Last week I spoke to a large audience in Nelson where people are up in arms (figuratively) over the Glacier-Howser Independent power project. This followed on the heels of a public meeting in Kaslo (pop 1000) where 1100 showed up.
These meetings raise the critical question as to what can be done.
Trying to persuade the Ministry of Environment not to approve the project is a waste of time. That the government and companies are as close as Siamese twins is evidenced by the fact that the Environmental Assessment process is held jointly by the company and the senior governments. One of their cute tricks is to hold the public meeting in a small centre like Kaslo rather than the larger centre, Nelson. At these meetings one is out of order if they question the project on its merits!
Assessment of what the public can do is based upon the public having had no input into the government’s energy policy which spawned the independent power projects; having their right to a hearing in their municipal region (taken away by Campbell by Bill 30); and no right to raise questions on the merits of the project at the phony baloney meetings under the tender care of the company and senior governments. This leaves citizens two choices – accept the project and the ruination of their rivers or commit civil disobedience.
The consequences of civil disobedience, because of nice and legal abuse of the court system by the company with the blessing of the Tyrant Campbell, inevitably brings jail. It happens this way.
There is picketing, laying down in front of dirt movers whereupon the company brings on an application in court for an injunction depriving people of their right to go on Crown land and protest. When people disobey this court order, they are hailed before the judge and sent to jail, often times for no fixed period.
Civil disobedience has a long and honourable history when governments won’t even supply the opportunity to be heard. In fact, as I said, it’s the only thing left.
There are two basic rules; one must accept the consequences and there must be no violence,
The Glacier-Howser project is by a company called Axor which is really the immensely rich American Dupont family enterprise. This ghastly project, with utterly unacceptable environmental consequences, will take place no matter what the public does except to picket in spite of the consequences.
My reading of the situation is that the good burghers of the West Kootenays will picket and accept jail but with this added factor – there won’t just be one or two go to jail but many others. All these people have left to fight with is publicity. God knows they won’t get much with the current media and must hope for national and international pressure.
I believe that the people in the West Kootenays will fight this fight with more vigor than this tyrannical government is bargaining for.
I hope so.