The Council of Canadians - Winnipeg Chapter



Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on May 29, 2015 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

There are many economic and environmental reasons to say NO to the pipeline. Here we’ll look briefly at several issues; sources and more information can be found in the recently released report, “Potential Impacts of the Energy East Pipeline On Winnipeg.”

The report covers concerns about the effect of a leak near rivers, drainage ditches, aquifers, and lakes; and the risk to Winnipeg’s aqueduct carrying drinking water from Shoal Lake to Winnipeg. A section on pipeline failure looks at the realities of converting a leaking 40 year old natural gas pipeline to carry the far more corrosive and toxic diluted bitumen. The differences between a natural gas line failure and the far more extreme consequences of a dilbit line failure are examined, including a look at the dangers of deadly hydrogen sulphide. The report also addresses the need for safety and emergency measures in the event of explosion and fire, and the longer term effects of a spill on residents, recreation and commercial interests.

We've opened our blog series with a quick overview of points to be considered. Articles focusing on specific issues will be added over the next two weeks. 


Potential Impacts and Problems of the Energy East Pipeline in Manitoba




  • TransCanada has an extensive history of pipeline failure. More failures will occur.

  • The prairie section of the pipeline is 40 years old. The coating is made of asphalt and it has deteriorated so much that it can’t protect against cracking.

  • TransCanada relies on a standard inspection system ( “smart pigs” ) that is unreliable and often does not detect leaks. Most leaks have eventually been noticed by people, not by the inspection system.

  • The Calgary based system for monitoring pressure in the pipeline is ineffective. It can only detect spills over 2.6 million litres per day, and relies on people to properly interpret the pressure signals.




  • Hydrogen Sulphide (a deadly toxic and corrosive gas) will form in the pipeline from the sulphur contained in bitumen. Microbes in the pipeline act on sulphur to turn it into H2S, and high temperatures in the pipeline can transform sulphur into H2S.

  • The pipeline is known to have continuous small leaks that could expose the public to deadly hydrogen sulphide gas and other toxins.

  • Natural gas lines that explode are near enough to the parallel dilbit line to cause a fire and explosion. A dilbit explosion is much bigger, longer lasting, and more dangerous than a natural gas explosion. A dilbit explosion could be lethal due to deadly toxic smoke and fumes.

  • Pressure surges could rupture the line. They could also cause toxic fumes to vent through surge protection valves or surge tanks.

  • The rate of benzene leaking undetected out of a 3mm hole in the pipeline dissolved by the average precipitation rate over the Hazel Creek watershed gives a benzene concentration 346 times the allowed limit.



  • Because the pipeline crosses waterways and aquifers in Manitoba, there is a significant risk to drinking water in many communities, including Kenton, Rivers, Sioux Valley, Brandon, Neepawa, Portage and Sanford.

  • Extensive drainage ditches around Winnipeg often empty into waterways, and could extend the reach of a spill.

  • The pipeline crosses two major surface aquifers. The Assiniboine Delta aquifer supplies water for agriculture, town wells and Manitoba’s potato industry.The Sandilands Aquifer is an “ecological gem” that is home to the headwaters of five watersheds.

  • The pipeline travels within a spill reach of the Winnipeg aqueduct for the entire length of the aqueduct. The aqueduct is porous and could be contaminated from nearby pipeline spills.

  • Unseen soluble toxins like benzene from small continuous undetected spills could enter the aqueduct from contaminated surface water.

  • A spill could contaminate city waterways including the Red, Seine and La Salle Rivers. (The Kalamazoo River is still closed in many sections, four years after the spill.)

  • Recreational activities in river walkways and parks will be compromised due to tar balls and other lingering sources of contamination.

  • Valuable fish habitat could be destroyed from a spill.

  • Water contamination will cause temporary or long term loss of the sport fishery.

  • A spill will contaminate sources of irrigation for agriculture, manufacturing and recreation (golf courses for instance).




  • Evacuation because of toxic fumes, explosion, and fire is not addressed in the TransCanada submission. (In Kalamazoo, residents within one mile of the river evacuated their homes. 150 homes were permanently relocated.)

  • The expense and impossibility of cleaning up dilbit spills is clearly demonstrated by the ongoing unsuccessful efforts in Kalamazoo.

  • Toxic dilbit spills cause long term ecological damage and contamination of the food chain

  • Contaminated river bank property will suffer devaluation.

  • There will be a loss of commercial activity on the river such as boat tours and water taxis.

  • Continued expansion of tar sands and use of bitumen means more climate change, ecocide, sulphur waste and petroleum coke waste. (These vital issues are not currently considered in the decision making process.)





Winnipeg: Energy East: Our Risk Their Reward Tour

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on April 12, 2015 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Council of Canadians - Winnipeg Chapter were among the hundreds gathered at the recent Energy East: Our Risk Their Reward Prairie Speaking Tour on April 11 at the Fort Garry Hotel. Opening with an Energy East 101 for audience members who were new to the issue, panelists presented on several unique areas of opposition to the pipeline. The many questions asked during the Q&A and conversations at informal info sessions afterwards indicated a strong commitment amongst Winnipeggers to put a stop to this pipeline development.

Ben Gotschall of Bold Nebraska shared his experiences and the extraordinary grassroots mobilization that grew in the fight against Keystone XL. “I moved from NIMBY to NOPE, not on planet Earth,” he said, in a reference to the way Nebraskans quickly realized that it wasn’t enough to keep the pipeline out of Nebraska. Bold Nebraska gained momentum and volunteers as they fought to stop the pipeline altogether.

Chief of Iskatewizaagegan (Shoal Lake 39) First Nation Fawn Wapioke spoke from the heart about the indigenous relationship with water and land, describing rivers as the veins of Mother Earth. Chief Wapioke invited the audience to participate in and support the Eagle Lake to Shoal Lake Treaty 3 Anishinaabe Water Walk planned for August 3-7. The walkers will follow the pipeline route and can be contacted at

National chair of the Council of Canadians Maude Barlow wrapped up the evening, addressing the shortage of water around the world, the way we are drying up the land when we remove vegetation, California’s reality of finally running out of water, and the frightening disappearance of China’s rivers. (Since 1990, half of the rivers have disappeared. Not polluted, she said. Gone.) Somehow Maude still managed to offer a sense of hope and solidarity, finishing to a standing ovation from an appreciative audience.

Both the Winnipeg Chapter and the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition (the Council of Canadians-Winnipeg Chapter is a member of the coalition) were present with fact sheets, locally specific information and opportunities for more engagement. Many of the audience members signed an online petition to the energy minister Chomiak, asking the minister to refuse permits for the Energy East Pipeline; and also put their names to the Wilderness Committee/MEJC postcards carrying a similar message. The Act On Climate photo booth was busy, with volunteers adding dozens of new messages to the Premiers’ Conference in Quebec, where Canada’s climate change policy is under discussion.

With such an enthusiastic show of support from Winnipeggers, the MEJC is continuing its plans for more public events, political action and engagement of Manitobans outside Winnipeg. There is an orientation session for new volunteers on April 26, 1PM at the St Norbert Community Centre. All are welcome!

For more info, or to register to attend, please contact us at or the MEJC at

Watch here for an upcoming series of blogs interpreting several of the many issues with the Energy East proposal that must be addressed; and the soon to be released peer reviewed report examining potential impacts of the Energy East pipeline on Manitoba.

Contributor: Mary Robinson - Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter Chair

Take Action Manitoba! Stop Energy East

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on November 30, 2014 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (0)

From our friends at NO ENERGY EAST MB

What you can do right now to help stop the Energy East pipeline.


TransCanada has submitted their application for Energy East to the National Energy Board (NEB). The clock is now ticking – once the NEB decides that the project application is complete, it has 15 months to make its final decision. We need to intervene now.

Full information and documentation for the Energy East Project can be found on the NEB website.

There are five things you can do right now (hyperlink to each):

(1) Sign these letters (below)

(2) Join our mailing list and Facebook page

(3) Join Energy East Action Network

(4) Apply to be an intervenor in the National Energy Board review process (See below)

(5) Get your business, organization, religious community, or professional association to sign on to our open Letter (below)

What is wrong with the NEB process?

The NEB hearing process is rigged. Even the former chair of Manitoba Hydro thinks so.

The NEB is leaving impacts of the tar sands on climate change out of the review process. The scope of the Board’s assessment will be limited to Physical Facilities Matters - Part III of the NEB Act and Commercial and Financial Matters - Part IV and V of the NEB Act.

On its website the NEB states that “The Board does not have regulatory authority over upstream or downstream activities associated with the development of oilsands, or the end use of the oil to be transported by the Project. Therefore, the Board will not consider these issues.”

Without assessing the pipeline project in the context of wider tar sands development we cannot actually understand the effects of this project on our atmosphere. We need to demand the NEB assess the cumulative effects of fossil fuel developments, not just the greenhouse emissions from construction and operation phases of the project.

It is also likely that many of the people affected by this pipeline will be shut out of participation in the NEB hearing. The Board will only hear from the people “who stand to be directly impacted” by the project, or from those who have “information and expertise” that could help the panel gain a greater understanding of the project.

We know that everyone is directly impacted by this project, because everyone is directly impacted by climate change and by the many other impacts on our waterways. Still, it is widely believed that the Board will take a very narrow definition of “directly impacted” to reject hundreds if not thousands of applications by individuals and groups to participate in the hearings.

We need to apply to participate in this process to put political pressure on the government and on the NEB to recognize that we are all affected by this project. We need to demand the NEB consider the climatic effects of the development of the tar sands. If the NEB does not allow us to talk about the tar sands we will join in a campaign to oppose the NEB.

How can I participate in the NEB process?

Step One

To participate in the NEB process is to fill out this subscription form to receive news and up-dates related to the hearing process.

Step Two

You must also participate in an NEB information session.

These "NEB 101" sessions are between 30 and 40 minutes and are followed by a question period. The sessions will give you a general background to the NEB and the hearing process and will include information specific to the Energy East project.

The sessions are offered on line, or you can participate by phone and follow along with an English or French pdf of the presentation that can be found on the NEB website. You can call 1-877-413-4781, and use the access code 7592393.

By signing up for up-dates from the NEB you will have immediate access to news and developments regarding TransCanada’s application.

You can familiarize yourself with the hearing process by reviewing the NEB Hearing Process Handbook.

Where do I find the letters to sign?

There are many letters you can sign to the NEB., the Council of Canadians, and Lead Now are all asking people to sign letters in support of a better NEB process. is encouraging people to join them, and they have a letter campaign encouraging NEB Chair Paul Watson to include climate impacts in the review. Send your letter here: Give Energy East a People's Intervention.

The Council of Canadians has launched Our Risk: Their Reward, and has a similar letter campaign that you can find here: We need a fair pipeline review. Lead Now’s No Legitimacy campaign is here.

No Energy East Manitoba Open Letter (directly below)

We will be launching an open letter from Manitobans to the National Energy Board on December 8th. Please sign on to this letter pushing NEB Chair Paul Watson to include upstream and downstream effects of the tar sands in the review.

If you have any questions or want more information please check out our website or email us at


To Peter Watson, Chair of the National Energy Board of Canada

Re: An Open Letter to the National Energy Board on TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline

Dear Mr. Watson,

We, the under signed, are writing to urge the National Energy Board to amend its review of TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline. We believe that the review process must consider the full scope of the proposed project’s environmental and human impacts, including upstream and downstream effects. Any regulatory review should include not only the impact of the pipeline itself, but also the cumulative impacts of producing, refining, and burning the oil that would flow through it, if the project were approved.

If the NEB continues to refuse to assess upstream and downstream impacts you are leaving essential questions unanswered:

  • What are the global climate impacts of burning the oil this pipeline carries?

  • Understanding that this project would enable tar sands expansion, what consequences would Energy East have on the world’s ability to keep global average temperatures below a 2 degree Celsius temperature rise?

  • What would be the economic and health effects of increased tar sands production on communities, including First Nations communities, near the tar sands and along the pipeline?

  • What are the projected economic costs of the national and global climate impacts associated with any project which increases tar sand production? Who would be most likely to bear these costs?

  • What kinds of climate adaptation plans would be required based on the climate impacts of this proposed project? Who would develop them? Who would pay for them, and how?

Without a full and transparent accounting of the global climate impacts and associated economic and health costs of this project, we cannot in good conscience consider the National Energy Board to be acting in the best interest of Canadian families. Without including these critical questions, how can we believe the NEB to be undertaking a legitimate review of the proposal?

It is in your power to add these areas of concern to the “list of issues” for consideration. If it is currently outside the scope of the regulatory powers of the NEB to address these questions, we urge you to exercise exemplary moral leadership and refuse to review this pipeline and petition parliament to grant you the legal authority to do so.

For a resilient and stable future,

No Energy East Manitoba – Energy Justice Coalition

Idle No More Winnipeg

The University of Winnipeg Students Association

The Council of Canadians – Winnipeg Chapter

Winnipeg Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement

Boreal Action

Hazards of Transportation of Manitoba Crude Oil

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on October 9, 2014 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (4)

Hazards of Transportation of Manitoba Crude Oil


D.M. LeNeveu


Almost all of the oil produced now in Manitoba is from horizontal wells using hydraulic fracturing (1,2).



Much of Manitoba crude oil is transported by pipeline and rail cars from the distribution centre at Cromer, Manitoba (28,38 ).  Three major pipelines pass through Cromer: the Enbridge main line, the Enbridge Bakken line and the TransCanada Keystone line (40,41,42). The Enbridge main line consists of seven parallel pipelines running in a single corridor entering Manitoba west of Virden and exiting near Gretna (43). In addition to crude oil from Manitoba, these pipelines carry oil from Saskatchewan, Alberta including diluted bitumen from the tar sands and from the Bakken in the US. The remainder of Manitoba crude is shipped primarily by rail car. The terminal at Cromer Manitoba is rated as having a rail capacity of 60 thousand barrels a day. The volume shipped by rail is predicted to increase from 200 thousand barrels a day in Western Canada in 2014 to almost 800 thousand by 2016 (28 ).


The total oil production in Manitoba in 2012 was 18.5 million barrels (1). This is small by global standards but the burning of this fuel contributes to global warming.


Manitoba crude oil is normally transported as a light sour crude blend (LSB) containing typically one per cent sulphur by weight, four percent gas by volume (mostly butane), two percent benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene (BTEX),  and an undisclosed amount of H2S (3). BTEX is one of the most dangerous, persistent and mobile environmental contaminants (4).  The maximum acceptable concentration of benzene in Canadian drinking water is five micrograms per litre (5).  H2S is a deadly toxic gas (66). There is no prescribed limit for H2S in crude oil (67).


The National Energy Board (NEB) is responsible for regulation of interprovincial and international pipelines in Canada. A spill from a pipeline under NEB jurisdiction must be reported immediately and an emergency response plan filed, an environmental site assessment and a remedial action plan must be submitted. The NEB must approve a closure report demonstrating all standards have been met (6). Between 2006 and 2012 there were five pipeline accidents under NEB jurisdiction within Manitoba (7). Last winter an explosion of a TransCanada gas pipeline occurred in Otterburne Manitoba (8 ).  Enbridge was found to be negligent in a pipeline spill in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan of nearly three million litres of diluted bitumen (dilbit) from Alberta that took more than four years to cleanup at a cost of more than one billion dollars (9).  The Enbridge pipeline that carries the dilbit crosses Manitoba.


Intra-provincial pipe lines are under the jurisdiction of the Manitoba government (6).

In 2012 there were ninety recorded oil spills under Manitoba jurisdiction comprising 795 thousand litres (10). Wellhead leaks accounted for 40% of the spilled volume, pipeline and flowline breaks, 14% , oil batteries failure, 11%,  tank leakage, 18%, and trucking, 14%.  Rail oil spill data for Manitoba is unavailable. Rail has a thirty three times higher spill rate than pipelines according to US statistics but, based on spill volume, the rate is only 2.7 times higher (14). The oil companies at fault are responsible for the cost of spill cleanup in Manitoba. In a typical spill, a vacuum truck collects the freestanding fluid and washes the soil. The fluids are transported to an approved disposal facility. Gypsum and calcium nitrate are used for remediation of brines from oil spills.  Where remediation is not feasible, the contaminated soil is recovered and disposed of at an approved facility (1).  The effectiveness of these measures can be questioned. Removal of surface contaminated soil will not necessarily remove all of mobile BTEX contamination (15). In 2013, an oil spill from an underground flow line near the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border of more than 100 thousand litres was not detected for more than 10 days, more than enough time for soluble BTEX contaminants to seep deep into the ground (11). Under aerobic conditions benzene will be degraded after about one year, however under anaerobic conditions BTEX contamination can persist much longer (16).


There are guidelines from Manitoba Environment requiring soil testing of petroleum contaminated soil from storage tanks however no regulations could be found pertaining to soil testing to ensure effectiveness of the remediation and cleanup of oil spills (17). There is criticism that many oil spills in Manitoba go unreported, inspection and enforcement of regulations is inadequate, enforcement should be independent of the Petroleum Branch that promotes the oil industry, and the petroleum industry in Manitoba is largely self regulated (12, 13).  


In addition to surface spills there is evidence that drill mud sprayed onto agricultural land can contain BTEX contaminants (18 ). The contaminants can come from fracking fluids, drilling fluids and from oil and gas released into formations during fracking operations. Fugitive releases of oil and gas can be expected to be particularly large in shut-in periods in open-hole completion commonly used with horizontal wells where rock is exposed and hydraulic fracturing has opened fractures penetrating deep into the formations (19). At least 10% of wells can be shut-in in Manitoba for periods up to three years or more. (20,68 ). Oil and gas fluids that are less dense than the surrounding brine will leak into the horizontal wells during shut-in. Buoyancy pressure will act on the fugitive oil and gas driving it upwards through induced and natural fractures and permeable pathways and into aquifers (20). Upward movement of these less dense fluids will lower the pressure in the horizontal wells causing further and ongoing release essentially creating a gas and oil siphon. Also vertical well sections are known to leak gas and oil into the formations through cement defects around steel casings (70,71,72). Subsequent drilling operations will encounter such fugitive gas and oil that will contaminate the drill mud that is eventually sprayed onto the land (74).  In Manitoba there are regulations pertaining to hydrocarbon (<0.1% dry weight), salts, heavy metal and concentrations in land spray (73). There is no requirement to measure or restrict BTEX contamination. No independent testing and recording of soil concentrations and spray area is done and violations are investigated only upon a complaint basis.  


The explosive content of Manitoba crude oil is similar to the Bakken crude that exploded and destroyed Megantic (3,22), killing 47 people on July 6, 2013. (23,24). The estimated 400 million clean up reconstruction cost for Lac Megantic is being born by government (27). An explosion and fire of crude oil is accompanied by a large toxic black smoke plume such as occurred in the train derailment and crude oil fire near Casselton, North Dakota in 2013 (25). Such a plume could necessitate the evacuation of an entire city such as Winnipeg (26). After the Lac Megantic incident several emergency rulings were issued in the US and Canada regarding rail safety and rail car specifications (28 ). Older railcars with less stringent safety features are to be phased out in Canada over a period of three years (29). Concerns remain that these measures are insufficient to prevent further disasters especially considering the forecasted increase in oil shipments by rail (30). Rail lines carrying LSB run right through the heart of Winnipeg and oil pipelines run near many southwest Manitoba towns. The planned Energy East pipeline for carrying dilbit will follow the Trans-Canada highway in Manitoba and pass through the southern boundary of Winnipeg (79).


Fugitive emissions from pipelines are known to occur through leaking seals and through pressure relief valves that occur at intervals along the line. Pressure relief valves are required to relieve pressure from line pressure surges that could breach the pipe (31). The NEB has recently issued warning regarding the danger of pipeline breaks from inadequate pressure relief measures in pipelines (32). Enbridge and other pipeline companies have been cited in improper pipeline design to account for pressure relief (33,34). Fugitive pipeline releases such from pressure relief valves and leaking seals are known to contribute to greenhouse gas burden and can be toxic especially in lines carrying hydrogen sulphide gas (35, 36, 37).


For every litre of oil produced in Manitoba there is from 5 to 65 litres of sour gas. The hydrogen sulphide content of the gas ranges from less than 0.01% to 13.5% (44). The oil in Manitoba is sent through heat treaters to remove residual water content. In this process much of the sour solution gas is driven off and flared. Some is captured to use as fuel in the heat treater (44). The organic sulphur in oil can decompose upon heating in the heat treater to form H2S (49,50). The gas remaining in the oil after heat treatment (primarily butane (3)) will contain hydrogen sulphide. There is no available measurement of hydrogen sulphide content of oil transported in Manitoba. However, based on gas content of LSB from Manitoba and Saskatchewan (4%) and the range of H2S in sour gas content in Manitoba (0.01 to 13.5% (44)), the content H2S content of oil can be estimated to be between 4 and 5400 ppm. It could be argued most of the H2S would be driven off in the heat treater. However given that H2S has a higher boiling point (-60˚ C)  than methane (-258.7˚ C), and ethane (-127.5˚ C) the major constituents of Manitoba sour gas (47, 48 ) and thermal decomposition of organic sulphur to H2S is likely to occur in the heat treater, the H2S percentage in the reaming gas is likely to be greater after heat treatment. The H2S content of one heat treater oil sample near Virden from 1974 archived on a Manitoba government website was 100 ppm by volume (80) which is consistent with the predicted range. Further production of H2S from the sulphur in oil (1% in LSB) is likely to occur in tanks, railcars and pipelines from sulphate reducing bacteria (51,52). Thus the final H2S concentration in transported oil would likely be higher than the estimated range of 4 to 5400 ppm.

The bacterial production of hydrogen sulphide in pipelines can lead to corrosion and failure as has occurred in the Prudhoe Bay oil spill and the Trans Alaska pipeline (57,58,59, 60). In Lac Megantic it is suspected that exposure to H2S from the crude oil in the rail cars contributed to the death toll (61).


In the US, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved requests from oil pipeline companies to restrict H2S content in oil to 5 ppm to protect workers (53).  There is no restriction or reporting of hydrogen sulphide content in oil from Manitoba. Transport of sour oil and gas in Manitoba exposes both the public and workers to risk from deadly hydrogen sulphide gas (66).


To ensure that H2S in pipelines and rail cars is less than 5 ppm, sulphur would have to be removed at source requiring expensive desulphurization plants (54, 75). In the tar sands and elsewhere in Alberta and B.C. huge stockpiles of elemental sulphur are accumulating at an unacceptable and alarming rate from such plants (55). These stockpiles present an unfunded environmentally toxic liability.  In Alberta and B.C., injection of hydrogen sulphide gas into depleted or operational oil and gas fields is being used as the preferred method of sulphur disposal (56). These oil and gas fields contain numerous wells that will eventually leak with potentially severe environmental consequences (76, 77). As sweet oil and gas reserves are depleted the extraction of sour oil and gas will increase as will the environmental sulphur liability. Sulphur and H2S in oil and gas is an insoluble problem for the petroleum industry (55,78 ).  In Canada for instance the sulphur liability of the tar sands alone is a massive 14 billion metric tonnes (62,63).     


In Manitoba all hydrogen sulphide from sour gas is flared. Flaring of H2S from desulphurization plants used to remove sulphur from the oil to allow safer transportation would exacerbate environmentally damaging and toxic emissions of H2S and sulphur dioxide. Measurements of exceedences of guidelines for hydrogen sulphide exposure have occurred in the Tilston area in Manitoba (48 ). It has been reported that in a ranch in the Tilston area where exceedences were measured, over forty head of cattle died. The owner of the ranch found his one-year old grandson overcome by flaring fumes inside his own home. Fortunately he managed to revive the boy. The rancher is now in a long term care facility and four of his neighbours have abandoned their homes (65).

Why are we continuing on this destructive pathway of fossil fuel extraction? Manitoba has plenty of hydro, wind and solar potential. How close is your family to a pipeline, railway or flare stack? Is it not time we stood up and put an end to this madness?

Contributor: Dennis LeNeveu - Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter


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Along the Pipeline

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on September 2, 2014 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)


Three months ago I hosted Robert and Adam on the Winnipeg stop of their Along the Pipeline project. They traveled the length of the pipeline route from Hardisty, Alberta to St.John, New Brunswick, stopping to speak with farmers, business people, activists, and anyone with a story to tell; using portraits and multimedia pieces to "put a human face on this pipeline proposal."



I've had the privilege of helping to transcribe some of the sixty hours of interviews with people along the route; hours that have given me a deep-seated sense of resistance as my understanding grows. Before listening to the interviews, I thought I knew what the pipeline meant for the land and for the people who live here. Moreover, I thought that there was more general awareness of some of the basics of the pipeline, but I clearly underestimated TransCanada's ability to keep secrets and strategically misinform.

Export Pipeline


Many of the people I listened to were shocked to discover that this is primarily an export pipeline intended to feed the global market for the direct benefit of the owning corporations rather than a pipeline to supply an “ethical” source of Canadian oil to the Maritimes.



In addition, I heard a sense that the "Canadianness" of the oil made it a preferable, patriotic choice that would benefit ordinary Canadians. The reality is that unlike Norway ’and its sovereign wealth fund  "which collects taxes from oil profits and invests the money," Canada has no such policy. Even Alberta, home of the oil sands, is piling up debt while Suncor and other oil sands companies (including Chinese government owned corporation PetroChina) continue to profit. (Report on Business article)



Around the world the oil sands have been characterized as a “filthy habit,” (Times of London) the "new dirty energy," (Boston Globe) and “The Biggest Environmental Crime in History” (The Independent). There is a growing upsurge of global resistance, and here in Canada groups across the country are organizing to stop pipelines and put an end to the oil sands.(Albert Reviews)



The Unist’ot’en Camp is a resistance community in BC built on unceded Wet'suwet'en territory “directly in the path of the proposed energy corridor across northern BC. As long as it stands, no pipelines can be built.” As they establish a quickly growing year-round stewardship of their traditional lands, they engage in educational outreach. Projects include teaching visitors traditional construction skills through the communal building of a pithouse that will serve as a permanent winter home for the main family of defenders, and the documentary film RESIST-The Unist’oten’s Call to the Land, by Simple Matters Films.



The Energy East Resistance Ride is a group of four youth cycling from Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Ottawa, Ontario. They are supporting and encouraging new pipeline resistance through community-building events, conversations with hosts, and their blog posts of photos and comments from people they’ve met along the way.


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Closer to home in Manitoba, No Energy East Aki is an indigenous/settler alliance of individuals and organizations (now expanded into two cooperative groups: Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, focused on regulatory action, and a grassroots indigenous group focused on defending the land). No Energy East Aki emerged after the First Nations strategy session at Thunderbird House last March that brought together First Nations leaders from all along the Energy East pipeline corridor. This group is especially concerned with the threat to Winnipeg’s drinking water that will result from a spill where the pipeline passes close to Shoal Lake; and the adding-insult-to-injury threat to Shoal Lake 40 and 39 First Nations, already suffering greatly from the restrictions placed upon them by the hundred year expropriation of their lands.


What's Your Story?

Communities along the pipeline are waking up. A long-time resident of a small town in Northern Ontario followed the numbers and realized that the jobs promised by TransCanada would amount to no more than two or three permanent jobs in his area once the pipeline was finished. A fisherman looked at the possibility--the probability--of a tanker accident in the bay where he’d spent his childhood learning his trade, and he didn’t like what he saw. Retirees hoping to pass on to grandchildren pristine land in places like Lake of the Woods and the Ottawa River are becoming anxious, wondering if it will all be gone by the time another generation grows up.


There are so many ways to resist, and so many different stories inspiring people everywhere to stand up for clean energy, respect for the land, and recognition of indigenous rights. Along the Pipeline tells many of these stories, and truly demonstrates “the strength of individuals and communities, what they value and how this project will have far reaching implications.”


What’s your story? What inspires you to support--or even join--the frontlines as we work together to save the earth for future generations?


Contributor: Mary Robinson - Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter Chair