Energy union president arrested at oilsands pipeline protest

Project is in country’s 'collective national interest': minister

About 100 union members and other protesters were arrested on Canada’s Parliament Hill after attempting to enter the House of Commons, according to the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP). The crowd gathered at the nation’s capital to demonstrate against the proposed Keystone XL oilsands pipeline project.

Among those arrested was CEP president Dave Coles, who says the project is going to cost the Canadian economy an estimated 40,500 potential direct and indirect jobs.

"It was an act of conscience because of the pivotal importance of Keystone XL to the Canadian economy and to the environment," says Coles. "Canadian jobs in upgrading and refining will literally go down the pipe to the U.S. with the 900,000 barrels of unrefined bitumen. Meanwhile, Canadian refineries are closing."

The demonstration was reflective of protests in Washington, D.C. in August 2011 where more than 500 people were arrested.

The Keystone XL pipeline is a $7-billion project that would bring crude oil from the tar sands in northern Alberta 2,700 kilometres across the border and to refineries in Texas.

Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said that the TransCanada Corp. pipeline project is in the country’s “collective national interest.” Oliver made the comment as the protest was taking place in Ottawa.

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