Rafe Mair: Civil disobedience against LNG plans is a must
It’s time to fish or cut bait, folks.
We’ve learned that some 200 LNG tankers and barges are slated to use the lower Fraser River and the company, WesPac, doesn’t even feel the public deserves a say through a proper environmental assessment.
We’re told by the company that LNG tankers have a 50 year safety record so there is naught to worry about. You should know, however, that the company lies through its teeth by leaving out four rather important words “on the high seas“.
The Fraser River is not the “high seas”?
Bear in mind, as reported here in The Common Sense Canadian, the recommended distances between the tanker and shore, set out by Sandia Laboratories as well as the industry’s own organization, the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO), makes it clear that both the Fraser River and Howe Sound are totally inappropriate for LNG tankers.
Neither government gives a fiddler’s fart.
Batten down the hatches
My main point today is that we must be prepared to fight and I don’t think we are. Most of us are brought up to believe that being a reasonable is the way to go through life and that this approach will be beget reasonableness from others. I fear that many opposed to LNG tanker traffic think that by being reasonable with the companies and the governments that they will see the light and cancel their projects.
They are dead wrong.
You can call me a cynic if you wish but I assure you that my “hawkishness” comes from real and extended experience in these matters.
Neither the federal nor provincial governments have the slightest concern what the public feels about LNG tanker traffic. They know best. They don’t care who owns the companies, nor about Scandia Laboratories, SIGTTO or any scientific evidence that doesn’t suit their purposes.
Speaking from experience…
Permit me to go back a few years to the 1986 Kemano Completion Project (KCP), agreed upon by Alcan, the federal government and the provincial government.
In order for this agreement to be made, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ condemnation of the project had to be ignored and, indeed, the major report was buried until 10 years later, when it was leaked to me by one of the DFO scientists who badly wanted the truth to be known.
The Minister of Environment of the day made it abundantly clear that the decision was a political one. The agreement, involving billions, was made in spite of this buried DFO report saying it would be an environmental catastrophe. You should know that if the government tells you they’re relying on science, you can be damn sure they’re studiously ignoring anything that might contradict their political ambitions.
If that were all, it would be bad enough but several scientists in the DFO were punished for not going along, through transfers, early retirement, loss of seniority and so on. All of us involved in that fight against the KCP felt ill when the story how these very fine scientists were treated came to our attention.
From this cautionary tale those who oppose LNG in general and tanker traffic in particular should know that the government and the companies won’t pay the slightest bit of attention unless we are prepared to employ non-violent civil disobedience at the appropriate time.
What would Churchill do?
At the start of World War II, the RAF flew many sorties over the Ruhr district of Germany, wherein most of the industrial might of that country lay.
Did they drop bombs and try to disrupt the Nazi war effort?
Not a chance. That might provoke retaliation!
Instead, they dropped pamphlets imploring the Germans to surrender!
Needless to say this was before Churchill became Prime Minister.
Figuratively speaking, we who want to stop this LNG madness are dropping pamphlets over the Ruhr, unwilling to do anything that might anger the enemy. Little wonder the “enemy” doesn’t believe we’ll fight and that as long as they toss us a scrap or two along the way, we’ll remain docile and obedient.
Protest marches and the waving of signs have their place in fights like this. But, having said that, if we aren’t prepared in the final analysis to do what the good citizens of Burnaby did with Kinder Morgan, we might as well pack it in right now.
Being prepared for “civil disobedience” carries with it the responsibility of marshalling our forces and making it clear to companies and governments that we’ll employ this weapon without hesitation.
We’re brought up to respect and obey the law but what if the law is consistently stacked in favour of the “establishment”, as protest laws are?
The most cursory look at the history of liberty tells us that nothing was ever gained from the establishment of the day without it being forced from them against their will. Whether it be the Magna Carta, The Peasants’ Revolt, the Glorious Revolution, The Tolpuddle Martyrs, The American Revolution – you name it – it’s obvious that establishments never yield an inch of civil liberties and justice without it being taken from them.
Sham environmental assessments
Today, even the environmental assessment processes ostensibly to protect the public, are as phoney as wooden nickels and kowtow to industry while denying the most basic rights to the public.
The Christy Clark bunch are politically trapped into promises of great riches to the province from LNG, which won’t happen, leaving them flapping their lips and hoping that something turns up.
Worst of all, we have no one to speak for us – our politicians are worse than useless.
Not so sturdy for the public
A recent example comes from my MLA, Liberal Jordan Sturdy. His pockets full of campaign money raised by Woodfibre LNG, he was asked about having a crook like Sukanto Tanoto, owner of WFLNG, as our business partner. He replied that Mr. Tanoto’s international reputation should not matter in whether his B.C. project goes forward. It’s the business itself that needs proper regulation, he said.
That sums up the “due diligence” done by the Clark government on behalf of the citizens of British Columbia!
We who desperately want to protect our environment and keep our population safe have no one on our side and everyone against us. To me, those odds are perfect, provided we have the courage to defend ourselves and let the government know this.
It gets down to this: we either play their game and, as we were taught in Sunday School, be polite and turn the other cheek, or we let it be known that in the absence of protection from our governments, we will disobey the unfair laws that allow these outrages to be perpetrated against us.
There is, sadly but truthfully, no middle ground.