Arrested Development: How a new breed of activist is damaging economic growth, one project at a time – by Claudia Cattaneo, Geoffrey Morgan and Jesse Snyder (Financial Post – December 9, 2016)

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had barely finished delivering his statement approving the Trans Mountain and Line 3 pipelines, and rejecting Northern Gateway on Nov. 29 when anti-pipeline activists erupted on Twitter.

“@justintrudeau just approved the #Kindermorgan pipeline. Vancouver: Join us at the CBC building at 5 pm,” Stand.earth tweeted, along with a photo with protesters and the headline: IT’S TIME TO ESCALATE AGAINST KINDER MORGAN.

Greenpeace Canada took direct aim at Trudeau: “BREAKING: @JustinTrudeau approves #KinderMorgan and #Line3 pipelines, rejects #NorthernGateway,” illustrating it with indigenous protesters and the warning: “If Prime Minister Trudeau wanted to bring Standing Rock to Canada he succeeded.”

In its tweet, Oil Change International had a photo of Trudeau at the Calgary Petroleum Club with the headline: NOTE TO JUSTIN TRUDEAU: “CLIMATE LEADERS” DON’T. BUILD. PIPELINES, and the comment: “If approving massive new oil pipelines fits in Canada’s #climate plan, then Canada’s #climate plan is freaking awful.”

Anti-pipeline activists from these and other groups had devoted years of campaigning to stop all three projects through regulatory, political and legal means, before adopting a more “in your face” approach, in the vein of the ongoing uprising against the now stalled Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States, and in the tradition of the famous War in the Woods two decades ago against logging on Vancouver Island’s Clayoquot Sound.

Resistance to infrastructure projects has become the norm in Canada’s resource sectors. As part of a four-month investigation, the Financial Post identified 35 projects worth $129 billion in direct investment — mostly private money — that are struggling to move forward or have been sidelined altogether because of opposition from environmental, aboriginal and/or community groups.

The downside is adding up: slower growth, lower Canadian oil prices, investment chill, less control over domestic resources, over-reliance on the U.S. market, regulatory gridlock.

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