When orange is the new green

Yellow Blue Colours Colour Dandelion Green OrangeWe’re just over halfway through the provincial election campaign and the outcome is more uncertain than any previous election — more uncertain because we are no longer talking about just two parties. Let me explain.

Since the collapse in 1972 of the provincial Liberal and Conservative parties in the aftermath of the Dave Barrett NDP election victory, election campaigns in BC have focused on only two parties — the left-of-centre NDP and one incarnation or another of the free enterprise vote, either the Socreds (Social Credit Party) or the current iteration of the BC “Liberals”. In this election we now have a third viable option: BC’s Green Party.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting for a moment that Andrew Weaver and the provincial Greens have any chance of winning the election. For that matter, they certainly will not even form the official opposition. However, if the NDP win the election capturing more seats than the Liberals but lose a number of their current seats on Vancouver Island, where the Greens are currently polling ahead of both the NDP and the Liberals, then we may very well end up with the dream scenario I blogged about April 19 — an NDP minority with the Greens holding a balance of power!

In Europe, most, if not all of the Green parties run in coalition with left-of-centre parties — a so-called red/green alliance. From my point of view this would be ideal. The NDP could certainly be moved to a more progressive position on a number of environmental issues. The Green Party could certainly be moved to a more progressive position on a number of labour issues. An NDP/Green coalition — an orange/green alliance — might just result in the best of both worlds.

Today, Germany stands at the forefront of nations moving from conventional carbon-based energy to renewable energy. Analysts from all points of the political spectrum give the German Green Party credit for this. At the same time, speaking from a personal perspective, I have not always been happy with the foreign policy decisions of the German Green Party.

If we had proportional representation in BC we could predict with some sense of confidence that this election will produce the first ever NDP minority with the Greens holding the balance of power. As we don’t have pro rep, it’s impossible to predict. That makes voting more important than ever, so be sure your voice is heard May 9. (For information on how and where to vote, go to Elections BC.)

In the meantime, what we do know is this: The likelihood of an orange/green coalition government in Victoria is growing stronger by the day!

Posted in Elections - British Columbia, Green Party, Liberal Party, NDP, People Power, proportional representation, Vancouver | Comments Off on When orange is the new green

Double or nothing: Garbage collection vs. city councillors?

City council salaries are in the news again!

The Vancouver Courier’s Mike Howell, in one of his recent 12th and Cambie columns, notes that all city councillors but one are earning more than $100,000 per year, and that’s before any additional remuneration they collect, say, for chairing other committees such as ones tied to Metro Vancouver. This reminds me of a number of interesting conversations that have occurred over the years about the work of a city councillor.

Many years ago when my hero, Harry Rankin, was on city council, the topic of councillor salaries came up for debate. Council was once again deciding whether or not to award itself a pay raise — clearly a conflict of interest if there ever was one. Those debating in favour of the pay raise argued that the time it was taking city councillors to carry out their duties had doubled and, therefore, a commensurate pay raise was more than appropriate.

Harry Rankin would have none of it. To start, he was recognized by folks from all parts of the political spectrum as being by far the most efficient member of council. He had no difficulty staying on top of all of his council duties along with his very busy law practice.

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Our garbage collection workers make half the salary of city councillors, but who could we manage without longer? [Photo: qousqous CC by 2.0]

Harry’s take was to ask his fellow council members how long a factory owner would keep his workers when they admitted it was taking them twice as long to complete their jobs. Workers who suggested they had become half as efficient, he argued, wouldn’t be awarded a pay raise — they would be fired! As I’m sure you can guess, the councillors of the day awarded themselves a hefty pay raise anyway, but Harry’s argument has always stayed with me.

Readers of this blog who know anything about my politics will be surprised to learn of my compliments to former NPA Mayor Gordon Campbell. During his administration he decided it was time to put an end, once and for all, to city councillors regularly deciding how large their pay raise should be.

In fact, he decided they should not have a say at all in setting their pay rates. Instead, it should be equivalent to the amount earned by the average person employed at the City of Vancouver as measured by Statistics Canada. Such an egalitarian idea coming from such a right-wing mayor! Campbell’s proposal was approved by council, with Councillor Rankin’s strong support.

I was pleased that for many post-Campbell years, this egalitarian approach was followed by successive city councils.

When I was on council, partway through my second term (2002-05), COPE had a comfortable majority with the mayor and 8 of the 10 councillors belonging to the party. Some of the then-COPE councillors, who subsequently left COPE and formed Vision Vancouver, were terribly dissatisfied with the salary they were earning. One day a new and notably small pay raise kicked in for City Hall staff, including the secretarial support staff for city council.

I can still recall (with a smile) the discussion I had with Councillor Tim Stevenson. He was quite upset that his secretary was getting this small raise and yet he was, as he stated, “significantly underpaid”.

I asked him what his choice would be if we raised the salary of city council secretaries to match that of councillors: Would he become a secretary or remain a city councillor? He looked bewildered and replied, why a city councillor of course! Who would ever want to be a secretary!?

I didn’t respond but the question stands: Why should any position that rewards those who hold it with power and prestige also receive more and more money at the behest of those who hold that position?

I’m sad to say that just a few years ago council finally did away with former Mayor Campbell’s egalitarian approach, replacing it with a system for salaries allegedly based on comparisons with other cities and adjusted for population size, budgets and more.

Before signing off, I’ll leave you with one more thought about council salaries, this one from my significant other, Penny Parry. She asked me the other day how long Vancouver would be able to manage without garbage collection workers, and how long it could manage without Tim Stevenson and the Vision Vancouver majority on city council. It reminded me that councillors are paid roughly double the amount paid to the people who collect our garbage every week.

 

Posted in COPE, equality, fiscal responsibility, Harry Rankin, Vancouver, Vision Vancouver | 1 Comment

The power of Green

Will it finally happen? An NDP minority with the Green Party holding the balance of power in BC?

Last week the writ was dropped and the provincial election is, finally, formally underway. What makes this election possibly unique in our history is the fact that the NDP and the Liberals are in a statistical dead heat coupled with the polling of the Greens province-wide and in particular on Vancouver Island. (The approval rating of BC Green leader Andrew Weaver tops the premier’s while NDP leader John Horgan tops them both.)

What this means, bottom line, is that the Greens need win only a very small number of seats and they will hold the balance of power if the NDP and Liberals end up tied. From my point of view, an NDP minority with the Greens holding the balance of power would be a perfect outcome. Let me explain.

An NDP minority government with Greens holding the balance of power would finally put an end to the economically and environmentally disastrous Site C Dam project. Photo credit: Emma Gilchrist, DeSmog Canada (CC by 2.0).

Four years ago, the NDP reluctantly took a position in opposition to Kinder Morgan largely as a result of pressure from the Green Party. Today, the Greens are the only party firmly opposed to BC Hydro’s Site C Dam. It’s no secret that the NDP caucus is divided on this issue. An NDP minority with the Greens holding the balance of power would certainly put an end to this fiasco.

Perhaps the Vancouver Park Board is another indicator of how a Green minority can influence the entire elected body. As you may know, the park board is made up of seven park commissioners, only two of them Green. Vancouver Aquarium’s imprisonment of whales and other cetaceans has been a controversial issue for decades. It divided the park board when I was a park commissioner in the early ’90s. Recently, the board voted unanimously to bring cetaceans in captivity to a halt. All Vision Vancouver and NPA commissioners voted with the Greens in favour of this very positive motion. This would not have been possible without the bridge-building of Stuart Mackinnon and Michael Wiebe. (Wiebe is also now park board chair, thanks to both NPA and Vision support.)

At the federal level we can observe the bridge-building record of Elizabeth May, and we’ve already seen the positive impact Green Party leader Andrew Weaver has had in the provincial legislature.

If you want a more productive and environmentally progressive BC government you will be doing like me — keeping your fingers crossed for an NDP minority with Andrew Weaver and more Green members in the legislature holding the balance of power.

Election Day is Tuesday May 9, 2017. Elections BC information on where/when/how to vote is here:

2017 Provincial General Election

Posted in BC Liberals, British Columbia, Elections - British Columbia, Green Party, Liberal Party, NDP, NPA, Site C Dam, sustainability, Vancouver, Vancouver Park Board, Vision Vancouver | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Justice can prevail against all odds

In 2004 my partner Penny and I travelled to El Salvador as guests of the FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, one of two of the country’s major political parties). We toured this tiny Central American country for two weeks visiting many tiny municipal councils, environmental advocacy organizations, human rights organizations, women’s groups and disability groups. It was a real eye opener and a profound experience — we definitely got a crash course in El Salvadorian history.

For decades, almost all of the land in El Salvador, including all of its agricultural land, was owned literally by just a handful of very wealthy families. The population as a whole was extremely poor and the government, in the pockets of the rich, made certain that any effort at even modest wealth redistribution or land reform was quashed immediately, sometimes brutally.

By the 1970s, five tiny rebel groups were fighting to overthrow the government. They were well intentioned but no match for the brutal El Salvadorian military. Eventually, each of the five groups approached Cuba for assistance. This resulted in Fidel Castro inviting the leaders of the five rebel groups to Havana where he insisted they join forces under one umbrella as a pre-condition for Cuban support. The FMLN was born.

By the 1980s, the FMLN was on the verge of victory but US President Ronald Reagan massively increased military support to the El Salvadorian military. At one point the only nation in the world receiving more military support from Washington than El Salvador was Israel.

Into this volatile mix came the appointment of a new archbishop. The pope at the time very deliberately selected a conservative for this position — Archbishop Óscar Romero, who fit the bill perfectly. He was a lifelong conservative who had demonstrated little if any support for the public yearning for social justice. Archbishop Romero moved comfortably within ruling class circles and did not believe the church should meddle in societal conflict.

Once appointed archbishop, however, the archbishop underwent a philosophical transformation. He witnessed the assassination of many priests for the “crime” of working with parishioners to try and improve the lives of ordinary citizens. His sermons became more and more outspoken. And then it happened — Archbishop Romero delivered a sermon in which he pleaded with El Salvadorian soldiers to disobey orders to kill the innocent. He was then no longer acceptable to the powers of the day and the order was given to have him assassinated. The archbishop’s murder on March 24, 1980 was one of the most notorious crimes in modern history.

The nation erupted into full-blown civil war with neither side able to achieve a decisive military victory. Finally, an internationally brokered peace accord ushered in democratic elections. Today, the FMLN forms the democratically elected government.

The perpetrators of the assassination subsequently fled to the US. All efforts to hold them legally accountable failed. The defence was that the perpetrators could not be held accountable in American courts for crimes committed outside of America.

Then along came a young and idealistic lawyer, Matt Eisenbrandt. He and a number of like-minded lawyers had stumbled across an obscure American law — the Alien Torts Act, which specifically permits legal action in the United States even if the criminal act has been committed outside the country. The perpetrators were successfully sued and significant judgements were claimed against them.

My friend the political activist and author, Tom Sandborn, and I are incredibly honoured to be hosting Matt Eisenbrandt’s book launch Assassination of a Saint Monday, April 3, 7:00 p.m. at St. James Community Square, 3214 W. 10th in Vancouver.

In these times when the sky is filled with so many black clouds it’s so important we remind ourselves that justice can and will prevail against all odds. I urge you to join us for what will no doubt be an evening to remember. See you April 3.

Lawyer and author Matt Eisenbrandt will be in Vancouver April 3rd at St. James Community Square, talking about his book on the assassination of Archbishop Óscar Romero in El Salvador and its aftermath.

Posted in civil disobedience, cuba, events, justice system, law, People Power, social justice, solidarity, US politics, Vancouver | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Uber — Both good and bad news

On Tuesday the province gave Uber the green light to begin operating in BC.

If you see the world through the eyes of a consumer, this is great news. If you see the world through the eyes of a worker, this is definitely bad news.

Most of us, in Metro Vancouver at least, have had occasion to complain about the length of time we’ve had to wait for a taxi. The addition of Uber will definitely help resolve this. From a consumer point of view, the news gets even better. Uber is at the cutting edge of harnessing technology to improve the consumer experience. When is the last time you Googled customer reviews of the individual taxi driver dispatched to pick you up? Exactly — you never have, because you can’t. But Uber uses technology that literally puts the passenger in the driver’s seat.

This is all a plus for customers, but in a consumer-driven society the needs of workers are often left behind. In the case of the taxi industry, this is particularly so.

Let me tell you just a little bit about the working conditions of your taxi driver. No minimum wage. No statutory holidays or benefits. No benefits at all. No protection under the Employment Standards Act. No overtime pay, no matter how many hours worked in a shift. Ditto no matter how many hours worked in a week. No official coffee or lunch breaks. Your typical taxi driver works a 12-hour day 6 days a week and brings home very little money.

Our transportation choices affect our fellow workers — BC’s decision to allow Uber jeopardises thousands of taxi driver jobs, and Uber employment is not a sustainable alternative. Instead of a race to the bottom for people who drive us from Point A to Point B, the provincial government needs to listen to Vancouver Taxi Association’s pleas for improvements for the industry that will make taxis more convenient and accessible. [Photo by Alan Turkus (CC BY 2.0)]

If the above were not bad enough, many taxi drivers are forced to purchase their job. Let me explain. Taxi licences are bought and sold. The price of the licence increases as the unemployment rate increases and the number of people looking for work goes up.

Unemployed people desperate for a job look for ways to buy one so, if they can, they might put a mortgage against their home to secure the money required. The sad part is you then have unemployed people going further into debt to buy a taxi licence.

With Uber on the horizon, taxi drivers have been trying their best to work with government to create a solution that benefits consumers but also doesn’t make the situation even worse for taxi drivers. Their fear has been that if Uber is given the opportunity to flood the market, the worth of taxi licences will plummet. Drivers who have mortgaged their home will now be “under water”. What irony! Minimum wage workers now losing their biggest, and often their only asset — their home.

I get frustrated, as we all do, when I can’t get a taxi in a timely manner. However, the inconvenience I experience pales in comparison with the devastating harm about to be inflicted on literally thousands of taxi drivers province-wide by an insensitive and heartless provincial government that has totally ignored every recommendation made by the Vancouver Taxi Association.

The next time you take a taxi, take off your consumer “glasses” and try to see things through the eyes of your taxi driver.

Posted in British Columbia, taxi, transportation, Vancouver | Tagged , | 1 Comment

A positive new direction for HandyDART

As co-chair of the HandyDART Riders’ Alliance, since last October I’ve been sitting on a task force set up by TransLink. Our mandate is to advise TransLink on HandyDART issues. The creation of this task force and the appointment of many individuals from the HandyDART community to it is another indicator of the positive working relationship that’s developed between TransLink and the HandyDART community since the arrival about a year ago of Kevin Desmond as TransLink’s new CEO.

For many years, up to and including 2016, HandyDART service levels have remained constant. Now, as part of the first phase of TransLink’s new plan, HandyDART service levels will finally be increased. TransLink has committed to raise HandyDART service levels by 15% during Phase 1, which runs three years, 2017-19 inclusive. This compares very favourably with the 10% increase in service levels for conventional public transit during the same period.

For once, HandyDART service levels will be increasing faster than the rest of the system. This is definitely needed as demand for HandyDART services is also increasing. Demographic changes already underway will mean a very significant increase in the number of seniors living in Metro Vancouver over the next decade. Also, more and more people with mobility restrictions are entering the workforce. And the increased accessibility of the built environment means more and more of these same people need services like HandyDART since they finally can access things like stores and malls that were formerly out of reach.

On Friday, February 10, I’ll be joining TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond at a press conference at the Scott Road SkyTrain station to announce this positive news.

The HandyDART Riders’ Alliance recognizes the fact that while the 15% increase is very good news, it’s only a down payment on what is needed. If TransLink is to address the ongoing, significant increase in HandyDART demand and make up for years of neglect, HandyDART service levels must be significantly increased again in Phase 2.

One of the ideas the task force is considering recommending to TransLink is a no-trip-turndown policy. This means as long as a HandyDART user calls in a minimum number of days in advance, his/her trip request would be accommodated even if it means putting more HandyDART buses on the road. The fact that such a policy is even being considered is another good sign of the progress being made due to the new partnership between TransLink and the HandyDART community.

Posted in accessibility, equality, events, HandyDART, social justice, TransLink, transportation, Vancouver | Tagged , , | Comments Off on A positive new direction for HandyDART

Inspiration in the face of oppression

As I have watched with horror over the last week or so south of the border, I am not just outraged — I’m also inspired!

There’s no denying the fact that President Trump is a racist, a misogynist and an outright liar. Nor can there be any denying that he is narcissistic. His executive orders issued in a flurry over the last week or so are counter to all the values I hold. Why, then, am I inspired?

Two nights ago I watched Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez’ independent global news show, Democracy Now!. They had extensive film footage of the demonstrations at airports that manifested almost instantaneously upon news of President Trump’s executive order banning entry by citizens and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim nations. These were not small demonstrations!

The American Civil Liberties Union jumped into the fray immediately. Membership applications to the ACLU spiked and donations soared. The rule of law was brought to bear. Judges issued orders overturning important aspects of Trump’s executive order. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired by Trump for refusing to defend the travel ban.

Corporate America, rarely a friend of progressive movements, spoke strongly against this anti-immigration order. Starbucks committed to hiring 10,000 refugees. Google, Nike, Airbnb, Lyft, Coca-Cola, Facebook and others all denounced Trump’s executive order and/or issued statements about the important contributions immigrants make. Trump’s first presidential approval ratings are the lowest of any president since Gallup started doing such surveys in 1953 when Eisenhower was president.

Senior Republican leaders, including senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham have spoken strongly against President Trump’s immigration order. It’s unheard of for senior Republican senators to speak against their president.

I am strongly convinced that there is a silver lining to this very dark cloud.

A massive progressive movement is taking shape. I predict it will sweep Trump from office. He is a fool and a petty tyrant. The people are wise. Wisdom will prevail.

And in the aftermath, we will have the opportunity to construct a much more humane and democratic system than the one that brought this petty tyrant to power. One step backward, two steps forward — for the people are always inspiring.

Posted in feminism, People Power, social justice, Trumpism, US politics | Comments Off on Inspiration in the face of oppression

The power of progressive consciousness

With greater and greater frequency lately, the right wing is using one-offs to move public opinion. They are using stories and anecdotes appealing to our emotions and focused on a single person or incident in an effort to stop us from making higher and better choices for all of us.

A case in point — undocumented immigrants. A higher and better analysis would take into consideration all of the many positives that come from “illegal” immigration, positives such as economic stimulation, better lives for all who flee horrendous situations in their home countries, and the jobs and services performed by a willing migrant workforce that would remain unfilled without these individuals. The right wing counters all of this with one anecdotal account — a violent act, say, such as an assault committed by one migrant — while the overwhelming majority of undocumented immigrants contributes very positive things to society.

CBC Radio’s The Current recently featured a fascinating interview with Paul Bloom, professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University. His book, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, is all about the need to think and reason clearly about the problems we face, and base our decisions and policies on compassion and, most importantly, facts. We need to rise above empathetic, emotional reactions whenever the right, or anyone, pushes our buttons with simple, one-off stories and narratives.

As we look south of the border to the year about to unfold, let’s hope that popular mass action based on rational thinking and compassion will not just slow Trump down but stop his agenda in its tracks.

I’m already heartened to hear about the sit-in in the office of Trump’s pick for attorney general, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who has taken action in the past that is obviously racially biased. Dignified in demeanour and dressed in suits, the protestors, who included Cornell William Brooks, president of the NAACP, were determined to sit in Sessions’ office until his nomination was withdrawn or they were arrested. Unfortunately, the latter came first.

I’m equally heartened by the huge march for women’s rights on Washington DC January 21, the day after the president’s inauguration. With women, men and young people signing up daily, it may be the largest inauguration demonstration ever. “Sister” demonstrations are springing up across the US and Canada, including Vancouver.

By coincidence, the march and inauguration happen just days after Martin Luther King Day this year. Already more than 150,000 people are registered. Could it be that the numbers will swell to even more than Martin Luther King’s 1963 march on Washington when he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech — the largest demonstration in the nation’s capital so far?

I am not just optimistic — I’m predicting that we will witness in the coming months the awakening of progressive consciousness on a scale not seen in decades.

The silver lining to Trump’s election will be the convergence of the kind of rational compassion Bloom advocates and the activism for justice we’ve been witnessing lately. It will be the North Dakota water protectors, the Black Lives Matter and Idle No More people, and all the environmental activists we’ve been seeing in the streets coalescing times 10.

Posted in Canadian politics, civil disobedience, feminism, Indigenous sovereignty, refugees, social justice, solidarity, tar sands, Trumpism, US politics, Vancouver | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The power of progressive consciousness

Letting the light in for the New Year

As the year has wound down, it’s time to look back on it and forward to 2017.

2016 has seen many dark clouds. The election of Donald Trump was perhaps the darkest one of all. Justin Trudeau appears to have lost his appetite for proportional representation, and climate change is accelerating. No one would blame you if you’re feeling somewhat pessimistic as the year drew to a close.

However, as Leonard Cohen taught us, it is the cracks that let the light in. Perhaps things are not so bleak after all. Let’s take a moment and look forward to what might be possible in 2017.

It’s no secret that mainstream Republicans do not support Trump. It’s also no secret that he has no concern whatsoever for the rule of law in general and conflict of interest in particular. Put all this into the mix and I see the potential for a Trump impeachment in 2017. If it happens, you read it here first!

As we watched and learned from south of the border this past year, Martin Luther King’s dictum of nonviolent resistance is the most powerful weapon by far. The water protectors in North Dakota were up against a force that, on the face of it, was much more powerful than they were. Tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons were just some of the weapons the “more powerful side” had at its disposal, yet the water protectors were victorious. The takeaway for me is that we can and will defeat Kinder Morgan if we follow this inspiring example. We must make it physically impossible for Kinder Morgan to proceed while at the same time demonstrating the utmost respect for any police or security forces turned against us.

Christy Clark’s most recent media interview, by many accounts, was one of her worst ever. By contrast, the NDP’s John Horgan was interviewed on CBC Radio’s Early Edition earlier last week and he was a brand new John Horgan — polished, confident and premier-like. The NDP have a number of issues to go after Christy Clark on, but possibly the biggest one is the $2 billion-plus provincial budget surplus. It’s one thing to campaign on a platform of restraint when there’s no money. It’s quite another to ask the public to continue to say no to much-needed social programs when the money is sitting in the province’s bank account. It’s not too much to hope that the province’s very positive balance sheet becomes an albatross around Christy Clark’s neck, opening up the possibility of an NDP minority government with the Green Party holding the balance of power. No more Site C Dam! An end to Kinder Morgan!

As of late, Justin Trudeau has been choosing his words very carefully. When talking about proportional representation, he seems to be leaving the door open for a retreat on one of his most significant election campaign promises. However, the PR movement is very well organized and has been doing an excellent of job of putting letters of support on the desks of Liberal MPs. Add to this the fact that the NDP and the Green Party have continued to push vigorously for this very important change to our electoral system. Fingers crossed Justin Trudeau will do the right thing and open the door to proportional representation in the coming year.

Yes, many dark clouds are hovering above us but the cracks between them can let in lots of sunshine in 2017.

Wishing you light and happiness and peace in the New Year.

Posted in BC Liberals, British Columbia, Canadian politics, civil disobedience, climate change, economy, Green Party, Liberal Party, NDP, pipelines, proportional representation, sustainability, US politics | 1 Comment

Is Kinder Morgan going to be Justin Trudeau’s Standing Rock?

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Standing Rock, August 31st 2016. Photo by Justin Deegan.

I’ve been one part saddened and one part outraged by the video footage coming out of Standing Rock, North Dakota over the last number of weeks as passive, unarmed water protectors are attacked on a daily basis, sometimes by police in riot gear. Police and security forces have not hesitated to use attack dogs, Taser barbs, rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, stun grenades, sound cannons and more. As temperatures dipped to sub-freezing they even increased their use of water hoses, putting thousands of men, women and children at grave risk of hypothermia.

To reduce and possibly eliminate film footage coming out of this peaceful protest, the police imposed a no-fly zone above the demonstrators. This made it very difficult for news media to cover the brutal actions of the police and security. One journalist who decided to document and bear witness is the award-winning broadcast journalist, Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!. Her camera crew videoed a guard dog with blood literally dripping from its nose shortly after it had been used to attack one of the protestors. Ms. Goodman was then arrested and charged with criminal trespass. The prosecutor later increased the charge to incitement to riot. Fortunately, for those of us who believe in freedom of the press, the judge threw out the charge.

On December 4, in a victory of enormous magnitude, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that the pipeline company would not be permitted to continue with their plan to place the pipeline under the Missouri River near Standing Rock.

Just a few weeks ago, thousands of citizens took to the streets in Vancouver to protest Justin Trudeau’s recent announcement approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline. By all accounts this was not your run-of-the-mill, humdrum protest. Instead, it was filled with energy and absolute determination to stop this dirty pipeline. Many reminisced about the 1990s War of the Woods in British Columbia when thousands were arrested and convicted of civil disobedience in protest against massive clear-cut logging of old growth forests. The protestors were eventually victorious — the government and forest companies involved agreed to negotiate an end to this type of logging.

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Burnaby Mountain, Nov. 17 2014. Photo by Mark Kurtz (CC BY 2.0).

I am convinced that the Kinder Morgan pipeline will never proceed. Either Justin Trudeau will come to his senses or people power, as was the case in the War of the Woods and in North Dakota, will prevail.

 

Posted in British Columbia, Canadian politics, civil disobedience, climate change, Indigenous sovereignty, People Power, pipelines, sustainability, tar sands, Vancouver | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Is Kinder Morgan going to be Justin Trudeau’s Standing Rock?