Organizers say more than 130 protests against climate change were staged across Canada Saturday, with the largest gathering held in Vancouver where participants showed their opposition to Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
The protests were part of a national day of action to "Defend Our Climate." Outside Vancouver's Science World, nearly 1,000 participants held colourful signs while chanting and singing slogans, while others pounded on drums and played the bagpipes.
Rally participants said they fear Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would wreck havoc on the environment, bring tankers that would disrupt and endanger rare species along B.C.'s coast, and open oil shipments to Asia.
"It's about our world, our future, our children, our children's future," said Tamiko Suzuki, who rode her bike to the event.
"My children are really passionate about this. It's given me a renewed sense of hope, that there is a lot of energy and we can get that critical mass of people and we can rise up and say things and change things."
'Politicians might give the permits, but the people give the permission. And the people are saying 'no.'' - Ben West, ForestEthics Advocacy
If approved, the almost 1,200-kilometre twin pipeline would carry about 525,000 barrels of petroleum per day from the Alberta oilsands to the B.C. coast for shipment by tankers.
The federal Joint Review Panel is expected to deliver its final report on the pipeline proposal by the end of 2013.
Many protesters also said they opposed a plan by Kinder Morgan to nearly triple the capacity of its existing TransMountain pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver.
"Politicians might give the permits, but the people give the permission. And the people are saying 'no' to the Enbridge Gateway pipeline and others projects like that," said Ben West, oilsands campaign director for ForestEthics Advocacy.
"People who have pipelines in their backyard are definitely on the front lines of this fight ... But there are also many other Canadians who are concerned about climate change, they're concerned about Canada's role in the world, and they're concerned about doing the right thing."
Smaller rallies held across Canada
In Montreal, about 300 demonstrators gathered at Oka National Park on Saturday to protest against the expansion of oilsands production and pipelines bringing the oil east from Alberta.
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And in Edmonton, about two dozen people braved the snow to rally against oilsands expansion and climate change at the Alberta Legislature.
In the northern B.C. city of Prince George, about 100 people participated in another anti-pipeline rally.
Murray Minchin, spokesman for the Kitimat-based conservation group Douglas Channel Watch, said his group is at "ground zero" for the proposal.
He wants the federal government to know that many people in northern communities are still against the Northern Gateway pipeline.
"Essentially, this is the last chance for us to send a message to Prime Minister Harper that he really has to rethink this," Minchin told CBC News.
"It's been a long process. People are understandably fatigued by the whole thing, but a lot of people have come up to me and mentioned that, 'You know, if there's anything happening and you need us to turn — just call and we'll be there.'"