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Why We Might Just Win This Fight Against the Tar Sands

11/27/2014 05:31 EST | Updated 01/27/2015 05:59 EST

In the fight against the tar sands there are good weeks and bad weeks and then there are weeks like this one where you can't help but feel that we might just win.

This week on both sides of the country tar sands pipeline pushers got a huge wake-up call.

On the west coast, the pictures and stories from Burnaby Mountain have been continuously inspiring as day after day, row after row of people ranging in age from 11 to 87 have climbed the mountain to risk arrest and say no to Kinder Morgan's tar sands pipeline plans and yes to a green, just, and renewable energy future.

People like 74-year-old grand mother Della Glendenning, or 84-year-old retired librarian Barbara Grant. They each climbed the mountain and crossed the police line to stand up for the climate. 11-year old Kate crossed the police line on Sunday with her mom Kim, and yesterday some of the original organizers of the blockades in Clayoquot Sound were reunited on the mountain as they crossed the police line together.

"20 years ago we stood on the road in Clayoquot Sound and sparked a national debate that changed the way forestry was done. Standing on the road here today on Burnaby Mountain we will ensure our governments stop protecting polluters and start protecting people." Karen Mahon said as she was being arrested.

Grandmothers, preachers, choir masters, teachers, students, the list of those who have stood up goes on and on and there numbers show no sign of waning. In total over 100 people have been arrested and the numbers will continue to rise. They are building on the amazing work of the Caretakers, a group of local residents who have been camped out on Burnaby Mountain for weeks, and in some cases months, holding the line against Kinder Morgan.

Today Grand Chief Stewart Phillip is making his way to the mountain. He said as he crosses the police line he will, "think of our grandchildren".

On Saturday hundreds more will join, as the movement says with one clear voice that Frontlines beat Pipelines.

Read my co-worker Melina Laboucan Massimo's first hand account.

On the other side of the country, Canada's 'alternative to the Keystone XL' TransCanada's Energy East tar sands pipeline just got a whole whack of trouble. A big piece of it came from 24-year old Quebecois activist and author Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.

Last week, Nadeau-Dubois won the Governor General's Award for French-language non-fiction for his book Tenir tête (Stand Up), a memoir chronicling the Quebec student protests. This week when he appeared on a Radio Canada talk show he announced that he would donate the $25,000 literary prize to the fight to stop the Energy East tar sands pipeline.

"At this time, in Quebec, there are very, very powerful interests that wish to transform our country into a highway for the export of oil from Alberta's tar sands," Nadeau-Dubois said.

Not only did Nadeau-Dubois donate the $25,000 prize but he challenged viewers to match his donation. The viewers didn't just match his donation but as of yesterday had donated over $340,000 to keep tar sands pipelines out of Quebec.

In addition to the rising No Energy East tar sands war chest. TransCanada got three other pieces of bad news. The first is that the vast majority of Quebec doesn't support the project. In fact just 30 per cent of Quebecers are in favour and that's before the recent Nadeau-Dubois publicity.

The second is that Quebec and Ontario have both decided to do their own Provincial review of the project and unlike the National Energy Board assessment will actually include the climate impacts of the pipeline (a la Barack Obama). Given the fact the tarsands production needed to fill the Energy East pipeline would generate an additional 30 to 32 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year, the equivalent of adding more than seven million cars to Canada's roads, the outlook for TransCanada meeting any reasonable climate test isn't good.

The last piece is thanks to the intrepid work of Greenpeace's own Keith Stewart who exposed the dirty tactics PR firm Edelman and TransCanada were gearing up to roll out across the country. Since the strategy was made public TransCanada and Edelman have had to back track and just today announced that they were parting ways. It seems like they didn't like having their dirty tactics in the limelight. ;)

So if you are a person that cares about the health of the planet, that wants Canada to listen to science, and thinks we should stand up for the rights of the First Peoples of this land then this week is one that should make you breathe a little easier, at least on the tar sands front.

The battle to stop the tar sands is far from over but this week shows that when we work together and support each other, when we are bold and courageous we can climb and move mountains.

We are growing in numbers every day, and together we can and already are changing the world.

Thank you for all that you have already done and for the collective feats we have yet to do.

You have my heart and my fist.

Mike

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