Today an International Day of Action Against Oil and Gas Pipelines was called in support of the Unist’ot’en land defenders opposing pipeline development through the Wet’suwet’en Territory (northern interior “British Columbia”). Solidarity rallies were held at least as far as Trinidad, and across Canada. Participating cities included Vancouver, Victoria, Prince George, Kamloops, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Waterloo, Hamilton and Chico, California.

Hamilton’s rally, like many others, took place outside our main Royal Bank branch at 100 King West (Stelco Tower), cited as the second largest financier of Enbridge along with many other Tar Sands ventures. 20-30 gathered over noon-hour to bang drums, hand out fliers and hold signs, many coming straight from City Council discussions. Jackson Square’s new security force, Intelliguard, appeared quickly showing incredible hostility, demanding people leave “their property” and threatening to call the police. For such a small demonstration in an area which has seen dozens over the past years, it was surreal. Police later appeared and did nothing, standing quietly across the street, even when the mall-cops “arrested” one guy for dropping a banner off the second-floor roof.

Enbridge also came up again today at City Council, revisiting the issue after the General Issues Committee failed to make quorum last week. Councillor McHattie’s motion to study the Enbridge’s proposed reversal of Line 9 was passed(!), and we can now await a report back from staff about Council’s options, if any, to challenge, monitor and mitigate this disaster waiting to happen.

Worries about a potential spill have only worsened after yet another spill on an Enbridge pipeline last week, this time near Chicago. This time Line 14 burst, spilling 900 barrels at the Mokena tank farm, forcing a shutdown of the line. In a region where the company is already reeling from another spill on the line last summer, and the infamous Kalamazoo River spill in 2010.

Concerns about Line 9 are now being raised all the way into Quebec. Combined with the dramatic actions being taken now by the Unist’ot’en and the widespread actions across the United States opposing the Keystone XL, we’re witnessing the growth of an international movement against these pipelines. Everywhere they try to take this oil and gas communities are standing up to oppose it. The Unist’ot’en are on the front lines of an increasingly continental struggle, but if today’s actions show anything, it’s that they’re not alone.

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