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Nelsonites rally at City Hall to send message to politicians and Big Oil

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
October 25th, 2012

Hoping to ride the wave of Monday’s Defend Our Coast sit-in in Victoria, 300 protesters gathered at Nelson City Hall courtyard to send a message to politicians and Big Oil, pipelines and tankers transporting bitumen are not welcome in B.C.

“This is a wonderful turnout . . . there are over 300 people here,” organizer Keith Wiley said following the afternoon rally.

“Nelson is really concerned about these pipelines and bitumen transported across B.C.”

The rally was one of more than 60 planned throughout B.C. — including Castlegar — as environmentalists attempt to turn up the heat on government, both federal and provincial.

Starting with Wiley, who along with Tom Nixon traveled to Victoria Monday to be part of the 3,000-strong mass sit-in, speakers rallied the crowd do everything in their power to send a clear message to B.C. Premier Christy Clark, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Alberta Premier Alison Redford, B.C. is not prepared to risk environmental disaster so the one percent can reap the benefits.

“It’s a movement and it’s a new way of being in Canada,” Wiley said.

“We’re changing direction. We’re not going to sell our environment for any kinds of oil profits or the economy any more.”

Other speakers included Michael Jessen of the Green Party, Nelson City Councillor Candace Batycki, David Reid, Executive Director of the West Kootenay EcoSociety, Wiley’s traveling partner Tom Nixon along with speeches from representatives of provincial and federal reps, Michelle Mungall and Alex Atamanenko.

The 1,100-kilometre Northern Gateway pipeline proposed by Enbridge would carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands through northern B.C. to a tanker port in Kitimat in the westbound line.

The eastbound pipeline would import natural gas condensate back to Alberta.

Conservative estimations have the pipeline opening up Asian markets to Canadian oil, boosting Canada’s GDP by $270 billion over 30 years and generating $81 billion in direct and indirect revenues to the federal and provincial governments.

Of that, B.C. would receive about $6 billion, while Ottawa would receive about $36 billion and Alberta $32 billion.

Enbridge is currently locked in federal hearings.

However, to Wiley the public must continue to raise awareness until the project is stopped in its tracks.

“There are people all across B.C. doing this same thing today, some 60 communities holding rallies to defend our coast,” Wiley explained.

“So we’ll see where we go from here.”

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