Legislature protest

Gas: the other pipeline showdown

Protesters may smear themselves with faux crude oil, but the LNG boom seems to be their new fashion

VICTORIA – The prospect of piping diluted heavy oil across northern B.C. and loading it in tankers has generated significant genuine protests, as well as bursts of celebrity nonsense, rent-a-stunts and instant online petitions.

Natural gas pipelines and export terminals, on the other hand, are generally accepted by the public. Premier Christy Clark staked her political future on developing liquefied natural gas exports, and pulled off an upset election win that not even Clark expected.

Most of the heat she’s taken on that is focused on her extravagant predictions that LNG will pay off the debt and maybe even get rid of our sales tax.

But as I predicted 18 months ago, there’s a shift in the target of professional protesters to natural gas. A reminder of that awaited me on a morning walk to the B.C. legislature during the last week of the May session.

At the front gate stood a young woman in a bikini top and shorts, her skin smeared with a dark material, presumably to simulate crude oil. She waved to passing traffic, stretching a banner promoting a website for the “Unist’ot’en camp.”

Legislature security intervened to clear the entry walkway before I could ask the protester who was paying her. The fundraising website she was promoting hadn’t been updated since March, but this isn’t the first time this camp has been promoted here.

Chevron’s Burnaby oil refinery was also targeted May 30 by protesters who locked themselves to a gate with bicycle locks and chains. They also cited the Unist’ot’en camp and their aim to stop the Pacific Trails pipeline.

The camp came to my attention last summer, when it was promoted by one of Victoria’s chronic anarchist protesters, a woman who goes by the name Zoe Blunt. Blunt and other southern protesters documented their trip north to support the camp’s stated goal, to stop the Pacific Trails gas pipeline, planned to supply the Chevron-Apache liquefied natural gas terminal near Kitimat.

The camp is on Crown land near Smithers. It was established at the end of a one-lane bridge by two members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. While that community’s elected council maintains a respectful relationship with the B.C. government, the splinter group that backs the camp has confrontation in mind.

The Unist’ot’en website is a jumble of demands and claims that alternates between the Pacific Trails gas pipeline and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal. Like the woman at the legislature, if you want it to be against oil, it’s against oil.

A clearer picture of this situation is provided by a relentless blogger named Greg Renouf, who specializes in investigating protesters across Canada. His blog should be required reading for reporters who are presented with slick banners and posturing protesters.

Renouf follows the money as well as the familiar faces who pop up at protest after protest. In April he reported that the increasingly militant Council of Canadians is supporting the Unist’ot’en camp, along with what he describes as “a host of NGOs, unions, militant anarchists and professional protesters.” They include Harsha Walia, who organized violent protests against the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Meanwhile in the real world, TransCanada Corp. announced last week its subsidiary NovaGas Transmission has signed an agreement with Chevron and Apache for a gas pipeline that will connect to Pacific Trails. It’s one of four gas pipelines TransCanada has in development for what is planned to be the biggest industrial investment in B.C. history.

They can smear it with oil, but gas is the protest industry’s latest target.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

Saanich councillor fears weed could crowd out food as greenhouses convert

Head of provincial association representing greenhouse vegetable farmers not worried about issue

Taking risks: Victoria theatre expert and author gains traction for his new model of tragedy

Edwin Wong releases Risk Theatre book, hosts successful global playwriting competition

Experience automotive classics and more at the Vancouver Island Concours d’Elegance

Motorcar Weekend features Show and Shine, high-end Concours division, all for a great cause

Langford veteran rehab program takes multi-tiered approach to treating pain

Clinic ‘bio-psycho-social approach to healing’ from Victoria to the West Shore earlier this year

Sunny skies ahead for Tuesday

Plus a look ahead at your week

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Police seek tips in 2015 death of Island teen Brown

Four years has passed since the body of Penelakut Island woman was discovered

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Most Read