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Cowichanians reject Enbridge pipeline during town-hall meeting

Nathan Cullen, MP of Skeena-Bulkley Valley, join by Jean Crowder during Take Back Our Coast, in a discussion on how to stop the Enbridge pipeline at Island Savings Centre’s Heritage Hall on March 22. - Andrew Leong
Nathan Cullen, MP of Skeena-Bulkley Valley, join by Jean Crowder during Take Back Our Coast, in a discussion on how to stop the Enbridge pipeline at Island Savings Centre’s Heritage Hall on March 22.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Cowichanians collectively crossed their arms in angry protest about Enbridge's planned pipeline across B.C. during Saturday's public meeting at Island Savings Centre.

"We have to stand together," valley Native carver Herb Rice told more than 200 who packed the Heritage Hall event hosted by federal NDP MPs Nathan Cullen and Jean Crowder.

The huddle heard many folks willing to physically protest the pipeline — backed by the federal Conservatives — to carry bitumen to Kitimat from Alberta's tar sands.

"People must fight for what's in their backyard," said Matt Price of One Cowichan.

The local group is mounting a petition drive in all B.C. ridings to prevent Victoria from granting a pipeline permit.

Price got a show of hands signalling unanimous rejection of the line.

Cullen, touring B.C. with his Take Back Our Coast message, noted Prime Minister Stephen Harper will make his decision in the next 90 days about whether to let the pipeline proceed.

"It's insane," the Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP said, citing 99.2% of folks at National Energy Board hearings nixed the Enbridge's plan.

Still, the feds green-lighted the project in principle, he explained.

And last year's Tory omnibus bill gutted environmental assessments, the federal Fisheries department, and the Navigable Waters Act, while First Nations pipeline concerns were "cast aside," Cullen said.

"Government can give permits, but only people can give permission."

The project got a fail from Cliff Hickey. "The big issue is getting rid of the Conservatives."

Phyllis Hood predicted mass protests.

"Harper's going realize the pipeline can't go ahead."

To help make sure, Duncan Councillor Michelle Staples — who traveled the pipeline's route — urged people to go to northern B.C. and stand with Natives and other folks in protest.

Cullen noted some B.C. chiefs told him they're disappointed Cowichan MP Crowder, NDP's Aboriginal affairs critic, has announced she's not running in the 2015 election, while pipeline protests are expected to boil.

Don Harrison stressed the line's potential environmental impact.

T-1 supertankers threading through the rocky coast would be 1,200 feet long, and can carry more than three million barrels of oil, he explained.

A major accident "would ruin the coast in eight hours," said Harrison.

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