• Carmen Marie Fabio

Donations to anti-pipeline movement exceed expectations


PHOTO COURTESY CITOYENS AU COURANT

Local Citoyens au courant members, part of the greater Coule pas chez nous movement, are celebrating the recent financial boost received to protest the TransCanada pipeline project following a plea from politician and activist Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois who himself offered $25,000.

What started out as a challenge for Quebec residents to match a $25,000 prize to Coule pas chez nous to fight the TransCanada Pipeline Energy East project surpassed expectations within two weeks’ time to grow to $385,000. Former student leader and Parti Québécois member Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois started the campaign by donating his winnings from the Governor General’s Literary Award on his essay about the 2012 Printemps d’érable student uprising that saw thousands of students mobilize to protest tuition fee increases.

“It strikes me that this is a citizen outpouring, in contrast to what I see as ‘bought’ public support from TransCanada,” said Citoyens au courants member Katherine Massam. “They’ve paid enormous sums of money in PR on how to buy public opinion in Quebec and on misleading advertising.” The American firm of Edelman Public Relations recently ended its relationship with TransCanada following documents that were leaked by Greenpeace environmental group that exposed recommendations to the pipeline giant on how to target opponents of the Energy East project. Vaudreuil-Soulanges citizen group

Citoyens au courants is composed of home and landowners living in one of the many regions through which the proposed pipeline will travel. The members are challenging both the Enbridge 9B reversal project and the TransCanada pipeline project that seek to transport diluted bitumen from the Alberta tarsands project eastward to refineries in Montreal East prior to exporting it to overseas markets.

PHOTO COURTESY CITOYENS AU COURANT

Local Citoyens au courant members, part of the greater Coule pas chez nous movement, are celebrating the recent financial boost received to protest the TransCanada pipeline project following a plea from politician and activist Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois who himself offered $25,000.

Massam said they applaud the donations as a comparatively small but significant boost as they face-off against a monolith that includes over two dozen lobbyists and an aggressive public relations campaign designed to woo Quebecers. “We’re still discussing what we’ll do with the money,” said Coule pas chez nous spokesperson Jacques Tétreault.

But for right now, our focus is to provide citizens with up-to-date information about the pipeline projects. We believe in civil intelligence and we’re sure that when we explain something correctly to the residents, they can make their own minds up (about the pipeline).” Tétreault said the collective goal of all the citizen groups is to ensure the quality of the province’s land and potable water supplies, a mandate they advocate for without a political re-election agenda or financial incentives.

“That’s the only goal we have, and I think that’s why people have been so generous with us.” Though the group initially formed five years ago in reaction to shale gas exploration, its focus for the last nine months has been on the proposed pipeline projects. Both groups have stated that the pipeline project will not stop the tanker trains loaded with oil that regularly travel through the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region.

“The industry never said the pipeline would stop the trains,” said Tétreault, pointing out most of the oil is destined for export rather than domestic consumption. The oil industry is heavily subsidized by the federal government to the tune of $1.7 billion last year. “It gives you an idea of how strong (the lobbyists) are,” said Tétreault. “That’s their livelihood.” He said while the financial focus remains on the oil industry, precious little attention is being paid to climate change at the federal level, particularly when part of the National Energy Board’s funding comes from the pipeline industries.

“It illustrates how stupid our government is to let these things happen,” said Tétreault. As of press time, plans for the TransCanada pipeline project through Cacouna, Quebec, were suspended following environmental studies that found it threatened beluga whale breeding grounds. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard ane Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met with Alberta Premier Jim Prentice this week to establish a list of safety conditions and reiterated the project is strongly contingent upon local support.

With the exception of the Green Party, the current federal parties have all said they support the pipeline projects provided all safety parameters are met, a statement challenged by Tétreault. “It’s easy to say that but in reality, you can’t run a pipeline without any incidents. But politicians say things people want to hear. “The more energy and money that’s put in to convince the public shows me it’s a bad thing for the people,” said Tétreault. “Just take any kind of product. If it’s good, you don’t have to put a lot of money into publicity. A good product doesn’t need a lot of money to be sold.”

For more information consult www.coulepascheznous.com

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