Deep Green Resistance Vancouver says a militant defence of the environment is needed

A new crop of local activists is advocating for militant actions—including sabotage—to defend the environment.


Do you think sabotage is an appropriate tactic in environmental activism?

Yes 25%
44 votes
No 33%
58 votes
Sometimes 42%
73 votes

Organizers of Deep Green Resistance Vancouver say that usual tactics like holding rallies, handing out flyers, and participating in public forums aren’t enough.

Although they emphasize that as an aboveground organization they’ll only engage in nonviolent actions, one of the group’s stated objectives is to “shift public opinion toward supporting an underground resistance that exists or may come to exist”.

“It was born out of necessity,” Jason Doherty said about the concept of “deep green resistance” during a phone interview with the Straight. “A lot of environmental groups play a vital role in protecting the environment. However, if you look back at the track record of these organizations, you’ll find that a majority of them are dealing with a fairly dismal track record in terms of the actual destruction that they’ve prevented.”

That also explains why Doherty won’t denounce people like Rebecca Rubin. The former North Vancouver resident surrendered to American authorities on November 29, 2012, after six years on the run. She was wanted for her alleged involvement in arson attacks by the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front in the U.S. more than a decade ago.

“I’m not drawing any lines at this point in time,” Doherty said. “I wouldn’t condemn their actions.”

The Deep Green Resistance movement started in North America. It was inspired by the 2011 book Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet by Canadian author Aric McBay and Americans Lierre Keith and Derrick Jensen.

Joe Foy has been involved in the Canadian environmental movement since the mid ’80s, and the national campaign director of the Vancouver-based Wilderness Committee is familiar with the thinking behind direct action.

“I understand the philosophy and, certainly, when one looks at the loss of species, the decline of the oceans, the destruction of farmland, and especially the changing climate, an argument can be made that environmental protection would necessitate actions that may damage equipment or put people at risk,” Foy told the Straight in a phone interview. “I disagree with that. I think that if we are trying to build a society worth having, we should maintain the peaceful and respectful society that we have here in Canada and try to improve on it, not go the other way and create a society where decisions are made by who can wreak the most damage on the other. I reject that notion.”

But according to Daniel Whittingstall, an organizer with Deep Green Resistance Vancouver, the mainstream environmental movement has “only put a Band-Aid” over the deteriorating health of the planet.

“For those of us that are in the [Deep Green Resistance] movement…our direct action would be the protesting and the blockades and the petitioning but also the advocating for, like, basically sabotaging the system so that the system will crash in on itself,” Whittingstall told the Straight in a phone interview. “Now, we won’t actually be doing that, but we advocate and we try to educate the public on the need for that to happen.”

Kevin Washbrook engaged in civil disobedience when he and other activists stood on the train tracks in White Rock to stop rail shipments of coal to Delta in May 2012. For that action, they were arrested.

Washbrook has heard about Deep Green Resistance and says he understands the frustration and anger that some feel about the continuing degradation of the environment. However, he believes that direct action will ultimately fail as a strategy because it will only invite a violent response from the government.

“Is the goal to try and solve the problem yourself through your action, or is the goal to point out to society that there is a moral and ethical dilemma that everyone’s ignoring [and] that needs to be confronted?” Washbrook said in a phone interview with the Straight. “I think it’s the latter.”

With B.C. as ground zero in the expansion of oil and gas pipelines, Deep Green Resistance Vancouver may yet find fertile ground for its call to defend the environment through direct action.

Comments (38) Add New Comment
Lawrence Hearn
Much of the frustration at government's (especially Harper's) relentless attack on the environment and its supporters is because of the UNFAIR & UNREPRESENTATIVE electoral system. This is the real issue that should be brought forward into the public consciousness and repeated over an over again. The one-party mentality of the minority Conservative Party is a direct result of Canada\s antiquated and essentially UNDEMOCRATIC ELECTORAL SYSTEM. It's time to stop bombing other countries for democracy and bring real democracy to Canada.
Rating: +25
When you try to hurt people for your cause, don't be surprised if they try to hurt you back.
Rating: +9
Gerry Arafat
Rating: -37
Will Jackson
They wreck the environment to make money, if we can stop them from making a profit through sabotage, and hence save the environment, sabotage away.
Rating: +25
Harper will have his prisons ready and waiting.
Rating: -27
Lee Leeman
"he believes that direct action will ultimately fail as a strategy because it will only invite a violent response from the government."

It isn't government you should be afraid of. It is the rest of us who will gladly support a violent response to such insane zealotry.

Rating: -19
Louis Cyphre
the real problem is that rurals get up to twice the voting power as more educated, culturally superior urban folks
Rating: -52
James G
"The ends justify the means" crowd is at it again. Being proactive against environmental damage does not have to involve either embracing the tactics of terror or bending to fascism. If only the Western world had recent experience of groups having such fundamentally flawed violent overreach in search of political objectives ... oh, wait ...

Look around so-called activists at the faces of your comrades. I would bet loonies to maple doughnuts that some of them are with CSIS and that your first planned act of violence will lead to widespread arrests.
Rating: -6
h d
Violence bring more of the same. If the MAJORITY of people agreed with the greenies there would be a responce,but as it stands people dont want to live in caves and eat grass,as if you stop gas prduction you stop income for Canada,and Canadians.We cant stop Global WEATHER we are not GODS.
Rating: -30
out at night
A reasonably diligent student of history knows that few if any major political/social movements ever got far without some sort of organized resistance that goes beyond the current widely accepted tactics of lobbying and rallies, etc. Even Ghandi and MLK, though they explicitly condemned violence as a means to accomplishing their goals, still sent thousands of their followers into battle, so to speak. The violence may not have been initiated by these people but they certainly knew it would follow as their tactics practically invited and anticipated it. Lives were lost, and many, many were injured as police and military acted to suppress these movements. So really, what's the difference if you organize a rally that you know damn well will bring out the water cannons and riot squads, and organizing some form of industrial sabotage that may very well result in fewer casualties? The old violence-begets-violence argument is simplistic and is is not borne out by history. It's also so goddam easy to say if you're not the one with a jackboot on your throat. Some of us happen to believe that the forces in this world bent on profit at any cost will eventually kill off the planet. If that scenario can be compared to some group of soldiers coming into your town, rounding up the dissidents and sending them off to concentration camps, then why would you consider blowing up the trucks of the latter and not the former? Maybe to many the comparison is not apt, but to some of us it is.
Rating: +51
Good on them! Talk only makes money for lawyers, and is a hallmark of both the Harper government and the previous federal Liberal government(s). Direct Action is sorely needed - and yes, there will be "casualties".
Rating: +27
Ho-hum, another group of holier than thou deep ecologists prepared to throw a violence filled temper tantrum in order to try and force their vision of the world down the rest of our throats.

These people need to understand that the average person on the street is not willing to give up his or her present lifestyle to fulfill an extreme ideological agenda. They are certainly not willing to give up their present lifestyle to live in the grim little world that followers of Arnie Naess think would be ideal.

But go ahead, do what you're going to do. And then we can be assured of a least a few years where we won't have to listen to this ideological gibberish while these people rot in a jail cell somewhere.
Rating: -39
"Louis Cyphre
Jan 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm
the real problem is that rurals get up to twice the voting power as more educated, culturally superior urban folks"


Our electoral system guarantees that rural ridings have representation. Were it otherwise, the citizens of large cities would steamroll those in the hinterland. Our concerns are not always the same, because daily reality differs. Rural people tend to VALUE the out-of-doors. The wilderness and sea for me are huge factors. I want the natural world to stay healthy, as opposed to being covered over by concrete, pavement or frantically scurrying Nikes. City critters are not better educated, but there do tend to be more jobs in large centres, as well as more money.
Rating: +12
Canadian Xpat
Sadly, these well intended individuals will just play into Harper's hands by turning to violence and will hurt mainstream green and environmental initiatives.
Rating: -14
RK says:
"These people need to understand that the average person on the street is not willing to give up his or her present lifestyle to fulfill an extreme ideological agenda."

True. But the average person really doesn't want change in most movements, whether they be ecological, political, or whatnot. And that includes such notable ones as The American Revolution, The French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and even the present Syrian Revolution and the recent Libyan Revolution. The best the average person might be willing to support is to not inform on the axctivists. But active support for a revolution only happens when it looks as though the revolutionaries are getting the upper hand.
Rating: -4
The best way to change policies is to vote, vote at every election, be it federal, provincial or municipal. Vote for the person that shares your values. Do not vote for a party, but for a person. Every candidate has social media, inform yourself, and than vote. If you do not vote, because the system is dysfunctional, you are behaving childish by pouting. If you do not vote, you cannot complain, because you are part of the problem
Rating: -10
Sabotage is a form of violence that will result in collateral damage, some of which may detract from the cause, and it will inevitably result in violent reaction. Change takes work, and if we're all really serious about making change then we need to do it the only way change has ever taken place - through peaceful protest.
Rating: -25
Daniel Whittingstall
It’s old news that the rain forests are dying, the global temperature is rising, the glaciers are melting, the sea level is rising, our rivers and aquifers are being polluted, 200 species and rising are going extinct every day, and ecosystems around the world are on the brink of collapse...yet every new year, reports come out saying the devastation has been underestimated and is exponentially getting worse.

We know that this vehicle we cling to so desperately is headed for a cliff, yet we defend it as if there was no other way. Industrial civilization cannot exist without destroying its own landbase and the landbases of others, it is based on the assumption of infinite growth on a finite planet. We are essentially captives of a civilizational system that compels us to destroy the earth in order to live this way. If humanity and all other life on earth is to survive then we must move beyond this civilizational system.

The time for action is now. We do not have the next twenty years to lobby our governments or send in letters of concern in hopes that they will make the necessary changes on our behalf's. I doubt there are many who still believe that the purpose of governments, especially ours, would be to protect its people from the destructive paths of corporate powers let alone the environment. In fact, Im sure that most of us have begun to realize quite the opposite.

Those of you who are heartbroken at the destruction left behind by this system, who are tired of being ineffective and frustrated at seeing the same strategies year after year come up fruitless, consider then a strategy that does not compromise with the system. If you have been waiting for a serous, organized, strategic movement, then welcome. We are Deep Green Resistance. Come join the conversation and see what we are really about. Our local chapter for Vancouver can be found on Facebook, or you can email us at:
Rating: +34
123 Fake St.
TGS why would you even give this a voice in your paper. Are you guys going to interview some Anti-Abortion Saboteurs next, oh sorry I mean advocates?
Rating: -36
There are other methods to wage a war/campaign.

For starters, a good media campaign: it's not slander if it's true! Although, the corporate spin doctors are pretty talented, so it's important to cover your tracks.

A legal assault: there are military laws to limit environmental impacts (from Agent Orange days). What's going on now isn't that different, except that motivation is not to kill, it's to make money. Too bad the outcome is the same. Poisoned soil and water.

Political: get that environmental terrorist (Mr. Harper) out of office.
Rating: +17


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