News / Ottawa

Pipeline running through Ottawa a disaster waiting to happen: Protesters

A proposal by TransCanada Corp. to modify an existing pipeline to carry bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to oil refineries in New Brunswick, is an environmental disaster waiting to happen, say environmental activists who gathered in front of City Hall Sunday to protest the move.

Ecology Ottawa staged the event dubbed "Rally for the Rideau River" to send just that message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and city politicians.

If the proposal gets the green light from federal regulators, the 4,000 kilometre TransCanada pipeline would carry up to 1.1 million barrels of fracked bitumen, the heavy, unrefined crude extracted from the tar sands, directly through the capital region beneath the Ottawa, Rideau and Mississippi rivers, every day.

Placard-waving activists including the Raging Grannies marched, portaged and paddled their way from Vincent Massey Park, down the Rideau canal to City Hall, where they joined artists, representatives from other environmental groups and regional aboriginal leaders including Idle No More spokesman Clayton Thomas-Muller.

“We know that all pipelines fail,” said Six Nations' Ben Powless. “Look at Kalamazoo, where Enbridge spilled one million litres into the water system and now it's ruined for life.”

“I'm here because this pipeline puts our water table at risk,” said the Green Party's deputy leader Kevin O'Donnell. “Twenty-seven percent of all the lobbying done at city hall is on behalf of the TransCanada Pipeline and Enbridge gas. These companies are paying lots to make the pipeline happen so they can sell their oil and gas internationally, while putting the environmental health of our nation at risk.”

Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar and Green Party chief Elizabeth May both lent their support to the gathering.

“We have to stand up to this insanity of placing pipelines north, south, east and west just to feed our addiction to fossil fuels,” said May. “If we don't move fast, we'll lose the opportunity to protect the environment for our children. I know Mr. Harper is used to saying yes to Barack Obama, but it's time now he got used to hearing no to pipelines.”

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