Oil sands protesters converge on Chinese consulate during Harper's trip to Asia

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 (All day)
Vancouver Observer

A group of over 50 protesters gathered outside the Chinese consulate on Granville Street this afternoon, voicing their concerns over foreign investment in Canadian oilsands projects -- a key topic during Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit to China this week. Harper is currently traveling in China with Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel. 

The demonstration was organized by environmental advocates at the Wilderness Committee but was also attended by protesters from other local groups, including environmental justice committee members from Occupy Vancouver.

China, Harper and oilsands

"If we're ever going to get serious about sustainability, we have to talk seriously about our relationship with China," said Wilderness Committee campaigner Ben West.

"It's really the elephant in the room in a lot of ways -- it's the biggest country in the world, it's the fastest growing country in the world, and there's a tremendous demand for our oil." 

"When the government of China is meeting with the government of Canada, and our representative Stephen Harper is there right now on our behalf, he brought with him not a delegation representing the people of Canada...what he's brought with him is a lot of representatives from the oil industry," he said.

"We're here because we want to make sure that the people of China, the government of China and the people of the world know that Stephen Harper isn't there talking on our behalf right now."

Enbridge Northern Gateway

First Nations representatives at the demonstration addressed the threats posed by oil projects like the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, before leading the group in traditional songs.

Facilitating oil and energy exports is one of the key topics being addressed by Harper and his delegation in China, and the Northern Gateway project is currently considered top priority in terms of opening up trade routes to Asia.