Anti-oil pipeline activists plan mass protest in Victoria

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

They're calling it the "largest act of peaceful civil disobedience on the climate issue that Canada has ever seen."

Greenpeace, along with over 80 First Nations, environmental, labour, academic, medical and artistic groups, is organizing a mass sit-in in front of B.C.'s provincial legislature on October 22 as a protest against oil sand pipelines and tankers on the west coast.  The demonstration is dubbed Defend our Coast.

"The October sit-in builds on the success of protests against tar sands expansion and pipelines that have taken place in the U.S. and Canada in recent months," notes an event press release.

"The August 2011 sit-ins in Washington D.C. that helped delay approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and the September 26, 2011 sit-in in Ottawa that helped put Canadian tar sands pipeline proposals in the national spotlight."

Last year's Ottawa protest, also organized by Greenpeace, led to over 100 arrests when anti-pipeline demonstrators tried to enter the House of Commons over a barricade fence.

Chief Jackie Thomas, of Saik'uz First Nation, attended the Ottawa rally and is now one of the spokespeople for Defend our Coast.  She says the protest in Victoria will be peaceful.

"For me, I would rather do a peaceful protest and show a peaceful way of resolution," she told Yahoo! Canada News.

"Our goal is to let the governments in B.C. and Canada know that we're very concerened about our coast and environment and we don't want tankers and pipelines in British Columbia."

Greenpeace spokesman Peter McHugh says that they're expecting hundreds of people; to date 1,100 people have signed the online pledge supporting the sit-in.

"It is possible this will last longer than one day. However, that has yet to be determined," he told Yahoo! Canada.

"The duration of the sit-in depends on the response we get from the provincial government."

Stephen Lewis, David Suzuki, and the Council of Canadians' Maude Barlow have each endorsed the event but have yet to confirm their attendance.