British Columbia

Anti-pipeline leaders restate resistance to Trans Mountain pipeline project

First Nations leaders and city officials in Burnaby, B.C., say opposition to Kinder Morgan will only grow in the wake of Justin Trudeau's promise to ensure the pipeline will be built.

Burnaby mayor says city and citizens will fight pipeline expansion 'to our last breath'

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs vice-president Chief Bob Chamberlin, left, and president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip join anti-pipeline protesters at an entrance to a Kinder Morgan property in Burnaby, B.C., on April 7. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

First Nations and municipal leaders restated their opposition to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in no uncertain terms Monday in Vancouver. 

"This is about recognizing the human rights of the Indigenous people of Canada," said Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Vice-President Chief Bob Chamberlin.

The media conference comes the day after the duelling premiers of B.C. and Alberta met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa to discuss the future of the Kinder Morgan project — a meeting during which Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley reiterated their commitment to seeing the project through, while Horgan maintained his opposition.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said he expects resistance to the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline to grow after Trudeau stated he would use federal financial and legislative power "to remove the uncertainty around the project." 

A row of demonstrators block the road to the Kinder Morgan terminus in Burnaby, B.C. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"I'm embarrassed to see our prime minister kowtowing to an American oil giant. We'll continue in the city of Burnaby to fight this project to our last breath." said Corrigan. 

"This has become ground zero for who is controlling our democratic institutions — is it the people of our country or is it the multinational corporations?"

NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, who is facing charges for defying a court order to protest at least five metres away from Kinder Morgan property, called Trudeau reckless for forcing the pipeline through British Columbia.

"The prime minister has failed on this project. He is blowing this into a national crisis because of the mishandling of this file," said Stewart.

Just over a week ago, Kinder Morgan announced it was stopping all non-essential spending on the pipeline project. The company gave the federal government until the end of May to reassure its investors the pipeline would be built.

After Sunday's summit, Trudeau stopped short of saying his government would buy a stake in the project, something the Alberta government has already said it would do.

"The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is of vital strategic interest to Canada,'' said Trudeau. "It will be built.''

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, centre right, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, and vice-president Chief Bob Chamberlin, back right, march with others against the Trans Mountain pipeline extension on April 7. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Alberta and B.C. have been locked in a battle over the future of Kinder Morgan Canada's $7.4-billion plan to triple capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which will carry 890,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day from the Alberta oilsands to a shipping terminus in Burnaby upon completion.

Trans Mountain says it has received endorsements from 43 Indigenous communities — 10 of them in Alberta — but seven First Nations are among more than a dozen groups who have launched appeals challenging the jurisdiction of the federal government over their territories.