NANAIMO — Chants of “Trans Mountain will never be built” and “We believe we will win” drowned out any work being done in Nanaimo at a federal ministers cabinet retreat.
Hundreds of activists and protesters crowded around the Vancouver Island Conference Centre Wednesday afternoon banging pots, blowing whistles and yelling at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet inside.
Worthing said it was ridiculous the federal government would spend billions of dollars for a pipeline while First Nations reserves across Canada couldn’t get clean running water.
He likened Trudeau to a “smiley-er” Stephen Harper for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which twins an existing pipeline through B.C. and is a contentious issue across Canada.
Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson, holding a press conference beside the protests, said the hundreds of people gathered showed how divided Canada now is because of the pipeline.
“(Trudeau) said he would be a climate leader and he said this was the time for innovation, job creation and renewable energy. And purchasing a 65-year-old leaky pipeline…he got snowed on this.”
Alistair MacGregor, the MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford who joined Malcolmson, said the heavy smoke currently covering Nanaimo and much of the province is a sign of how quickly discussions around the pipeline need to happen.
“It’s our sincere hope this Prime Minister and this cabinet doesn’t fiddle while the province burns,” MacGregor said. “The evidence of climate change is all around us. We need concrete action that doesn’t involve buying a pipeline while the province burns.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Premier John Horgan told reporters he and Trudeau once again discussed their legal conflict over the pipeline, but nothing changed in their respective positions.