Ontario's Chance. Ontario's Choice

There is a new tar sands pipeline in town and it goes right through Ontario and Quebec.

UXBRIDGE (ONT), CANADA - Last Saturday (Jan. 26th) I did something I have never done before. I participated in my very first tar sands action in Canada. I have been involved in tar sands events in Europe and Australia, but never in my home country of Canada. Toronto City Hall was the location for the event and oddly enough it was part of an international day of action, but it was not International Stop the Tar Sands Day. Over twenty communities in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, and Quebec and the New England states in the US came together on the weekend to say no to the Line 9 pipeline. This is going to be the next big step in shutting down the Canadian tar sands industry. 


Unlike the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline in British Colombia and the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline in the US, the Line 9 pipeline already exists. For over thirty years Line 9 has pumped conventional oil from Montreal through southern Quebec and southern Ontario to oil refineries in Sarnia, Ontario. Enbridge (operator of Line 9 and the company behind the Northern Gateway project) wants to reverse the flow of Line 9 (i.e.. flow from Sarnia to Montreal) so tar sands crude can be sent to Montreal. From Montreal, it looks like the plans are to pipe tar sands crude through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to be exported by tanker from Portland, Maine. Plans for the Montreal-Portland pipeline are conditional on the Line 9 reversal being approved. And that's why Americans are not a big fan of Line 9 either.


Ontario (as well as Quebec) both have a chance and a choice in regards to Line 9. Ontarians could choose to throw their arms up in the air and say "what you gonna do?" The pipeline already exists so there is no way to stop its construction.  The vast majority of tar sands crude in Line 9 will be exported so Ontarians can take some comfort in the fact that they will not be filling up their cars with "dirty oil" from the tar sands.


There are risks for both Ontario and Quebec in this project. The pipeline could burst. Line 9 was an old pipeline that is designed to carry conventional oil not tar sands crude. Due to the sludge-like tar sands crude inability to flow through pipelines the same way conventional oil can, chemicals (diluents) are added to make it move. These diluents tend to be on the corrosive side. In 2010, one of Enbridge's pipeline carrying tar sands crude burst in Michigan contaminating the Kalamazoo River and surrounding waterways. The clean up is still going on and it may go down in history as the longest and most costly pipeline cleanup in American history. I know I have been out of Canada for awhile, but the last time I checked there are A LOT of waterways in southern Ontario and southern Quebec.


Let's put the oil spill/pipeline burst argument aside for a moment. I think there is a more fundamental question at the heart of this choice Ontario faces; do we really want to become a part of the tar sands industry? By allowing tar sands crude to be shipped through Line 9, Ontario will be helping the tar sands industry expand. An increase in tar sands development means more destruction of the land, more toxins in the waterways, more carbon dioxide expelled in the atmosphere and more disrespect for First Nations culture and way of life in northern Alberta. Do we really want to be an accomplice to this? 


With Line 9 Ontario has a chance to join the ranks of those amazing British Colombians who are successfully stopping both the Northern Gateway and TransMountain tar sands pipeline projects. This is our chance to show the world we can do the impossible like the Americans did when they stopped the Keystone XL pipeline the first time. This is our chance to help Alberta and those Albertans who want to see Alberta transition from a "petro-province" to something better, something more sustainable, something as friendly and hospitable as the Albertans themselves. This is our chance to do our bit for the international movement trying to stop the tar sands.


Come on Ontario! Come on Quebec! I know you can do it!



(Photo: "Planting the Pipeline" - Jan. 26th, 2013 No Line 9 Rally at Toronto City Hall. Courtesy of Environmental Defence) 



How do you stop Line 9 though? 


1) SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT LINE 9. Talk to your family, friends, neighbors and community about what Line 9 could mean for Ontario. Raising awareness is probably the most important thing to do done right now.  And if you do it in a fun, positive, creative way I guarantee people will at least listen. Here is some easy to read info and a great little video on Line 9 to help you out. The Line 9 facebook group is also a good source for news and updates on the pipeline.


2) SIGN THE PETITION - We need to determine and show people what the impacts of Line 9 will be and could be on land, water and residents of Ontario. The provincial government can do an environmental assessment to find these things out. Click here to sign the petition calling on the Ontario government to do an environmental assessment and flush out the truth about the Line 9 reversal. 


3) FIND OUT  IF LINE 9 GOES THROUGH YOUR COMMUNITY. Below is a full list of communities who are either sitting on top of Line 9 or would be negatively effected if Line 9 bursts. Finding out if Line 9 goes through your community is tricky but not impossible. I personally plan on contacting the Works Department of my municipality for its location and then I plan to "walk the line"  just like we did in Toronto last Saturday so I can see where Line 9 is buried and more importantly, so I can see with my own eyes what is at stake for my community (forests, creeks, farm land, etc.). Might even make a nice little winter community event out of it too! 


4) DON'T BE AFRAID TO REACH OUT TO OTHERS. Communities across Ontario, Quebec and New England are slowly coming together and discussing what they are going to do about Line 9. Don't be afraid to say hi to them, and ask for advice or how you can help. We are all in this together. Off the top of my head I know that there are groups in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Kingston, Hamilton-Burlington, Guelph and Montreal all working on the Line 9 problem. Google them! You would be surprised how fruitful following the #NoLine9 hastag on twitter can be for finding people and groups doing what they can to stop Line 9





First Nations are listed first, then towns and cities in Quebec, followed by cities, counties, municipalities, towns and townships in Ontario. Each category is in alphabetical order. 






- Aamjiwnaang First Nation 

- Walpole Island First Nation

- Alderville First Nation

- Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point

- Chippewas of the Thames First Nation

- Hiawatha First Nation

- Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation

- Mohawks of Akwesasne

- Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

- Munsee-Delaware First Nation

- Oneida Nation of the Thames

- Six Nations of the Grand River

- Kahnawake First Nation

- Kanesetake First Nation





- Village of Point Edward

- Ville de Laval

- Ville de Mirabel

- Ville de Montreal

- Ville de Montreal-Est

- Ville de Rigaud

- Ville de Terrebonne

- Ville de Point-Fortune

- Ville de Saint Clet

- Ville de Saint Janvier-de-Joly

- Ville de Saint-Andre-D’Argenteuil

- Ville de Sainte Anne-des-Plaines

- Ville de Sainte-Justine-deNewton

- Municipalité de Très-SaintRédempteur




- City of Belleville

- City of Brockville

- City of Burlington

- City of Cambridge

- City of Cornwall

- City of Etobicoke

- City of Hamilton

- City of Kingston

- City of London

- City of Oshawa

- City of Pickering

- City of Quinte West

- City of Sarnia

- City of Scarborough 

- City of Toronto

- City of Mississauga




- County of Leeds & Grenville

- Front of Yonge

- Lambton County

- Lennox & Addington County

- Loyalist Township

- Middlesex County

- County of Frontenac

- County of Halton

- County of Lennox & Addington

- County of Northumberland

- County of Ontario

- County of Oxford

- Loyalist Township




- Municipality of Brighton

- Municipality of Lambton Shores

- Municipality of North Middlesex

- Municipality of Port Hope

- Municipality of Tweed

- Municipality of Centre Hastings

- Municipality of Clarington

- Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc

- Municipality of Thames Centre

- Regional Municipality of Durham

- Regional Municipality of Halton




- Town of Alexandria 

- Town of Ajax

- Town of Bowmanville

- Town of Deseronto

- Town of Greater Napanee

- Town of Milton

- Town of Oakville

- Town of Plympton-Wyoming

- Town of Shelburne

- Town of Whitby




–Township of Leeds & Thousand Islands- Augusta Township 

- Township of Adelaide Metcalfe

- Township of Alnwick-Haldimand

- Township of Clarke

- Township of Cornwall

- Township of Cramahe

- Township of Darlington

- Township of Dawn Euphemia

- Township of East Hawkesbury

- Township of East Whitby

- Township of East Zorra-Tavistock

- Township of Edwardsburg/Cardinal

- Township of Elizabethtown

- Township of Ernestown

- Township of Lancaster

- Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands

- Township of Lansdowne

- Township of Matilda

- Township of Murray

- Township of North Dumfries

- Township of North Glengarry

- Township of North York

- Township of Osnabruck 

- Township of Pittsburgh

- Township of Richmond

- Township of Sidney – City of Quinte West

- Township of South Dundas

- Township of South Glengarry

- Township of South Stormont

- Township of St. Clair

- Township of Thurlow

- Township of Tyendinaga 

- Township of Warwick

- Township of Whitby

- Township of Williamsburg


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