If you want to see what the future has in store for Justin Trudeau’s pipeline dreams, just head to North Dakota. On a frigid stretch of prairie, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is waging an epic battle to stop an oil pipeline near its traditional lands.
The protest has attracted a swelling tent city of indigenous people and environmental activists. Military veterans have vowed to act as human shields. The horses and the banners snapping in the breeze evoke another day and age – the Battle of the Little Big Horn comes to mind.
On Sunday, the Sioux won a major victory when the Department of the Army said it would reroute part of the pipeline. The war is far from over. But for now, the activists are celebrating as if they’ve slain Keystone XL all over again.
Trans Mountain’s operators cheerily say they’ll have shovels in the ground by next September. Good luck with that. The future will probably be more like North Dakota – a bitter, drawn-out battle fought in the courts and on the ground – only this time in the streets of Burnaby and Vancouver.
This time, it probably won’t be First Nations who pose the biggest obstacle. B.C.’s 200 or so native groups are hopelessly divided, and many on the Trans Mountain route have already struck deals. The toughest opposition will come from the settler population of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, who are perhaps the most eco-conscious folks on the planet.
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