Calling it "one of the largest acts of civil disobedience on the climate issue that Canada has ever seen," the Council of Canadians is urging people to converge on Ottawa on Monday September 26 to protest against the Alberta oil sands, the source of the crude that would travel through the Keystone XL pipeline being considered in Washington.
"We must act together for the health of our planet, our air, our water, our climate and our children," the environmental and policy group says on its website. This protest will not be relegated to the Keystone XL, which is a 1,700-mile pipeline from Canada down to Houston. This protest is against the notion of oil sands development at all, which is set to expand greatly as demand grows. A slide show depicting what has been wrought so far, with links to further ICTMN coverage, is here.
"In a large peaceful protest, many will be risking arrest to tell the Harper government that we don’t support his reckless agenda; that we want to turn away from the toxic tar sands industry; and that we oppose the direction he's taking this country," the Council of Canadians said of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's administration. " Tar sands mining and other extreme forms of energy extraction like Arctic drilling, shale fracking, and nuclear power generation send us in the exact opposite direction that we, as a civilization, must go to ensure global survival. If we burn the tar sands, we blot our nation's reputation; if we leave that carbon in the ground, we'll do the world an enormous favor."
The Council of Canadians is joined by Greenpeace Canada and the Indigenous Environmental Network, and has the backing of individuals including author and journalist Naomi Klein, George Poitras, a member of Mikisew Cree First Nation, which is downstream from the oil sands, and Toghestiy Wet’suwet’en, Hereditary Chief of Wet’suwet’en Nation, and aboriginal actor Graham Greene.
Celebrity-power pressure is starting to get under Ottawa's skin, Reuters reported, with the high-profile arrests of actress Darryl Hannah and others. Aboriginal actress Tantoo Cardinal was arrested in the Washington, D.C., protests, as was Canadian actress Margot Kidder.
"Criticism of the oil sands—and now the proposed Keystone XL pipeline—is a major concern for us, with implications for our energy industry, our economy and our energy security," said Energy Minister Joe Oliver to an audience of business people in Toronto, Reuters said.