On his way out of a United Nations event Tuesday night in New York, Justin Trudeau was pointedly asked by a young Canadian about the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Turns out he’s going to be hearing a lot more on this topic. Today youth climate justice activists announced a rally and civil disobedience actions planned for Ottawa on Oct. 24.
Alex Dahlberg, a student in New York, introduced herself to Trudeau and said she was from Montreal, then asked, “Will you reject the Kinder Morgan pipeline?”
Trudeau responded, “We have a proper process, we have a proper process.”
The direct question was a sharp contrast from many of the clickbait softballs Trudeau’s been getting this week at the UN. And it’s just a small taste of what youth across Canada have planned in the coming months. With widespread speculation the Liberal government will approve Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline later this year, a new initiative of students and youth has been launched. “Justin Trudeau once said that ‘our future is the future of our young people.’ Building a tar sands pipeline is one of the greatest threats to that future,” reads the letter on the new Climate 101 website.
Keep it in the ground
Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline was approved by the National Energy Board earlier this year, and a decision from the federal cabinet is due before the end of 2016. During last year’s election campaign, Trudeau explicitly promised to redo the approval process, but instead his government cobbled together supplemental public consultations over the summer, at which over 90 per cent of speakers opposed the pipeline.
In recent days, national and international media have been full of speculation that Trudeau is leaning heavily toward approving Kinder Morgan. Notably, no one from the government has gone out of their way to deny the story.
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The looming decision on Kinder Morgan comes on the heels of a government announcement that it plans to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate this fall. The call to action published today takes aim at this contradiction. “It’s Climate 101 that meeting the commitments Canada made in Paris means keeping fossil fuels in the ground. That means rejecting the Kinder Morgan pipeline this December.”
“We showed up to vote for him and now it’s time for Justin Trudeau, the self-appointed minister of youth, to prove whether or not he wants to listen to our generation or just use us for backdrops in his selfies,” said Amanda Harvey-Sanchez, a third-year student at the University of Toronto, in a press release from Climate 101.
West coast wall of opposition
The latest polling shows public opinion in B.C. remains steadily opposed to the pipeline, and the mega-project is officially opposed by both the opposition New Democrats and the Liberal government of B.C., although Premier Christy Clark has left the door open to a change of decision.
The wall of opposition in B.C. has some climate activists optimistic, despite the wave of speculation that Trudeau plans to greenlight Kinder Morgan’s pipeline.
"Favouring a pipeline doesn't mean that Trudeau has made up his mind, and if there's one thing I learned from the Keystone XL fight, it's that people power can do a lot to change a politician’s mind on a pipeline,” Cam Fenton, an organizer with 350 Canada, told Ricochet by email.
And what will happen if Trudeau does approve this pipeline to the west coast?
“I think a Kinder Morgan approval would bring about something yet unseen in Canada,” said Fenton. “Think B.C.'s ‘war in the woods’ meets Standing Rock and you might be in the right ballpark."