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Actress/activist Daryl Hannah being arrested at a recent protest in Washington, DC, to stop the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline from the Tar Sands to Texas

Last week I advised that we must be prepared to lie down in front of machinery aimed at creating the pipelines from the Tar Sands to Kitimat and, as I fully expected, got some heat.

We have to face this question before we get into morality and legality issues – why do you suppose that there is no public process dealing with the merits of this idea?

The answer is simple: the Campbell/Clark and Harper Governments know that we won’t try to physically stop the undertaking, so why bother holding meaningful hearings? To do so would raise the expectation that we care and would listen.

I realize that the above is cynical but cynicism has been Campbell/Clark’s hallmark since they took office in 2001, announced that the NDP had left us in penury and promptly gave over a billion in tax cuts to the well off.

(And let me set out once more the issue – building and using pipelines or tankers does not pose risks but absolute mathematical certainties of catastrophic consequences. If you take a “risk” without any limit on how often or how long you will run this “risk”, that risk becomes a certainty; the only question remaining being the extent of damage done).

When the public has no influence on the making of a law it has no option but to oppose it on the ground.

Let me make something clear that I omitted in my last article: the defiance must be peaceful. The example of Mahatma Gandhi must be the by-word. Such violence as may occur must be by the authorities, not the protesters. Please take what I just said as being in deadly earnest.

Moreover, any who disobey the law must be prepared to accept the consequences.

To the morality. Civil disobedience must be in consequence of a wrong being done, not a political whim. There is a large difference between protesting and active flouting of a law and one crosses the Rubicon with very great care. CD must be in response to a serious change in policy not warranted by any public approval. It is not enough to say that a free government approved the project because in our system, parliaments (legislatures) are not free agents voting the wishes of their constituents. Moreover our governments don’t even trouble themselves with legislatures – it’s just time wasted on getting a rubber stamp. As Finance Minister Kevin Falcon has remarked, it would all be so much easier if we were like China and didn’t trouble ourselves with tiresome procedures in such matters and just let the government get on with it.

Let’s get down to principles and morality. If a government, with its friendly construction companies, decides to irrevocably destroy large tracts of wilderness, exposing it to the absolute certainty of ongoing catastrophes, can they do this at their pleasure? Must the public be content with their right, several years down the road, to throw out the government after their policy is a fait accompli?

All of what I argue prevails with equal if not even greater impact against oil tankers down our coast.

Have we not got the right nay, duty to do all within our power, save violence, to stop this from happening? Are these not, in Tom Paine’s words, ”times that try men’s souls”?

Where is the illegality, the immorality here? Is it immoral, should it be illegal for citizens to stand against a tyrannical government which, hand in hand with its bankers, destroys our wilderness, ruins our rivers and the ecologies they sustain and poses the never-ending threat of horrific oil spills on land and in the oceans?

How can the people be wrong to reject the outright lies of government and industry flacks? What is the only option left a citizenry when a dictatorial government demolishes our land for all time?

How can citizens be wrong to stop, with their bodies and freedoms, the ravishing of nature’s bountiful and precious endowment so that world’s filthiest energy source can be spread like black ooze across one of the last wildernesses on earth?

I suppose it gets down to this: is it a sufficient answer for generations to come that we tried to stop the carnage they see by sending letters to editors and carrying placards?

I think not.

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