Early this morning, around twenty protesters gathered at Montreal City Hall in response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s meeting with Montreal mayor Denis Coderre. The subjects of the meeting included the Energy East pipeline project.
Last week, Coderre and 81 other mayors from the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM), of which Coderre is the president, declared their opposition to the Energy East pipeline project.
In an article published in the Montreal Gazette, Coderre explained this decision, writing, “The planned route of Energy East crosses several major rivers, including the Ottawa River, the Rivière des Mille Îles, the Rivière des Prairies and the Rivière L’Assomption. In case of a leakage incident, the drinking water intakes of several Greater Montreal municipalities could be threatened.”
Coderre also mentioned that the CMM was not against all pipelines, and supported the project to invert Enbridge’s Line 9B.
Kristen Perry, a member of campus group Divest McGill, was present at the protest. Perry explained, “We just want to make sure that Justin Trudeau is keeping his promises to reform the National Energy Board reviews. […] Any expanded pipeline infrastructure is obviously going to accelerate and exacerbate the climate crisis.”
“We need to invest in our communities, and not in dirty fossil fuels,” said Perry.
Audrey Yank, one of the protesters, was satisfied with the turnout, despite the fact that the demonstration was organized at the last minute.
“We need to invest in our communities, and not in dirty fossil fuels.”
“People are really supportive of Denis Coderre’s position, with the CMM. […] We were here to demonstrate to Justin Trudeau that we don’t want that project. Maybe he has other voices elsewhere that want that project, but we want to show that we’re against it,” Yank said.
Referring to the November Conference of Parties (COP) 21 conference on climate change that took place in Paris, Yank said that it didn’t make sense for Trudeau to be in support of pipeline projects while supporting the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Yank said, “If we build infrastructures for fossil fuel that will last for forty, fifty years – well, in forty to fifty years, we will have to be phasing out from fossil fuels, so it doesn’t make sense now to invest in those infrastructures.”
Last November, Coderre came under fire for deciding to dump 8 billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence river. Yank said that Coderre might have come to his senses with his decision regarding Energy East.
“The sewage thing, yeah, it shouldn’t have happened. But it’s not like a decision […] that’s going to impact the climate in the same way. Ideally, to be consistent, [he would] say no to both.”
“The sewage thing, yeah, it shouldn’t have happened. But it’s not like a decision […] that’s going to impact the climate in the same way. Ideally, to be consistent, [he would] say no to both,” Yank said.
François Thibault, another protester, expressed that he also would have liked Coderre to listen to the people on the sewage dumping issue. “All [demonstrated] against the dumping, even though some people said it occurs all the time. I don’t think that’s a good idea, to be for something that happens just because it does. So I think he should also be against further dumping,” Thibault said.
Another protester, Elizabeth Pruszynski, remained skeptical of Coderre’s commitment to climate justice, saying, “I don’t think Coderre wanted to take that decision [to oppose Energy East], first of all.”
Pruszynski went on, “It was pushed by the citizens. Different groups concerned with our food air, soil. […] Maybe it was also […] to have a better image in the province. I’m not sure what his agenda is, I don’t pay much attention to politicians, personally.”
Pruszynski emphasized the need for everyone to be involved in the fight against climate change. “Join us, we need people. […] ‘Citizens, aux actes’ [take action], as they say in French. Petitions are good to talk about issues with your folks, but […] be there when people are there,” she said.