Trans Mountain pipeline to be operational by Canada Day; cost should include RCMP repression of Indigenous resistance to the megaproject

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: On March 19, 2018, Dan Wallace, of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation was tackled by RCMP officers at a protest against the Kinder Morgan pipeline in Burnaby on the lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Kwikwetlem peoples. By May 2018, the Canadian government had bought the pipeline.

The CBC reports: “The odyssey of developing and building the Trans Mountain expansion project in Western Canada is finally nearing the finishing line as sections of the pipeline begin filling with oil. The first export shipment will happen before Canada Day [July 1], the federal Crown corporation said, although Alberta’s premier [Danielle Smith] expects it could become operational as soon as May.”

The pipeline

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX) is an 890,000 barrel per day, 1,147-kilometre pipeline that crosses Indigenous territories from Alberta to the British Columbia coast. Almost half the length of the pipeline – 518 kilometres of it – crosses Secwepemc territory in British Columbia without their free, prior and informed consent.

The Canadian government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bought the existing 300,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion in May 2018. It is now estimated that the final cost of the pipeline expansion will be more than $30.9 billion.

RCMP repression of resistance

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) spent at least $3,535,542.00 on their activities to ensure the pipeline would be completed despite the resistance of Indigenous peoples and allies.

Even before the formation of the C-IRG in 2017, the RCMP was actively stopping Indigenous resistance to the construction of the pipeline.

Photo: In November 2014, Sundance Chief Rueben George looked on as his mother, 71-year-old Tsleil-Waututh Elder Amy George, was arrested for protesting against the Kinder Morgan drill site on Burnaby Mountain.

UN Committee calls on Canada to withdraw RCMP

In December 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Canada “to immediately cease construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project and cancel all permits, until free, prior and informed consent is obtained from all the Secwepemc people, following the full and adequate discharge of the duty to consult.” Notably, the UN Committee also called on Canada to withdraw the RCMP from the traditional lands of the Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en peoples.

UN Special Rapporteur concerned about “militarization of Indigenous lands”

In March 2023, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples José Francisco Calí Tzay visited Canada. In his preliminary findings, he noted:

“During my visit, I was informed that a large number of megaprojects in Indigenous territories proceed without good faith consultation and in the absence of obtaining Indigenous Peoples’ free, prior and informed consent as, in the case of Trans Mountain Pipeline. I am also concerned about the ongoing militarization of Indigenous lands and the criminalization of Indigenous human rights defenders resisting the Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink pipelines in British Columbia. I urge the Government of Canada to end these violations and to adopt adequate measures to guarantee Indigenous Peoples’ right to consultation and free, prior and informed consent, and their rights to lands, territories and resources.”

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