May urges people not to abandon LNG fight

About 100 gather for Squamish rally in front of Woodfibre/FortisBC office

The fight against liquefied natural gas facilities like the proposed Woodfibre plant near Squamish will need more people in the streets to make their voices heard, says Elizabeth May.

The federal Green Party leader was one of the featured speakers at the Break Free from Fossil Fuels rally Saturday morning in front of the Woodfibre/FortisBC office.

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“We need more people in the streets,” she told a crowd of about 100 people at the rally. “We need more citizen activism.”

May touched on topics ranging from problems associated with LNG water-cooling systems to the politics behind LNG support and how Canadian politicians are behind the times when it comes to LNG.

May said she thinks that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to do the right thing, but that people need to keep up pressure on his government to abandon LNG as an option.

“Do not abandon the political process,” she said. “Do not become too cynical too fast.”

She also spurred on the crowd with a message to Woodfibre LNG that brought cheers from supporters.

“You will never build a plant on Howe Sound,” she said. “Never.”

Following May, Shannon McPhail of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition spoke about her own community of Hazelton and what she sees as threats to salmon stocks in the Skeena estuary from a proposed LNG plant.

McPhail, a welder, said that like many, she originally supported the concept of LNG but changed her mind when she failed to see jobs materializing and learned about the environmental effects associated with fracking and LNG.

She also criticized Premier Christy Clark for her efforts to get behind LNG projects.

“She’s bought and paid for, and it certainly isn’t by the residents of B.C.,” McPhail said.

The rally, organized locally by My Sea to Sky, followed a short march along Cleveland Avenue from O’Siyam Pavilion, with people carrying signs with messages including “There is no Planet B,” “Save Howe Sound” and “Keep it in the ground.”

Prior to the march, several speakers addressed the issue, including guests Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and his wife Joan Phillip from Penticton.

Joan Phillip spoke first, touching on how government is not getting behind alternative energy sources and how humans always seem to wait until they bring themselves to the brink of disaster to respond.

“We don’t need fossil fuels, but they’ve convinced us that we do,” she said.

Her husband referred to the situation threatening the Skeena and described the environment in terms of an “epic battle” and how we had reached the tipping point.

“This is the battle of our time. This is the battle of this generation,” he said.

The rally began with a prayer song by First Nations women Charlene Williams and Ashleigh Giffen – a woman’s warrior song, as Williams explained.

Each also spoke briefly about why they had come out to the rally to lend their support. For Williams, it was about protecting the earth and recognizing humans’ relationships to all of nature, including the sun, water, earth and other living creatures.

As a young person, Giffen spoke about her fears for the future of the planet and the need for people to unite to bring about change.

“We don’t have another earth, and I think it is time we save this one,” she said.

The Squamish march preceded a protest in Burnaby at the Kinder Morgan facility as part of a global effort organized by Greenpeace and 350.org.

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