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article imageGreenpeace activists scale Calgary Tower to protest oil sands

By Stephanie Dearing     Aug 3, 2010 in Environment
Calgary - Greenpeace Canada activists scaled the Calgary Tower Tuesday morning to hang a giant banner which was held in place by activists.
However, the activists were removed from the Calgary Tower fairly quickly, reported the Vancouver Sun; as was their banner which demanded "Separate oil and state." Greenpeace said the banner was put up on the Calgary Tower "... to highlight the need to sever the cozy relationship between the toxic tar sands oil industry and the federal and provincial governments."
The giant 8 x 15 metre banner was put up on the building in advance of a meeting between Canadian provincial Premiers, who are convening in Winnipeg on Wednesday. The purpose was to tell Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, and Canada's other 12 Premiers that Canadians are watching and are aware of what Greenpeace said was "... the all too cozy relationship that the oil industry enjoys and exploits through lax regulations that allow companies to self-monitor in the tar sands. This cozy relationship is underpinned by oil industry executives who work in or have worked in the Alberta government, including a senior oil industry executive who headed up the government's oil sands sustainable development secretariat and an executive from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers who is providing advice on regulatory enhancement."
Activists gained the tower, unfurling the banner at 10 am. Just before noon, the banner was gone and eight activists were arrested. Greenpeace made the most of the hour of exposure. Representative Melina Laboucan-Massimo said “While oil may run your car, it shouldn’t run your government. Canada is not a petro-state and Big Oil should not be calling the shots and governments should not be ignoring the environmental destruction of the toxic tar sands. Until both the federal and Alberta governments stand up to the oil industry, greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase, more animals will die, more residents will be poisoned by the air they breathe and the water they drink, and more treaty rights will be violated in favour of profits in the senseless quest to squeeze every last drop of dirty oil from this province.”
Greenpeace's Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator, Christy Ferguson said “The environmental destruction in the tar sands is frighteningly reminiscent of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, where the same multinational interests pay lip service to safety while cutting corners that cost lives and livelihoods. For the federal and Alberta governments to continue to allow the oil industry to dictate the rules is beyond irresponsible and cannot be tolerated in a democracy.”
Greenpeace is also using the action to bring attention to two comprehensive databases that lists over 6,500 oil industry accidents over a 13 year period in Canada. One data base lists incidents in Alberta that the government failed to regulate, while the other data base consists of reportable incidents submitted to the government of Canada. The person who compiled the databases, Dr. Kevin Timoney said "The databases serve as an example of the government’s failure to uphold the public trust. If the databases prove useful, they may in some small way contribute to replacing a culture of impunity with one of responsibility. When Albertans decide they will no longer tolerate bad government, things will get better. Until then, corporations may continue to pollute at will, sure in the knowledge that they operate outside meaningful controls and are immune from prosecution.” Greenpeace released the databases on July 30.
The action was a part of Greenpeace's ongoing campaign against Canada's oil sands. The organization has opposed the oil sands for years. Last week, Greenpeace activists briefly occupied the Vancouver Enbridge office to draw attention to the impact of oil spills.
At the annual summer meeting of the Council of the Federation, Canada's 13 Provincial and Territorial Premiers will meet to discuss economic and trade issues. The Premiers are meeting first on August 4 with First Nation leaders in Churchill, Manitoba prior to convening in Winnipeg. They will "discuss ways to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people," said a press release.
Opened in 1968 in downtown Calgary, the Calgary Tower was built, in part, with oil revenues. Husky Oil teamed up with Marathon Realty to build the Tower, which is a distinctive feature on the Calgary skyline. The Tower is 626 feet tall.
More about Greenpeace canada, Calgary tower, Climate change, Tar sands, Oil sands
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