A far-reaching and relatively heavily promoted event designed to marshal support against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and expansion of a Kinder Morgan pipeline in Southern B.C. went off Sunday afternoon at the Brilliant Cultural Centre.
A crowd estimated at 250 – 300 people was on hand at 4 p.m. The event ran from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
There was a strong influence of Doukhobor and Aboriginal folks at the centre and several of the speakers were reached for comment during a recess in the proceedings.
“I think it’s tremendous to see so many people here,” said BC Southern Interior Member of Parliament Alex Atamanenko, scanning the large room.
“This is an important issue for the environment. People are concerned. As I mentioned in my speech, I’m thrilled this is happening at the Brilliant Cultural Centre where we have this gathering of people, not only from our area but from outside our country… folks from Peru, some from Colville (WA). It’s an important issue and it’s not going to go away.”
Atamanenko feels a change in energy policy is needed soon, with strong emphasis on the green-component.
“An energy strategy that will create jobs, combat climate change,” he said, “we can do it.”
The MP was asked how he felt the typical attendee would feel about supporting such measures with their pocketbook.
“I think most people would be willing to pay a bit more if they knew the money they were paying was going into energy that would make life on our planet better. We don’t know that now, we don’t know that with the current carbon tax in B.C.”
The “hundreds of people turning out” showed Peter Julian, MP for Burnaby – New Westminster, and NDP Energy, Natural Resource Critic, the importance of the issue.
Pictured at left:
Stewart Phillip (L), and Peter Julian.
“It’s exciting, very well-organized, and it makes me feel quite optimistic about our future,” said Julian who had attended a similar event the day before in Nelson, which he described as successful. “We had over a hundred people out. We were talking about green energy and the importance of putting in place a green energy strategy for tomorrow, for Canada. It’s an exciting time because there’s a green energy revolution worldwide. Basically over the next five or six years we’re looking at nearly a million jobs a year being created int the green energy sector.”
Representing a sector of society with an acute interest in the issue of trans-provincial oil pipelines was Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, who was also pleased by what he felt was a strong turnout for the June 2 event. He sees the Brilliant event as the sign of a broader, and growing movement to oppose proposals such as the Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan shemes.
“I think as we move to the summer, and groups become more connected,” Phillip summarized. “I think we’re going to see a resurgence of the grassroots movement that we saw over the winter. These issues are not going away.”