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That can happen when government shuts citizens out of critical decisions.

The world abounds in wake-up calls but, as Sinclair Lewis wrote, “It can’t happen here.”

Or can it?

All over the world, citizens are taking to the streets and although the issues vary, there is an underlying theme — the government isn’t paying attention and the corporations, as usual, are lying.

Citizens against a large pipeline gather in rage in front of the White House.

Throughout the streets of the Middle East there are rebellions taking place.

In the U.K., there were riots, ostensibly, because of diminished social services.

While in Vancouver, people rioted, again ostensibly, as a result of a lost hockey game.

Many governments seem bewildered at what’s happening and in at least three of them, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, are coming to the easy but wrong conclusion that putting down the riot/demonstration will take care of everything.

A spectrum of resisters

It is not my purpose here to condone violence and looting but to paint, for those in charge of British Columbia, what it all really means.

There have been many riots throughout history, of course, and some springing from bad motivations, such as the anti-Asian riot in Vancouver in 1907.

But usually those rioting have been one class of people, workers, rioting against a perceived threat to their livelihoods or to make their lives better. Examples in the U.K. included mineworkers rioting for better conditions, and, Chartists and Luddites rioting against new machines in Peterloo in 1819.

The widespread protests against the war in Vietnam, however, crossed all social and racial lines and happened when mass media had become worldwide. Most were non-violent demonstrations but some of the resistance was violent.

As a recent environmental activist, I have noticed something that the government obviously hasn’t. The protesters span all societal boundaries. Rather than being (mostly) young people, many gray heads, and indeed hairless heads are seen at rallies in which I’ve been involved. At the protests over the Eagleridge desecration in aid of the Sea-to-Sky upgrades I saw what I dubbed the three-piece-suit/pearl-necklace crowd, which went in busloads to Tsawwassen to protest the transmission lines and ALR demonstrations. Anti-fish-farm demonstrations clearly included a wide variety of angry people. The B.C. government either hasn’t the wit to understand what it all means, or perhaps (my view) they just don’t give a damn.

I neither predict violence nor, God knows, want it. I’m simply saying that more and more British Columbians are pissed off and at more and more things.

Demanding a say

There is a common thread, whether it be fish farms, private power outrages, threats to wildlife preserves, seized farmland for highways, pipelines, oil tankers, First Nations demonstrations — you name it. The common thread is lack of meaningful consultation. This was certainly obvious in the HST referendum as it was in the 1992 Charlottetown Accord referendum. In ever increasing numbers, British Columbians simply refused to acknowledge that the government knows best.

Mere consultation is not enough. It must be transparently meaningful.

A very good example is the Environmental Assessment Process for private power projects. I’ve been to several and as I’ve remarked before, I’d rather have a root canal without anaesthetic than go to another one.

These meetings are put on by the company, at a location inconvenient to most people and is chaired by a government employee. The meeting isn’t even called until it’s a done deal. Indeed, the only thing a member of the public can do is ask about the technical environmental process or make suggestions along that line. Time and again people want to deal with the merits of the undertaking — time and time again they are ruled out of order. The company rep is an exception and is allowed to extol the “virtues” of the project ad nauseum.

I must admit that these hearings had an unintended consequence for the company and its co-opted politicians. So many people heard about the hearings and informed themselves of the issues that even the toady media in this province began to discover that — Surprise! Surprise! — trouble makers like Joe Foy, Damien Gillis and Rafe Mair just might be right in saying that these private power projects (IPPs) were not only wrecking the rivers but bankrupting BC Hydro.

This happened because the protests raised extended the time of final approval such that even this media could no longer avoid facing the issues. When they finally did, they acted as if they were breaking news!

BC’s ecology at stake

Two hot button issues have had a very dangerous addition — oil pipelines and oil tankers. I say “dangerous” because here we have a mathematical certainty that pipelines will spring leaks and tankers will founder.

Why are they mathematical certainties?

That’s simple. If you take a so-called risk without any boundaries as to how long or how often you will take it, it’s no longer a risk but a certainly waiting to happen. There will, as a certainty, be ghastly leaks in our fragile and wondrous wild country; there will be, as a certainly, a tanker disaster.

It does no good to cloak movement of oil in our province with weasel words like “mitigation.” It is plain that a series of ghastly calamities will forever despoil our wilderness on land and at sea.

The question remains, I suppose, whether I am encouraging violence by raising subjects which beget violence.

I leave that with readers and will only say that I hate violence with every fibre of my body. The blame for violence will not be on the head of those who warned of it but those who thought that their fellow citizens had endless patience with politicians who would desecrate their beloved province.

6 Responses to “Will Violent Protest Rock BC?”

  1. r says:

    It is not necessary to bury the truth.
    It is sufficient merely to delay it until nobody cares: Napoleon Bonaparte

  2. ron wilton says:

    I for one, will be front and center on the protest lines, arm in arm with First Nations and all right(small r)thinking Canadians, if and when Enbridge attempts to turn over one grain of BC terrain for ‘their’ ill advised pipeline.

    I am not a small person, so I would encourage the authorities hired by Enbridge, to be prepared , (and those monitoring Rafe’s online site), to have no small struggle in their attempts to physically remove me.

    To the court officers who will be recruited by the corporate commmunity to ‘encourage’ me to see the ‘error of my ways’ (as opposed to the ‘rightness’ of their ways), I will return, again and again and again, to the front lines until the corporate insanity is stopped or I expire.

    I call on all the senior citizens of British Columbia, who want their children and grandchildren to live in a province not despoiled by corporate greed, to join with our brothers and sisters to once and for all, stop the madness of our corporate contolled governments.

    We stopped the HST, this Enbridge assault will be a walk in the park.

    Today Enbridge, tomorrow GE’s IPP’s and then Marine Harvest (If Dr. Morton hasn’t sunk them by then).

  3. jartann says:


    People like the above and Rafe Mair are agin everything. Agin logging, fish farms, mining, oil exploration, tourism developments. Pretty much everything, and then use the dishonest tactic of justifying it on the grounds that it is really their children and grandchildren they care about. A load of garbage.

    The senior citizens will have a very rude awakening when it turns out that their isn’t enough money to pay the pensions they have been relying on. Contrary to the belief system of the aginners, the tooth fairy is not the source of money used to pay pensions, public and private. It is the “profits” of the “evil” corporations that generate the income the pensions need. Anyone who thinks that governments can replace that is just a fool.

    Ron Wilton likes to pretend he is a courageous person. He says he is not a small person (small brain perhaps) So, please, break the law. I hope he is thrown in the klink. And comparing our situation to Egypt and Syria is just insane. Only someone who is totally deranged would buy into that comparison, thus its inclusion in Rafe’s article.

    Of course, the greens are just peace loving activists exercising their democratic rights. Right-but once they are in charge, people will be thrown in jail (or worse) just ask David Suzuki, or George Monbiot. The green movement is an authoritarian political philosophy disguised as a scientific one.

  4. ron wilton says:

    Geez Jartann, try holding your breath just a little longer this time.

    Trust me, you will be doing everyone around you, a big favour.

  5. jartann says:

    Your reply rather proves my point-that some people are incapable of rational argument and rely on what they “know” even if there is little evidence to support such alleged knowledge.

    Our province will not be “despoiled” by the proposed pipeline. In order for that to be the case, the pipeline would have to be as wide as it is long. I want to live in a province that offers opportunities for the very young people that the aginners want to “protect”. Without developments like this, those opportunities won’t exist. Right now, many of our young people are being “protected” from economic opportunity because the aginners oppose everything except ideas that make no economic sense at all.

    All economic development is about tradeoffs, not implementing perfect plans with no downside. The “corporate greed” idea is a typical throw away line used by shallow thinkers everywhere. This is about cost v benefit. Theoretical costs, vs certain benefits. But, to the aginners, making sure that there are no corporate profits justifies anything and everything-and the same people complain about no jobs. In order for there to be jobs, there must be work-and work means that changes take place.

    The precautionary principle preached by the greens, holds that nothing can be done for the first time until every possible down side is known. As a practical matter, that makes innovation impossible which of course is the goal in the first place. Bring back 1955! or 1899! Luddites rejoice!

  6. ron wilton says:

    OMG! Are you for real Jartann?

    At least ‘try’ doing a little research before babbling your blather.

    Google ‘Out on the Tar Sands’ for starters, although I suspect you would rather rant and rave than get acquainted with a few facts.

    You put me in mind of that Mark Twain aphorism; “Why not remain silent and have people think you a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt”.

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