of a spill as “imperceptible.”
“We’re not hesitating in our support,” Crey said.
Crey said the project opponents have been dominating the pipeline debate because they “were first out of the gates and put a lot of people on the ground.”
“A lot of these people come from (the) pasta and latte row on Commercial Drive in Vancouver,” Crey said.
Chilliwack-Kent Liberal MLA Laurie Throness said premier John Horgan was putting “his coalition with the radical Greens” over the interests of British Columbians.
Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Marvin Hunt called the protests against the pipeline “the absolute theatre of the absurd.”
Justin Greenwood, the interim deputy leader of the B.C. Conservative Party, was one of several speakers to blast the NDP government in Victoria for favouring train transport of oil over pipelines.
Referring to the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster that involved a massive explosion caused by a crash of tanker cars with petroleum crude oil, Greenwood said that was something no one wanted to see in B.C.
“It is in the nation’s best interest that this (pipeline expansion) be built,” Greenwood said.
The Langley rally comes five days before the May 31 deadline set out by Kinder Morgan to decide whether it will proceed with the Trans Mountain pipeline.