Two weeks ago, just as we were winding down from the 100% Possible climate march, Mike Fletcher, one of Ecology Ottawa’s most active volunteers in the fight to stop Energy East, informed me about an information session on safety and response procedures held by TransCanada at the Carp fairgrounds for the local community, last Wednesday, December 10th.
Mike was proposing that we go ahead and book a room next to TransCanada and provide Ecology Ottawa information about TransCanada’s safety and spill records. I couldn’t make it on that day, but it didn't matter to Mike; he booked a room and got a team of four volunteers ready to have our own Energy East booth. Interestingly enough, the Carp Agricultural Society rescinded the rental once they learned who we were, thinking we were about to hold a protest and cause damage, even though we were clear about our intentions.
Even then, Mike and his team showed up to the event and distributed information pamphlets at the entrance for the evening. The event went smoothly, there were no issues (there was no damage), and our message was heard. The Energy East pipeline is bad for our city, it’s bad for our climate! You can read about it in more details here in the Stittsville Central.
Why is this important?
This little event is important for two reasons. The first one is that it highlights the power of volunteer-driven initiatives and their effects. On their own, Ecology Ottawa volunteers identified a possible event, planned and organized for it, and made it happen. It generated media attention and ultimately had a positive outcome for Ecology Ottawa, and the citizens of the City of Ottawa through increased information getting out there. Volunteers are a formidable force, and month after month I’m reminded of just that, and of how privileged I am to be working with people like Mike, Frank, Mark, Estelle and Fan.
But it also served to remind us, and the people of Ottawa, that the Energy East pipeline proposal is still very real. Since the October elections, we have been very cautiously optimistic, and many good things have happened. The Keystone XL pipeline has been cancelled, the pipeline port terminal in Cacouna, QC, has been dropped, and Alberta came out with a decent climate change plan.
The Liberal government has been saying the right things and doing the right things. Mostly. They have promised reform to the National Energy Board and its process, but we’ve yet to see concrete action on this. Similarly worrisome, in the Paris climate talks, our Environment and Climate Change Minister, and very own Ottawa Centre riding MP, Catherine McKenna, has been evasive in her answers about the Energy East project while at the same time supporting a 1.5 degree limit to climate change. The two are just incompatible.
The oil industry is not waiting on straight answers, and neither should we. Energy East is still very much on the table, and the new government’s position remains unclear. This means that we must remain active and on our toes in our opposition to the pipeline, and that initiatives undertaken by Mike and other volunteers like him remain critical, and effective. The oil industry will have other information sessions, there will be other hearings, and we must continue to help spread the word about the pipeline in Ottawa and its risk.
You can help us spread the word about Energy East. Currently, we are still rolling out our Loonie campaign. Help us by getting your own decals to put on your dollar coins, or to help us find more businesses willing to help distribute it. The decals carry our website address, noEEpipeline.ca, and help reach a varied demographic that might not be reached otherwise.
Help us by committing to attend a meeting in your own riding between your community and your elected representatives to tell them what you think about climate change and the proposed pipeline.
If you don’t have time to give, because let’s face it, we lead busy lives, please donate to help us stop the pipeline! Donations go a long way in keeping our organizing active and effective, while maintaining our day to day activities so we can focus on what matters.