Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace


Posted by strattof on October 19, 2017

Earlier this month, TransCanada Corp. announced the cancellation of the $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline project. The pipeline would have carried 1.1 million barrels a day of Alberta and Saskatchewan crude, mostly high-carbon tar sands oil, to New Brunswick, where it would have been loaded on tankers for export.

The cancellation of Energy East has prompted strong reaction.

ANGER: From the perspective of Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, it is a complete disaster. Laying the blame squarely on the Trudeau government and its new environmental regulations, Wall has even suggested the project’s failure could undermine Canadian unity: “Today is not a good day for Canada. It is not a good day for the federation…. For the West to continue on like this in our federal system is the equivalent of having Stockholm syndrome.”

JUBILATION: Meanwhile, many Indigenous people and organizations, along with non-Indigenous environmentalists, are celebrating the demise of Energy East as a victory in the struggle against catastrophic climate change and for the protection of the planet from further environmental destruction.



Why did TransCanada cancel Energy East? “Changed circumstances” is the answer TransCanada is giving. Brad Wall is more explicit. In his view, it is new Trudeau government regulatory hurdles. The Trudeau government, on the other hand, says it was “a business decision.”

The truth appears to include all of the above, plus a few additional reasons. Here are the six most likely reasons, listed in order of importance, for the demise of the Energy East pipeline project.

  1. COLLAPSE OF OIL PRICES: When TransCanada first announced Energy East in 2013, the price of oil was nearly $100 a barrel. Today it is about $50 a barrel.
  2. OTHER PIPELINES: US President Donald Trump is likely to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, another TransCanada project, as he has already granted it a presidential permit. In 2016, the Trudeau government approved the Kinder Morgan and Enbridge Line 3 pipelines. Together, these pipelines will provide sufficient capacity to meet demand.
  3. NATURAL GAS: To save money on Energy East, Trans-Canada planned to convert 3,000 km of an existing natural gas pipeline. Now there is a boom in natural gas production, which is cheaper to produce and transport than tar sands oil.
  4. REGULATORY CHANGES: In 2016, the Trudeau government revised the National Energy Board’s review process to include upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions in its assessment.
  5. THE END OF OIL: To be cost effective, pipeline infra-structure has to be in use for at least 30 years. Oil industry executives likely know there is no future for new pipelines in a world where the need to transition away from the use of fossil fuels has become so obviously apparent.
  6. PIPELINE PROTESTS: Protests occurred regularly along the proposed route of the Energy East Pipeline, some of them in Regina. The combined efforts of the protesters pushed the project’s start date back by several years—long enough for the price of oil to plummet and regulatory changes to be imposed. From this perspective, activism is a, if not the key factor in the cancellation of Energy East.


In 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen issued his first warning about global warming: If we did not make significant reductions in CO2 emissions, we would face the worst effects of climate change.  Over the past year, those worst effects have been much in evidence:

  • Deadly heatwaves
  • Devastating droughts
  • Raging wildfires
  • Record floods
  • Rising sea levels

All of these disasters have a direct connection to global warming. We need to treat them as a wake-up call about the need to take action.


The pipeline struggle isn’t over yet. While Energy East has been defeated, there are still four more tar sands pipelines to go: Kinder Morgan, from Edmonton AB to Burnaby BC; Keystone XL, from Hardisty AB to Texas; Line 3, from Hardisty AB to Wisconsin; Line 10 expansion, from Hamilton ON to Buffalo NY.

None of these pipelines faces any regulatory hurdles in Canada, so it’s up to us to stop them. The matter is urgent. Line 3, which runs through Saskatchewan, passing just south of Regina, is at this very moment in the process of being constructed.

If any of these pipelines goes ahead, the result will be the expan-sion of tar sands development. Tar sands development is the single biggest contributor to the growth of CO2 emissions in Canada.


It isn’t going to happen tomorrow—or even next year. But, unless we are crazy enough to think we can afford an increase in global temperature of 4°C, it will have to happen soon. Now is the time to start getting off fossil fuels and making the transition to renewable sources of energy.

In the meantime, the Trudeau government is still subsidizing the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $34 billion annually, and Brad Wall continues to be a vocal champion of the fossil fuel industry.



  • Tell Prime Minister Trudeau you want his government to review all pipeline projects and to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry: or 613-922-4211.
  • Tell Premier Wall we need to start planning for a post-oil economy. The status quo is not sustainable: or 306-787-9433.
  • Ask the two NDP leadership candidates, Ryan Meili and Trent Wotherspoon, where they stand on pipelines: or 306-787-7388 or 306-565-2444


  • Watch Crude Power: An Investigation into Oil, Money, and Influence in Saskatchewan, by University of Regina School of Journalism students:
  • Read Climate Politics in the Patch: Engaging Saskatchewan’s Oil-Producing Communities on Climate Change Issues, by Emily Eaton, CCPA Saskatchewan.
  • Listen to No No No Keshagesh (which means “greedy guts”), by Buffy Sainte-Marie. Buffy tells us what we should say to oil and pipeline companies and the governments that kowtow to them:

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