Really?

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Would you host an event for a major tobacco company on the eve of World Lung Cancer Day?

So why is the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce hosting an event for a major oil company on the eve of Earth Day? At a time when we’re finally making progress on climate change, and on a day dedicated to promoting environmental protection, is this really the kind of message our local business association should be sending? 

We think this event is a big mistake, and we’re appealing to the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce to cancel it. Your voice is important. You can let the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce know how you feel by clicking here to send an email.

On April 21st, the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce plans to host a speech by TransCanada’s Ontario Director, Stefan Baranski, who will be promoting the proposed Energy East pipeline project. Energy East would transport over a million barrels a day of tar sands oil from Alberta to New Brunswick for export. Along the way, it would pose a significant environmental risk to land and water, including many areas inside the City of Ottawa. It would also undermine Canada’s ability to meet its climate commitments by facilitating the exploitation and export of greenhouse gas-intensive tar sands oil. For more on the proposed Energy East pipeline, click here.

The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce is sending exactly the wrong signals at exactly the wrong time. For the first time in a very long time, all levels of decision-making in Ottawa seem to be moving in the right direction. Consider the following:


  • The City of Ottawa is preparing a new Renewable Energy Strategy in partnership with local businesses.


  • The Province of Ontario is launching a cap and trade program and gearing up for major investments in the clean energy economy.


  • The federal government is preparing a national climate change strategy in line with their strong commitment at the Paris climate talks.


  • And the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce is holding an oil and pipeline event on the eve of Earth Day.

It just doesn’t make sense. The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce is either tone deaf to the very real concerns people have about the proposed Energy East pipeline, or they’re being purposefully provocative. 

Either way, the solution is the same. If enough of us write to the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, there is a good chance they will cancel this untimely and ill-conceived event or at least think twice about organizing another one in the future. We have already asked them to pull the plug. You can find our letter here.

Please send in your thoughts to the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce by clicking here or by writing President Ian Faris (ian.faris@ottawachamber.ca) and CCing their general account (info@ottawachamber.ca) directly. 

If they don’t cancel this event, we will be coming out in numbers to protest their decision, hosting our own breakfast protest outside their venue, along with the Council of Canadians, 350 Ottawa, FossilFree UOttawa and other organization of Ottawa. You can join us too by signing up here and sharing our Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/227904360902788/

There are lots of ways to describe the ultimate goal when it comes to fighting climate change, but they all mean the same thing in practice. Some people say we need to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees, others say we should reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million. Still others argue that we should set a goal of “100 percent renewable energy” or reduce emissions in Canada to “net-zero”. But all of these things ultimately mean that we are entering a period of history where we need to focus on phasing out oil, coal and gas, and replacing them with conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy. There is simply no getting around the scientific requirements when it comes to climate change.

Our business leaders should be focusing on creating jobs that we can all be proud of and industries that will lead Canada into the 21st century. This is no time to be investing tens of billions of dollars in expanding pipeline infrastructure. In fact, the argument that new pipelines would solve Alberta’s current economic woes is blatantly false. Pressure for new pipelines to reach tidewater is a veiled attempt to use the current economic downturn – which is unrelated to pipeline capacity – as a way to accelerate infrastructure needed only for future expansion of tar sands production. Unfettered long-term expansion in the tar sands is not only incompatible with Canada’s climate goals, but it would only serve to deepen Alberta’s economic dependence on oil at a time when the consequences of such a dependence have become painfully clear. For more on this economic analysis, click here

Thank you for sending your thoughts to the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce letting them know how you feel about the upcoming event (click here). and engaging on this critical issue at this critical time. And thank you for joining us on April 21st to show them in person that their decision is shortsighted and insensitive, should they go ahead with it (click here).

And thank you for all the work you do in making Ottawa and the planet a better, greener place. 

Graham, Alex, Jeremy, Charles, Velta, Tamsin, Robb and the entire Ecology Ottawa team 

Categories: Action Alert, TarFree613

Author:Alex Tétreault

Clean Energy Organizer for Ecology Ottawa. Eternal student. Socio-anthropology of migration and tech in development. Environment. Occasional photographer.

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