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Barbara Grant

84 year-old retired librarian Barbara Grant getting arrested at Burnaby Mountain (Burnaby Mountain Updates/facebook)

Beyond doubt, British Columbia must get involved in two separate and substantial actions of civil disobedience, one with Site C and the other with the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Civil disobedience runs against the grain of many people but I beg you to hear me out because we have reached the point where there is nothing left for our free society to do if it seriously wants to maintain any semblance of that freedom.

Sham dictatorship

Let me state a critical axiom of democracy: It’s not important that those who dissent get their way but what is critically important, fundamentally important, is that they get to be heard in a meaningful way. The moment people are denied the right to speak their opinion freely and with a clear opportunity to convince the government that they are right, there is no democracy left but only a sham dictatorship of the elite.

Let’s examine our system and see if we meet that test and use the Kinder Morgan pipeline decision as the example.

British Columbians, I think it’s fair to say, are vehemently opposed to this; what then is the answer Premier Clark and Prime Minister Trudeau would give to those who complain that they cannot get a hearing that matters?

Why, they would be told, you have both the legislature and the Parliament of Canada and all you need do is persuade 50% +1 of either of those bodies and your complaint will be satisfied. It is at this point that I have a lot of trouble containing my anger.

We’ve been told a lot of rubbish, starting in childhood. I did a paper on this so-called system of “responsible government”, which paper has been highly praised by people who understand government. It’s easy to understand – you will be appalled at the simplicity of the methods used to steal away your democracy.

In the last federal election, it was impossible for any British Columbian to elect an MP who opposed the Kinder Morgan pipeline because the leaders of both the Liberal and Tory party supported it. Every Liberal and Tory MP were bound by party discipline to support the leader’s policy or be thrown out of caucus and the party. Think about that. Their judgment on this issue was already made for them. Even if the leader waited until after the election, his decision was also automatically that of all his MPs.

The fix is in

Now, if I am right that a majority of BC citizens oppose Kinder Morgan, of what use was their parliament? Their concerns would never be discussed, much less voted upon. Even if the Opposition were against the project, since no government MP would dare vote against it, the entire process becomes a sham, a make-believe debate and a vote where the fix is in. In fact, no longer can government be bothered and cabinet endorses the deal behind closed doors.

Since the BC government has always been in favour, over 4 million British Columbians have turned its forests, rivers, streams, land, coastline, marine line and public safety over to the tender mercies of the fossil fuel industry without any say in the matter!

And somehow it would be undemocratic to say “fuck you, we’re going to stop you, without using violence, from ravaging our beautiful province”?

In a nutshell, it’s lawful to be a thief and unlawful to try to stop him!

Media part of the problem

We are in a very different world from that even a few years ago. The people have caught onto big business and big government and know they’ve have been lying through their teeth for years. It’s taken a while but voters now realize that their vote really doesn’t mean much. Capital now owns governments – one only has to look at the situation in British Columbia to see how the fossil fuel-dominated media has not only supported the industry’s actions but meekly supports the lickspittles that make up the government. As long as the government behaves and does as it’s told then the muckrakers confine themselves to accepting large fees for making speeches before gatherings of friends of the government. It has become a pathetic sight, especially for a former cabinet minister like me who still bears the justifiable scars inflicted by Jack Webster, Marjorie Nichols, Jim Hume, Pat Burns, Gary Bannerman, Allan Fotheringham, Jack Wasserman, and the like, upon whom the public could rely to keep our feet firmly to the fire.

With respect, you the public must ask yourselves what you will do where there is an absence of any legitimate democratic process, where there is no place you can effectively voice your concerns and where the media won’t do it because they, the government and the domineering fossil fuel industry are all on the same team.

I have no hesitation in concluding that civil disobedience, properly exercised, is the only tool left to the voter to replace the meaningful vote they are supposed to have but have been cheated out of.

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