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CALGARY — As if Enbridge Inc. could not hear the cries of protests over the Northern Gateway pipeline at its annual meeting in Calgary last year, what will hit the company in Toronto on Wednesday is expected to be even louder.
Public hearings into the $5.5-billion project to bring crude oil from Bruderheim, Alta. 1,172-kilometre west to the Pacific coast town of Kitimat, B.C. — and from there to energy-hungry markets in Asia — have since begun, serving as a focal point for criticism. Canada’s largest crude transporter has also opted to hold this year’s AGM in the country’s financial capital, where many groups opposing the pipeline command a strong presence and where the risk of a public relations backlash affecting the company’s share price is heightened.
As members of the Calgary-based Enbridge executive team make the trip to Toronto this week, a train carrying some of Northern Gateway’s most vocal critics is close behind. Hundreds of protestors are expected to rally outside the AGM, with a “Freedom Train” set to arrive Wednesday carrying dozens of members of the Yinka Dene Alliance, a group of British Columbia First Nations opposed to the project.
Motivated by concerns over Northern Gateway’s potential to damage the native territory through which it runs, or from the tanker fleet that will flood into Kitimat harbour once the pipeline is completed, First Nations have formed the core of resistance to the pipeline thus far.
This year, however, the Alliance argues the issue now extends far beyond the realm of indigenous people alone.
“It is going to be much larger [this year] not only for indigenous people but I think for the regular citizens of Canada and British Columbia,” Terry Teegee, vice-chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and member of the Alliance, said in an interview from Prince George, B.C.
In late March, more than 2,000 people took part in a Vancouver rally opposing Northern Gateway.
Mr. Teegee said the recent decision from Joe Oliver, federal Minister of Natural Resources, to shorten the environmental review process required for major energy infrastructure projects has galvanized more widespread support for the Alliance’s cause.
“For this protest I have been getting calls from different indigenous groups from Ontario… so a safe estimate I’d say there is going to be three to four hundred people, but I wouldn’t doubt it if there were twice that,” said Mr. Teegee, who will attend the protest in Toronto.
“This isn’t just an indigenous issue, this is a real attack on our democratic process. We see [the shortened review process] as a rubber stamping of the actual project.”
For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://business.financialpost.com/2012/05/07/enbridge-braces-for-more-pipeline-backlash-as-annual-meeting-nears/?__lsa=4abfde00