By: Ben Rayner Pop Music Critic, Published on Wed Oct 02 2013
Sarah Harmer, the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie and the Sadies are among musicians joining forces for a free concert in North York on Sunday, Oct. 6, to protest Enbridge’s controversial plans to pump tar-sands oil through Southern Ontario in its Line 9 pipeline.
“Rock the Line,” as the concert is dubbed, is the brainchild of Harmer and the Environmental Defence organization. Both are speaking out against the Line 9 proposal — which would see capacity greatly increased and the flow reversed on the 38-year-old pipeline to ship crude oil and bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to eastern markets — at National Energy Board hearings on the matter beginning Oct. 8.
Harmer, Downie backed by the ever-versatile Sadies, Hayden and the Minotaurs have signed on for the performance, which is set to begin at 2 p.m. in Mel Lastman Square, not far from Line 9’s Toronto pathway across the Rouge River and along the Finch corridor.
“The Line 9 proposal puts communities all across Southern Ontario at risk of a tar-sands oil spill,” Harmer said in a statement. “It also risks the dangerous release of carcinogenic chemicals into our air. The more I learn about the likelihood of pipeline ruptures with the Line 9 plan, the more convinced I am this plan needs to be rejected.”
Sunday’s protest concert is but the latest volley in what promises to be a long and contentious battle over Enbridge’s Line 9 proposal.
The possibility of spills along the pipeline — which runs from Sarnia to Montreal and, as Rabble.ca noted early this year, passes “within 50 km of an estimated 9.1 million people, including 18 First Nation communities, and directly through 99 towns and cities” — has already got groups like Environmental Defence demanding the province conduct a full environmental assessment of the project.
Recent amendments to the National Energy Board Act through the federal government’s omnibus Bill C-38 that have made it more difficult for the public to get involved in hearings on such matters, however, are also currently the subject of a lawsuit against the Harper government that contends the new rules are a violation of our Charter rights to free speech.
“Shouldn’t all Canadians have a voice in whether or under what conditions some of those barrels (of oil) will be flowing underground through southern Ontario?” lawyer Clayton Ruby, who is spearheading the lawsuit through ForestEthics Advocacy, asked in an August op-ed piece for the Star. “The Harper government says no.”