Nearly 400 hit the water for Paddle for the Peace

Paddlers arrive at Bear Flats during the 11th Annual Paddle for the Peace. Photo by Chris Newton

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Nearly 400 canoeists, kayakers, and other navigators headed to the Halfway River on Saturday to take part in the 11th Annual Paddle for the Peace.

Organisers say that 264 individual boats with 376 paddlers registered for the event, which saw a large number of esteemed guests, including President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson, and Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May.

This was the first appearance for Ms. May at the event, as the paddle has always coincided with the final weekend of the Calgary Stampede, which May attends due to its prominence as a national event, and her status as federal Green party leader. May took a motorboat tour of the Peace River on Friday with Colin Meek, one of the local farmers from the Peace River valley, and also met with Hudson’s Hope mayor Gwen Johansson.

May said that the Green Party plans on fighting the Site C Dam on several fronts. She said that the previous federal government’s decision to green-light the project was based on advice from the civil service that is unknown even to the current Liberal government. May also said that the federal government should once again ask the civil service to deliver a recommendation on whether the dam should be built. She adds that she does not feel that the provincial government will be able to obtain additional permits from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, or the Department of Transportation that oversees that Navigation of the Waters Protection Act.

Despite claims by Energy & Mines Minister Bill Bennett that the Site C construction project is now past the point of no return, May said that the former Joint Review Panel Chair Dr. Harry Swain has said that the dam is not a guarantee.

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