Op-ed: We must organize against the Trans Mountain Pipeline

The Canadian government’s investment in the oil industry exposes the pitfalls of centrist politics and the dire need for mass resistance

Op-ed: We must organize against the Trans Mountain Pipeline

On May 29, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his decision to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline from Texas oil company Kinder Morgan at a price of $4.5 billion. Kinder Morgan’s plans to add a second line to this pipeline, which carries oil from the Alberta tar sands to the BC coast, have faced months of active resistance from Indigenous nations and allies in BC and across the section of Turtle Island now known as Canada.

After a series of delays since the construction was expected to start in September, the company decided the expansion was not worth the effort and expense. The week after the Trudeau government’s decision, snap actions at MP offices took place around the country as part of a National Day of Action against it. One of several Toronto actions was organized by climate justice group Leap UofT outside the office of Chrystia Freeland, the University—Rosedale MP and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In the lead-up to the action, as one of the organizers, I talked with friends and family who have supported the Trudeau government, and who had been willing to overlook Trudeau’s support for the pipeline as, at worst, an unfortunate political necessity. Until this recent decision, such discussions would generally stall: I would talk about how building a pipeline without consent from impacted First Nations communities violates inherent Indigenous rights, and about how committing to decades of further tar sands extraction is incompatible with doing our share to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius. They would have agreed, but they responded that politics requires compromise. In other words, as long as it looked like the pipeline might be economically viable, the centrist position — which avoids declaring any action as simply unacceptable — could appear justified.

But this time was different. At the last Kinder Morgan rally I attended before the buyout decision on May 7, the message was clear: the Trudeau government is selling our futures to the oil industry. This time, we prepared an oversized eraser labelled “Kinder Morgan Buyout” so that MP Freeland could ‘erase’ Canada’s signature from the Paris Agreement. While this message was clear — if we buy pipelines, we forfeit our international climate obligations — it was also less targeted. Who, in this scenario, is the Trudeau government selling us out to?  

The language of Trudeau supporters generally focuses on his promise to back Alberta’s energy sector and create “thousands of good, well-paying jobs,” in the words of Bill Morneau, the Minister of Finance. However, the Canadian government vastly inflated its job creation numbers, and it is unclear how a project a Texas oil giant couldn’t profit from would benefit Alberta. There is no political calculus, no matter how cynical, that necessitates sacrificing the interests of the global community for Alberta’s oil industry. That inability to locate a clear target was palpable at the rally, and culminated in a general sense that we have crossed a line. Trudeau’s supposed simultaneous support for the tar sands and ‘climate action’ is a whole new level of centrist hypocrisy.

Instead of supporting a company waging war on Indigenous rights and the climate, Trudeau has taken up this battle himself, beyond economics. Until now, it was possible to understand the political calculus: being hostile to oil companies can make leaders look dangerous to all the powerful interests that contribute to upholding the economic status quo. In the air of bewilderment and cynicism surrounding the Day of Action, there is an emerging awareness that the centrist response — that there are always ways to compromise with those driving the crisis, that one can always pick and choose which promises are kept and which are sacrificed — is self-destructing and devolving from sinister political calculus into equally terrifying political farce.

In buying an unviable, unneeded, unconsented pipeline that locks us into extractions we cannot afford, especially after the company itself ran away, Trudeau has compromised with the economic status quo. His government has acceded to the dangerous logic of extraction and colonialism without an oil corporation to force his hand.

But if the politics seem farcical, the results of such decisions will be real and destructive. If the 173 billion barrels of oil in the tar sands are dug up and burnt, Canada will have used up a third of the carbon the entire world can afford to burn without exceeding two degrees of warming. As students, if we want a future where politics are anything other than outright rule by corporate oligarchy, we need to get out of the crumbling centre, quickly, and call out those who try to keep us there; we have to build a different kind of politics, one that refuses to accept untempered centrism.

In less than a month, the buyout will be finalized — but there is time. Rallying outside Freeland’s office, we were linked not only to more than 100 other actions that day, but to the years of organizing both in and out of BC that made it possible to pull together that many actions in only a few days. In the coming days, weeks, and months, it is imperative that we grow this resistance, that we make clear the political consequences of decisions like the Kinder Morgan buyout — that we do not allow the Trudeau government to cling to its eroding middle ground.

Julia DaSilva is a third-year student at Victoria College studying Literature and Critical Theory, Philosophy, and Indigenous Studies. She is a co-founder and core team member of Leap UofT.

Op-ed: Why risk arrest?

Canada’s youth won’t stand for Kinder Morgan, and it’s time for the government to listen up

Op-ed: Why risk arrest?

When I was 12 years old, I wrote a speech about climate change for a primary school speaking contest. Unfortunately, as I would soon learn, it takes a lot more than giving a speech to move governments. For the next eight years, impassioned by the same goals, I wrote petitions, signed letters, attended rallies and marches, and spoke up at climate town halls. I have used every available traditional forum to voice my concerns, and yet the politicians that are supposed to protect my future have consistently failed to take necessary action on climate change.

When an opportunity presented itself to take my demands to the next level, I took it. For the past two months I have recruited students and youth for Climate101, a civil disobedience action calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reject the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Last Monday, that action culminated in 99 young people being arrested on Parliament Hill — the largest act of youth-led climate civil disobedience in Canadian history.

Opposing Kinder Morgan is a matter of climate justice. As students, many of us with experience in fossil fuel divestment campaigns, we know that expanding the tar sands means trampling on the rights of people across Canada and around the world. Canada made commitments in Paris last year to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, but if Kinder Morgan and other tar sands pipelines are built, we will be on track to use up almost one quarter of the world’s remaining carbon budget. Approving Kinder Morgan means standing by as small island nations are drowned, people die of famine, and increasingly prevalent and dangerous natural disasters destroy communities.

If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approves Kinder Morgan, he will also be breaking his campaign promise to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples. Cedar Parker-George of the Tslei-Waututh First Nation, one of the youth speakers at the action on Monday, says it best: “Justin Trudeau promised to listen to Indigenous communities. Well, my community has been pretty clear; reject this pipeline and protect the water, the land and the climate.” Tslei-Waututh and other members of Indigenous communities protecting the land are protecting their right to survive, and we need to stand with them.

Young people took action on Monday because the stakes are high, and because it just might make the difference. We know that when young people come together, we are powerful. For instance, the fossil fuel divestment movement, led by students, has collectively led to $3.4 trillion in assets being divested thus far. In the United States in 2014, dozens of youth were arrested outside the White House protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. A year later, after dozens of other actions and fierce opposition from Indigenous peoples, Obama rejected the pipeline.

Climate 101, similarly, drew on the power of young voices to influence change. Last election, 45 per cent of people aged 18–25 voted Liberal and helped along the formation of a majority Liberal government. That same demographic, spanning all the way up to 35, is overwhelmingly opposed to pipelines and supports strong climate action and respect for Indigenous rights.

Those of us arrested on Parliament Monday came with a plea, but also a warning: if Trudeau wants the support of millennials next election, he needs to reject Kinder Morgan. Perhaps seeing 99 youth arrested on his doorstep will be the tipping point he needs to make that decision.

Amanda Harvey-Sanchez is a third-year student at Trinity College studying Environmental Studies, Social Cultural Anthropology, and Equity Studies. She was one of three youth organizers working on recruitment and planning for Climate 101 with 350.org.

Letter of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux

U of T students, faculty, and staff support protesters, condemn the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline

Editor’s note: The following is a letter of solidarity signed by over 160 University of Toronto students, faculty, and staff, expressing support for the Standing Rock Sioux and other groups protesting against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The letter was sent to The Varsity on October 12, 2016. 

This statement was written prior to the court ruling on September 19, 2016, which halted construction for 20 miles on either side of Lake Oahe. Protests have continued in response to the construction still ongoing at other locations across the pipeline route.


 

As members of the University of Toronto community, we, the undersigned, express our resolute solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux and all land and water defenders at the Sacred Stone Camp against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

The DAPL is one of the largest pipelines currently under construction, and it would transport 450,000 barrels per day of fracked oil from North Dakota to southern Illinois. The pipeline route travels through 1,800 km of land, through lakes and waterways, like the Missouri river, that provide millions with drinking water, and through sacred Indigenous sites and territories (some of which have already been destroyed). We stand in opposition to the development of oil pipelines in North Dakota and across Turtle Island – infrastructure that ignores and violates Indigenous sovereignty; that threatens the health of present and future generations and their environments; that exploits land and people for short-term capitalist profit.

Like the pipelines themselves that traverse colonial borders, we recognize that the Standing Rock struggle is part of the same fight being waged and won by Indigenous nations the world over against the dispossession, displacement, and destruction of Indigenous peoples, lands, and ways of life; that this action is part of a broader struggle against the violence of extractive activities that reflect and entrench ongoing state commitments to settler colonialism, environmental racism, and capitalist exploitation – violences equally perpetrated by the Canadian state. We oppose the Canadian government’s allocation of billions of taxpayer dollars towards the expansion of the Albertan tar sands, an industrial megaproject that carries far-reaching social, economic, and environmental consequences for people across Turtle Island, including the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies. We oppose the investments made by the Canadian oil conglomerate, Enbridge, in the DAPL project.

We celebrate and give thanks for the labour and the victories of the land and water defenders at the Sacred Stone Camp, including their efforts to gather people and build community – a show of power and determination that has secured the ruling by the Obama administration to halt construction on part of the DAPL. We add our voices and efforts to the struggle until we can guarantee full respect for Indigenous sovereignty and land rights, and ensure healthy land and water for generations to come.

In solidarity,

Maureen FitzGerald, Fellow, Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto

Nickie Van Lier, PhD student, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

Leah Montange, PhD student, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

Michael Chrobok, PhD student, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

Isabel Urrutia, PhD student, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

Robert Fajber, PhD candidate, Department of Physics, University of Toronto

Cristina Jaimungal, PhD student, Social Justice Education, University of Toronto, University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) Executive

Cindy Ka Man Lee, Masters student, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

Christopher Cully, MA candidate, Department of Social Justice Education, President, OISE Graduate Students’ Association

Brieanne Berry Crossfield, M.Ed Student, Social Justice Education, University of Toronto

Emma McClure, PhD student, Philosophy Department, University of Toronto

Mary Jean Hande, PhD Candidate, Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, OISE, University of Toronto

Cynthia Morinville, PhD student, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

Anna Shortly, MScPl student, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

Zachary Anderson, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

Jeremy Withers, PhD student, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

Justin Kong, MA Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

Phoebe Edwards, PhD student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Emily A. Moorhouse, MA, Department of Social Justice Education, University of Toronto.

Anna Heffernan, MA Candidate, Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, University of Toronto

Alexander Ivovic PhD Candidate, Department of Physiology, University of Toronto

Emily Gilbert, Associate Professor, Canadian Studies Program and Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Deborah Cowen, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Benjamin Patrick Butler, PhD student, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

Laura Landertinger, PhD Candidate, Department of Social Justice Education, University of Toronto

Jeff Bale, Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Jillian Linton, MA Candidate, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

Ellyse Winter, PhD student, Department of Social Justice Education, University of Toronto

Dylan Clark, Lecturer in Anthropology, Contemporary Asian Studies, and Geography. U. of Toronto

Léa Ravensbergen, PhD Student, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Lauren Kepkiewicz, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Shane Lynn, PhD Candidate, Department of History, University of Toronto

Jocelyn Piercy, PhD Candidate, OISE, University of Toronto

Jessica Concepcion, Teacher Candidate, OISE, University of Toronto

Yukiko Tanaka, PhD Student, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

Louise Birdsell Bauer, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

Kim de Laat, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

Ambika Tenneti, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto

Nasim Ramezani, PhD Student, Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto

Sarah Cappeliez, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

Noah Kenneally, PhD Candidate, Department of Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto

Fernando Calderón Figueroa, PhD Student, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

Jonathan Kauenhowen, PhD Student, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

Merin Oleschuk, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

Matthew Farish, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Katie Mazer, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Ximena Martinez, PhD student, Social Justice Education, University of Toronto.

Jesse Jenkinson, PhD Candidate, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.

Anelyse Weiler, PhD Student, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

Andrew Merrill, PhD Student, Department of Geography, University of Toronto

Sarah Snyder, PhD Candidate, Department of Social Justice Education, University of Toronto

Jess Clausen, PhD student, Social Justice Education, University of Toronto

Khursheed Sadat MA Student, Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto

Marie Laing, MA candidate, Department of Social Justice Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Kimberly Todd, Ph.D Student, Social Justice Education, University of Toronto

Suzanne Narain, PhD Candidate, Department of Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto

Yessica Rostan, MA Student at OISE/UofT in Social Justice and Comparative International Developmental Education, Youth Worker and Community Educator

Kristy Bard, USW1998 Chief Steward, Faculty of Arts & Science, University of Toronto

Victor Barac, Ph.D., Lecturer, University of Toronto, Dept. of Anthropology

Sam Spady, PhD Candidate, Social Justice Education, University of Toronto

Storm K. Jeffers, PhD Student, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

Diana M. Barrero, M.A student, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Justin Holloway, USW1998 Steward (OISE), M.A. student, Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Lora Senechal Carney, Arts, Culture and Media, UTSC

Linda Kohn, Professor, Biology Dept., UTM

Karen Dewart McEwen, PhD Student, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Nicole Laliberte, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, UTM

Nhung Tuyet Tran, Associate Professor of History & Canada Research Chair, UNiversity of Toronto

Theresa Enright, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto

Rosa Sarabia, Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Toronto

Natalie Rothman, Associate Professor, Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC

Dana Seitler, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Toronto

Tavleen Purewal, PhD Student, Department of English, University of Toronto

Francis Cody, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Jens Hanssen, Associate Professor, Departments of History & NMC, University of Toronto

Sarah Wakefield, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Kanishka Goonewardena, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Kerry Parrett MA student, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto  

Catherine Thompson-Walsh, PhD Student, School and Clinical Child Psychology, Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, OISE, University of Toronto

Anna Ek, MA Student, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Angie Fazekas, PhD Student, Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto

Alex Djedovic, PhD Candidate, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. University of Toronto

Kajri Jain, Associate Professor, Departments of Visual Studies and Art History, University of Toronto

Jennifer Jenkins, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Toronto

Paul Hamel, Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

David Seitz, Lecturer, Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto

Michelle Murphy, Professor, Department of History and WGSI, University of Toronto

Alejandro I. Paz, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Toronto

Rena Helms-Park, Associate Professor, Linguistics/Speech Pathology, University of Toronto

Sylvia Mittler, Associate Professor, Centre for French and Linguistics, UTSC

Ron Smyth, Department of Psychology and Centre for French and Linguistics, UTSC

Jennifer Nedelsky, Faculty of Law and Department of Political Science, University of Toronto.

Ilana Newman, MI student, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Laura Moncion, MA student, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto

Noah Ross, MA student, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto

Amy Wood, PhD student, Political Science, University of Toronto

Sara Klein, MI student, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, Irena Smith, MA Student, Women and Gender Studies

Alexandra Izgerean, MA student, School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto

Kathryn Henzler, MMus student, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto

Judi McIntyre, MIRHR student, CIRHR, University of Toronto

Hoda Ebrahimi, MT Student, OISE, University of Toronto

Megan Harris, PhD Candidate, English Department, University of Toronto

Zoe David-Delves, Master’s of Global Affairs Candidate, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

Olivia Shortt, MMus in Instrumental Performance, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto

Napat Malathum, MMSt student, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Mohammad Alhaj, MD. DLSPH -Department of Epidemiology, University of Toronto.

Bogdan Smarandache, PhD Candidate, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto

Nisha Toomey, PhD Student, Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto

Bhavani Raman, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Toronto.

Maria-Saroja Ponnambalam, MA student, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Lauren Maxine, MI student, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Andrew Kaufman, PhD Student, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Evan Miller, PhD Student, Department of Mathematics, University of Toronto

Katherine D. Balasingham, PhD Student, Department of Physical and Environmental Science, University of Toronto

Alison Traub, MASc Student, Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto

Holly Pelvin, PhD Candidate, Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto

Sarah Dungan, PhD Candidate, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Talha Khan, MSc Candidate, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Milan Ilnyckyj, PhD Student, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto

Una Creedon-Carey, PhD Student, Department of English, University of Toronto

Patrick Lorenzo, MSW Student, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto

Rebecca Jacobs, MA Student, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Nicholas Field, PhD Student, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto

Fatima Altaf, MA Student, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto

Madelaine C. Cahuas, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Heather Hanwell, MSC PhD – MPH (Epidemiology) Candidate, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Elizabeth Davis, PhD student, Department of Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto

Peige Desjarlais, PhD Student, Department of Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto

Angela Michener, MSW Student, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto

Christopher Wai, MMSt  (Museum Studies) Student, Faculty of Information (iSchool), University of Toronto

Christopher Boccia, MSc student, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Camille-Mary Sharp, PhD Student, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Neil Nunn, PhD Student, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Shaniqwa Thomas, M.ed Student, Department of Social Justice Education, University of Toronto
Alison McAvella, MT, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Madison Stirling, MMSt (Museum Studies) Student, Faculty of Information (iSchool), University of

Toronto

Celina Carter, RN, Doctoral Student, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Andrea Meeson, Research Education Coordinator, Collaborative Program in Resuscitation Sciences, University of Toronto.

Dominique Soutiere, PhD candidate, Department of Physics, University of Toronto

Nicole Stradiotto, MI student, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Tania Ruiz-Chapman, PhD Student, Department of Social Justice Education, University of Toronto

Shanelle Henry, MA Student, Applied Psychology & Human Development, University of

Toronto OISE

Paul Matthews, MA Student, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

James A. McNamara, MT student, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Ben Losman, MEd Student, Social Justice Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education,

University of Toronto
Kaylee Cameron, MA Student, Adult Education & Community Development, Ontario Institute for

Studies in Education, University of Toronto

David Helps, MA Student, Department of History, University of Toronto

Lila Platt, MA Student, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Dr. Giselle Gos, Celtic Studies, University of Toronto

Tadhg Morris, PhD Candidate, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto

Shea Sinnott, MEd Student, Adult Education & Community Development, Ontario Institute for Studies

in Education, University of Toronto

MattheW Badali, PhD Candidate, Department of Physics, University of Toronto

Iehnhotonkwas Bonnie Jane Maracle, Aboriginal Learning Strategist, First Nations House, University

of Toronto

Nishant Singh, PhD Student, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Brent Wood, Lecturer, Department of English and Drama, University of Toronto at Mississauga

Raina Loxley, MPH Candidate, Epidemiology, DLSPH, University of Toronto

Alberto Garcia-Raboso, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Mathematics, University of Toronto

Ann Wilkin, M.A. English, University of Toronto and M.Ed. Curriculum Studies and Teacher

Development, OISE

Tim Wesson, M.Ed student LHAE, OISE

Emily Clare, PhD Student, Linguistics Department, University of Toronto

Linda McNenly, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Mississauga

Justin Stein, PhD Candidate and Course Instructor, Department for the Study of Religion, University of
Toronto

Shayne A. P. Dahl, PhD Student, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Rastko Cvekic, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Jessica Broe-Vayda, PhD Student, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Vasuki Shanmuganathan, PhD Candidate, Department of German and Women & Gender Studies, University of Toronto