About 100 people showed up outside Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr’s office Monday afternoon to protest the federal government’s purchase of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and the plan to twin it between northern Alberta and the B.C Lower Mainland.
The protest, organized by Lead Now, was not only aimed at the government’s purchase of the existing pipeline assets from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion, but also at Ottawa’s insistence the expansion project proceed despite mounting opposition from individuals and indigenous communities across B.C., as well as the B.C. government.
“We are opposed to the pipeline (expansion project) not only from an economic and environmental standpoint, but also because it infringes on the rights of First Nations,” said Korey Zepike, organizer of the Kelowna rally on behalf of Lead Now.
The controversial pipeline project was bought by the federal government last week as part of its purchase of the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline assets. Kinder Morgan was threatening to shelve the expansion project if it did not get assurances by the end of May it could proceed with out the B.C. government trying to block it. B.C.’s minority NDP government has launched a court action that could hold up the project.
One protester, Kristin Staley, said she voted for Fuhr in the last federal election but will not do so again because of the Liberal government’s support of the pipeline expansion. And she held a sign saying so.
The federal government says that the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion is in the national interest, a position protesters in Kelowna dispute.
While Ottawa paid $4.5 billion for the existing 65-year-old Trans Mountain Pipeline assets and the right to expand the pipeline, it is estimated that expansion could cost another $7.5 million to complete. The federal government says it wants to sell the pipeline back tot he private sector as son as possible—either before or after the expansion is complete.
Zepik, who presented a thumb drive containing 3,300-page petition with 100,000 signatures of Canadians opposed to the expansion project to Fuhr’s staff at the MP’s office in downtown Kelowna, said he believes the federal government paid more than four times what the existing pipeline assets are worth.
“It wasn’t a good deal for Canadians,” he said.
Fuhr was not in Kelowna Monday to speak with protesters, he was in Ottawa according to his staff.
In addition to hearing several speakers, including former Kelowna West B.C. Green Party candidate Robert Stupka speak out against the pipeline project Monday, protesters also marched from the MP’s office on St. Paul Street a couple of blocks to Bernard Avenue and back, chanting anti-pipeline slogans.
Stupka said the project doesn’t make economic sense and will not allow Canada to meet its climate change goals.
The protesters who showed up for the rally carried a wide array of signs signalling their opposition to Ottawa’s move and its support for the pipeline expansion project. Some read: “Stop the Kinder Morgan Buyout,” “No Tankers,” “Water is Life,” while others were aimed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, such as “Justin Just Sold His Kids Out,” and “Trudeau the Hypocrite. Vote Justin Out in 2019.”
The Kelowna protest was one of several held Monday across B.C. outside MP’s offices.
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