As Canada's controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project faces ongoing opposition, the former governor of the Bank of Canada said that protesters may die but that the government should push the project through anyway.
Speaking at an event Wednesday, David Dodge said, "We're going to have some very unpleasant circumstances," the Edmonton Journal reported. "There are some people that are going to die in protesting construction of this pipeline. We have to understand that."
"Nevertheless, we have to be willing to enforce the law once it's there," Dodge said. "It's going to take some fortitude to stand up."
In an interview with the Journal, he elaborated by saying, "We have seen it other places, that equivalent of religious zeal leading to flouting of the law in a way that could lead to death."
Dodge's comments prompted outrage from climate activists.
Author and 350-org co-founder Bill McKibben warned, "North American governments have shown the 'fortitude' necessary to kill indigenous people often enough that this is no idle threat," while Canandian author Naomi Klein called the threat a "disgrace." She added, "If the worst happens, we now know they went into this with their eyes wide open."
North American governments have shown the "fortitude" necessary to kill indigenous people often enough that this is no idle threat. https://t.co/PhtB24Bu55
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) June 15, 2018
Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Mike Hudema, meanwhile, wondered if Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau would weigh in on Dodge's remarks.
Is Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau going to condemn these comments from former Bank of Canada governor basically saying - 'We need this pipeline. If people need to die because of it. Well so be it that's the cost of doing business.'https://t.co/NYBIlO1GhJ #cdnpoli #bcpoli pic.twitter.com/D4e9zPQEl1
— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) June 14, 2018
Trudeau was the target of sharp criticism from environmental advocacy groups after announcing last month that the government would purchase the pipeline and expansion system, which will roughly triple the system's capacity. That $4.5 billion buyout, commented the B.C.-based Dogwood Initiative, makes every taxpayer "partial owner of a leaky 65-year-old pipeline—and the proponent of a still uncosted oil tanker expansion project."
Dodge, for his part, has been described as "not inclined to hold his tongue."
His comments about the pipeline protesters come days after he accused climate activists of making it harder to enact policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and said Canada should "sell our hydrocarbons, which we produce, to foreigners at the highest possible market price....including the sale of bitumen from the oilsands, while demand for oil is robust and still growing."