More than 700 people rallied behind the Yinka Dene Alliance for a peaceful march to Enbridge’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), where shareholders gathered at the windows, looking nervously out at the huge crowd. The air was filled with the powerful sound of the Yinka Dene Alliance drummers and chants of “We Can’t Eat Oil” and “No Pipelines, No Tankers, No Problem!”
A number of Freedom Train riders who had registered as proxy shareholders were denied entry to the meeting. Despite paper trails and timely registering, as well as a few folks traveling hundreds of kilometres on the train to speak inside, they were unable to have their say. Those who participated made it loud and clear that opposition is strong and resolute. Yinka Dene Alliance Chiefs asserted that First Nations opposed to the project aren’t going anywhere.
“The war is on.” Chief Martin Louie of Nadleh Whut’en declared after the meeting, where Enbridge refused to cancel Northern Gateway. “We’ve got Enbridge and the federal government after us. But I’m not scared…We’re not going to turn back.”
Enbridge never answered his question - How far is Enbridge willing to go? NEI’s shareholder resolution to do a report that would show the legal and financial costs associated with First Nations opposition to Northern Gateway did not pass. The company had encouraged people not to support the resolution. However, with nearly 30 per cent support, Enbridge committed to continuing dialogue with NEI about the issue.
After laying out how Enbridge will never receive social license to build this pipeline and tanker project, I asked about the political risks associated with the project. The BC New Democratic Party (BC NDP) recently submitted a long letter stating their opposition to Northern Gateway that they submitted to the Joint Review Panel (JRP) last week. They could form the next government before the JRP or ministerial decisions are made. The BC Liberal government has also not taken a position and Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel admitted that they were aware of the political risks, although refused to state whether or not they would proceed against the will of the province given Daniel’s inability to “fortune tell”. In addition, Enbridge agreed to supply us with the amount of funds they have expended to date on PR and lobbying for Northern Gateway.
In the end, the AGM provided another opportunity for First Nations to speak to the CEO, Board and shareholders without being considered “consultation” by the company. The legal risks are very real and Enbridge has not been clear about it to shareholders, deciding to hide behind the JRP.
It also provided an opportunity to get the company on the record with various statements and to try to get clarity on their plans as to how far they are willing to put their brand and company at risk for their tar sands pipeline and tankers to Asia.
If you have yet to do so, please sign the Yinka Dene Alliance petition.