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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government was buying Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 million on Tuesday, and the response from environmentalists and Indigenous groups was immediate.

Trudeau once promised veto power to Indigenous peoples in deciding on the pipeline’s expansion, but it seems that this no longer applies, as many Indigenous peoples have explicitly condemned it over the last year.

It’s not just Indigenous groups who have criticized the project with ferocity. Environmentalists, many of whom have been protesting alongside Indigenous activists, are disappointed by the government’s decision to buy and move forward with the pipeline despite its obvious environmental concerns.

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Environmentalists argue that the purchase of this pipeline will further threaten Canada’s water and wildlife.

“As if on cue, the pipeline suffered a 100-litre leak — its 83rd since 1961 — just this week. The science is clear on this: Canada cannot expand on or build new pipelines if it expects to keep global warming and the accompanying climate change at bay,” wrote Pam Palmateer, a Mi’kmaw citizen, member of Eel River Bar First Nation, and lawyer who currently holds the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University, in a response earlier this week.

The reaction online was swift, and there is no doubt we will continue to see protests for months to come.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

“We are absolutely shocked and appalled that Canada is willingly investing taxpayers’ money in such a highly controversial fossil fuel expansion project,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), said in a statement. “No means no — the project does not have the consent it requires, and we will not stand down no matter who buys this ill-fated and exorbitantly priced pipeline.”


“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has just signed up to captain the Titanic of tar sands oil pipelines, putting it on a collision course with its commitments to Indigenous rights and the Paris climate agreement,” Greenpeace’s statement reads. “Trudeau is gambling billions of Canadian taxpayer dollars on an oil project that will never be built — a project that Kinder Morgan itself has indicated is ‘untenable’ and that faces more than a dozen lawsuits, crumbling economics, and a growing resistance movement that is spreading around the world.”

Elizabeth May

“It seems completely insane,” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said on Parliament Hill. “I’m quite certain that this will go down as an epic financial, economic boondoggle.”

Only time will tell how this decision will play out in the end, as staunch activists plan to continue protesting against the pipeline (May was even arrested earlier this year) on both sides of the border.

More than 800 businesses have also signed a petition calling on BC Premier John Horgan to continue resisting Trudeau’s decision to purchase the pipeline.

Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including issues affecting the environment and Indigenous Peoples. You can take action here.


Defend the Planet

Environmentalists and Indigenous Peoples React to Trudeau's Pipeline Purchase

By Jackie Marchildon