As more than 1,000 protestors drummed and chanted “No Line 9, No Line 9,” outside of the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto in mid-October, members of the National Energy Board (NEB) fled the building and the hearings were indefinitely postponed.
The NEB is made up largely of people who are pro-oil and their hearings have become increasingly inaccessible to those most affected. The fact that the protestors were not allowed to attend the hearing, and instead of listening to the people, the National Energy Board shut down hearings, truly shows how anti-democratic this process is.
Line 9 would run through the GTA, as well as by Kingston and Montréal and has a high likelihood of bursting—some experts say 90%. Instead of carrying conventional oil north, it would send thick, sludgy bitumen from the tar sands in the opposite direction—which can only be done at very high pressures and with the addition of more toxic chemicals. A oil spill of this heavy bitumen is much more difficult to clean than even conventional oil, and would threaten key watersheds including the Rideau canal system, the Don and Humber rivers draining into Lake Ontario, as well as the St. Lawrence river.
Line 9 is a key part of the Canadian government’s plan to triple the Oil Sands production by 2020. Tar Sands company Enbridge wants to increase the capacity of Line 9 and reverse its flow so that it can supply more of the U.S.’s oil needs. Last week, the University of California Irvine found that the levels of certain pollutants found in communities downwind of the oil sands were “6,000 times higher than normal,” according to a press release.
The study also reported that men living near the oil sands had higher rates of leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, compared to similar Canadian communities. Many of these communities are indigenous, making Tar Sands a prime example of “environmental racism,” whereby the capitalist class destroys the environment of the most marginalized peoples.
The high level of government collusion with oil companies has been well displayed in the past year. We have seen this in the Communications Security Establishment of Canada spying on Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy behalf of Canada’s big oil and dirty mining companies. We also see how the government has changed the consultation process for major oil infrastructure to further muffle dissenters.
All of Canada’s three major parliamentary parties—including the NDP—have pandered to Canadian oil and gas companies. Earlier this year, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said the NDP would be “a partner for the development of Canada’s energy resources.”
It is clear that Canada’s current oil and mining-funded system of “democracy” will not listen to the people. Our pro-capitalist politicians will continue to push for the expansion of disastrous tar sands, even as people choke on fumes, battle deadly cancers and worry about the future of the planet.
It is clear that the only way to fight tar sands expansion in Alberta and water supply-threatening spills in Ontario and Québec is through mass action against the current system. We salute the indigenous, environmental and anti-capitalist protestors that stood up against the corrupt National Energy Board System. We continue the fight for a just, communist and truly democratic system that serves the energy needs of people without polluting our water or destroying the only environment we have.