(HAMILTON, ON) On Wednesday August 14th the thirteen individuals arrested and charged under the Trespass to Property Act during a blockade of a local oil pumping station will have their first court appearance. On the morning of June 26th, 2013 eighteen people were arrested for participating in a six day occupation of Enbridge’s North Westover Pumping Station. Thirteen of those individuals were charged with trespass, four with mischief to property and one with break and enter in a direct action dubbed ‘Swamp Line 9’.
The protesters have defended their actions and remain committed to fighting the expansion of Line 9, which is why a demonstration has been called for Wednesday prior to their scheduled court appearances.
“It’s absurd that we are being criminalized for trying to protect the land and water while Enbridge is free to destroy and pollute it” David Prychitka states. “Their crimes are killing people and our government continues to let them do so unabated.”
Public records show that in just the past few years Enbridge has been fined $7.2 million for nearly 700 separate instances of environmental infractions. Just last month Enbridge was found to have been operating in Hamilton without the proper permits for nearly forty years – a lapse that was allowed to occur, some say, due to a lack of oversight and reliance on industry to regulate themselves.
“There are absolutely no effective structures in place to keep Enbridge from doing whatever they want – so they do. They don’t care about us, the land or the water except as it relates to profit.” Says Wolf Chrapko, one of the individuals facing charges.
Last year under Bill C-38, a controversial piece of omnibus legislation, the Harper government quietly granted themselves the power to override the decisions of the National Energy Board when it comes to pipeline or energy projects. The NEB was the only independent board which the public could take their concerns to and be able to influence a project.
“What that leaves us,” Keisha Quinn points out, “is civil disobedience – something that was at the core of many historical movements including civil rights and women’s rights. What we’re fighting for now is the rights of the earth and water – we’re fighting for our own future.”
The Harper government has also recently made large changes to limit the protections of waterways, lakes and oceans and has pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol – an agreement that would ensure Canada reduce its carbon emissions.
“When you start coupling those factors with Enbridge’s long history of lying and manipulation it’s hard not to be concerned. They’ve lied about the sizes of their spills, about their relationships with indigenous communities and even about their initial intention for line 9.” Chrapko points out.
In the fall of 2012, during closed-door lobbying with some city councillors, Enbridge spokesperson Ken Hall denied that Enbridge had any intentions to use Line 9 to ship diluted bitumen. Just six days later Enbridge’s application to ship heavy crude products, including dilbit, became public.
All of this, they insist, make Enbridge a difficult company to trust – and a dangerous one Prychitka insists. “Some of these infractions lead to spills and breaches of pipelines and tailings ponds. Those breaches kill animals – they kill and harm people. Their lies compound those dangers and risks.”
The thirteen individuals charged with trespass will be in court at 1:30 pm on Wednesday but will participate in the demonstration beforehand. The demonstration and march will begin with a gathering at 11:00 am at the MacNab bus terminal in Hamilton and make its way to the courthouse where some of those involved in Swamp Line 9 will share a statement.
Swamp Line 9: http://swampline9.tumblr.com/
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