Protesters target Kinder Morgan's Calgary office on day of action against Trans Mountain pipeline
Opposing rallies also take place outside MP Kent Hehr's constituency office in downtown Calgary
A small group of protesters blocked the entrance to the Kinder Morgan offices in downtown Calgary on Friday, in protest against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline through British Columbia.
"We want to amplify the voices of many First Nations and communities along the route who are standing up to defend their land and water," said Hannah Gelderman, an organizer with Climate Justice Edmonton, the group behind the protest.
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"This pipeline is a huge risk to investors; with all the opposition, the pipeline's not going to go through."
The small protest came on a day when rallies against the project were planned across the country. In Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, rallies were also planned for those who supported Trans Mountain.
The project would see the pipeline's capacity more than doubled to help ship bitumen from the oilsands to the West Coast.
It has faced intense opposition in British Columbia and has been tied up in the regulatory system and the courts for years.
The project has also led to threats of a trade war between B.C. and Alberta, and there have been ongoing protests on the West Coast, particularly in Burnaby.
Inside the offices
Inside the building on Friday, a livestream broadcast on Facebook by Climate Justice Edmonton showed two small groups of protesters — five in total — on opposite ends of a hallway, blocking two different sets of doors.
The protesters chanted, sang and read statements from what Gelderman said were Indigenous leaders.
One of the protesters addressed the camera and said one source of frustration was the current NDP government in Alberta.
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"As Albertans, we're also here to say when we voted for Rachel Notley, we voted for change," said the unidentified woman.
"They were looking for a transition and something that isn't tying us into this boom-bust economy, and what we've seen is the same old business as usual with Rachel Notley."
In Thursday's provincial budget, the Alberta NDP pegged a lot of their financial hopes on pipeline projects moving forward.
Rallies for and against
Gelderman said Climate Justice Edmonton is a group of volunteers who want to show that there are Albertans opposed to the pipeline project.
"We can diversify our economy and there's a lot of potential in renewables and … we can't keep investing in a dying industry and an industry that has so much risk from climate and communities. That's not a sound economic investment."
Calgary police say they handed trespassing notices to five people for the occupation, but no charges or fines were issued.
The occupation of the office was not the only Trans Mountain event on Friday.
Rallies organized by Lead Now, which is opposed to the pipeline, were set to take place outside 44 Liberal MP offices across the country.
Here’s another look of this heated demonstration of people for and against pipelines outside <a href="https://twitter.com/kenthehr?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@kenthehr</a>’s <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/yyc?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#yyc</a> offices. <a href="https://t.co/LqidIqVUuQ">pic.twitter.com/LqidIqVUuQ</a>—@ReidSouthwick
At Kent Hehr's office in Calgary, more than 100 people gathered from different sides of the debate. Those in support of the project vastly outnumbered those opposed.
The supporters were part of an effort organized by the pro-oil group Canada Action, which said rallies would take place in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Steve Phillips said he was there to show support for Alberta oil.
"Heard about it, come down here to show my support for the pipelines. Sick and tired of Alberta oil being sold for half price. It's clean oil. It's ethical oil. It's better than getting our oil from some of these third-world countries," he said.
Phillips was polite but critical of the anti-pipeline protesters.
"I think most of them, their hearts are in the right places but they're just misinformed and uninformed, in a lot of cases," he said.
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- Incorrect information appeared in the original caption of the main photo for this story. This photo was taken outside the constituency office of MP Kent Hehr, not at Kinder Morgan's headquarters, where a group blocked the entrance earlier Friday.Mar 26, 2018 10:13 AM MT
With files from Reid Southwick