A dozen people occupied the Winnipeg constituency office of Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr on Thursday. Protesters held signs and chanted their message in hopes to gain the minister's attention.
"Hey Jim Carr, it's your mandate. You can do it, for the climate," they sang.
The sit-in style protest called for the Winnipeg South Centre MP to reject the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. The pipeline carries crude oil and refined products from Alberta to the west coast.
"Real climate leaders don't build pipelines," said Alex Paterson with the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition.
Paterson said today's act of peaceful civil disobedience was to send a message to Carr and to Justin Trudeau. The group says in order to meet promises set out in the Paris climate agreement with the United Nations, the federal government must vote 'no' to the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
- Not so fast: B.C. government clashes with NEB on Trans Mountain approval
- Kinder Morgan president says pipeline supporters drowned out
"After Justin Trudeau committed to the Paris Climate agreement and striving for the 1.5 degree temperature target or less, that means there is absolutely no room for an expansion of Alberta's oil sands," said Paterson.
The expansion was approved by National Energy Board earlier this year, subject to conditions. The federal government is set to vote on it before Christmas.
- NEB approves Trans Mountain pipeline with 157 conditions
- Trudeau government names Trans Mountain environmental review panel
The group was hoping to get a response from Carr about how he is going to vote. They say they have approached Carr in the past with their concerns but have not had a meaningful conversation with him about plans to move away from fossil fuels.
Jim Carr issued the following statement in an email:
"Our Government welcomes the voices and opinions of all Canadians and we embrace and encourage a diversity of views on all major energy projects, including TMX. I have met with the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition several times and I respect their right to engage in peaceful protest. I would ask that they please respect the other tenants on the property and those who need to visit my constituency office."
Government should focus on renewable energy
The group said in addition to the environmental risks, the federal government should also take into account the opposition from Indigenous people.
- First Nation band has no faith in new Kinder Morgan review panel
- City of Vancouver begins final push against Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion
"There have been Indigenous people at both ends of the pipe who have said they don't want these types of development on their tradition territories," said Paterson.
"The government made a lot of promises during the election and one of the things they promised was that nation to nation relationship," said Kevin Settee, University of Winnipeg Students' Association president.
Settee helped organize Thursday's protest with Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition and 350.org. He says several students were at Carr's office today to send a message.
"We want Minister Carr to straight up reject the Kinder Morgan pipeline and to start investing in renewable energy," said Settee.
Settee says future generations don't only want clean water and sustainable energy sources, they want secure jobs.
He says relying on oil does not create an economy that will be sustainable long term.
"The goal is to transition from pipelines to renewable energy and there is no sustainability with building more pipelines," said Settee.
"We want our governments to be making decisions that take into consideration the next seven generations," he said.
Settee said the plan was to be at the minister's office all day Thursday and the group is considering returning on Friday.