Canadian Police Arrest Protesters Blocking Proposed Path Of Tar Sands Pipeline


Protesters on Burnaby Mountain.

Protesters on Burnaby Mountain.

CREDIT: The vancouver sun/screenshot

Canadian police arrested anti-pipeline protesters in Canada Thursday, in an attempt to break up the blockade protesters have been maintaining for over a month against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

At least nine protesters were arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Thursday morning on Burnaby mountain in British Columbia, Canada. The protesters have been camped out at the mountain for weeks — some of them since September — to protest Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. As part of the pipeline’s route, Kinder Morgan has proposed digging a tunnel underneath Burnaby Mountain — something local residents aren’t happy about, as Burnaby mountain is home to a conservation area and hiking trails.

To voice their opposition to the pipeline’s route, protesters set up camp on Burnaby Mountain earlier this fall. About 40 protesters blocked Kinder Morgan surveyors from entering the park in late October, and soon after, Kinder Morgan called for a court order to force the protesters to stop occupying the park. Kinder Morgan was granted its injunction this month, but some protesters refused to leave the park, prompting Thursday’s arrests.

“It is very disappointing to me that this had to happen today,” Lynne Quarmby, a professor at B.C.’s Simon Fraser University who’s been involved in the protests told B.C.-based paper the Province. “I can only assume that the RCMP is under tremendous pressure from Kinder Morgan. It doesn’t really make logical sense any other way.”

Protesters haven’t wanted to leave the mountain because they say they have a right to protest and a right to be at the park.

“They’re accusing us of trespassing on city parkland which is a little absurd and bizarre to get my head around. It’s a strange thing that this U.S. based corporation can tell citizens in Canada you’re trespassing in a park,” another SFU professor, Stephen Collis, told the CBC in October. “I feel a kind of moral outrage boiling up after the initial shock that here in Canada we can be deprived of our constitutional rights, our democratic rights, our freedom to assemble, to raise our voices.”

Kinder Morgan has claimed that, for every month the Trans Mountain pipeline is delayed, it’s losing millions of dollars. The city of Burnaby, which is located east of Vancouver, has opposed Kinder Mountain’s route through the city, as have native Canadian groups along the pipeline’s path. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs told Reuters in October that native groups were planning on fighting the pipeline “until the bitter end,” and that their opposition to the pipeline was “widespread” and “vehement.”

Trans Mountain is one of multiple pipelines that companies hope will transport Canadian tar sands to shipping ports and refineries. The most famous of these — at least for Americans — is the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry the tar sands crude down through the Midwestern U.S. to refineries on the Gulf Coast. There’s already been a considerable amount of civil disobedience against Keystone XL in the U.S.: 22 people were arrested protesting the pipeline in June of last year, and hundreds were arrested in front of the White House this March. More than 96,000 people have signed a “Pledge of Resistance” against the pipeline, promising to protest the pipeline further — and possibly be arrested for it — if the pipeline is approved.