Yesterday, there was no mistaking that there's a rebellious mood in the land.
Spontaneous blockades were popping up in a variety of locations.
The root causes of these actions are deep and complex.
They relate to the history of oppression of Indigenous peoples and a newfound consciousness about the flimsy legal authority of provincial and federal governments in approving industrial projects on unceded traditional territories.
Layered on top of that is grief and anger over missing and murdered Indigenous women—a massacre that a recent national inquiry described as "genocide". Plus, of course, boil-water advisories on reserves that go on for years and years.
That's not all.
There's also a concern that Justin Trudeau's self-government plans could turn proud Indigenous nations into little more than municipalities, which can be controlled indirectly by Ottawa through legislative fiat. To hell with taking a second look at such Eurocentric concepts of the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius.
Then, of course, there's the climate crisis, resulting from out-of-control capitalism.
Anyone who's paying attention to this issue knows that more fossil-fuel projects are not only unnecessary, given the growing affordability of renewable energy, but they're downright dangerous for the future of humanity on Earth.
In addition, there are grave economic problems plaguing the fossil-fuel sector, not the least of which is divestment.
One study suggested that there could be $1 trillion to $4 trillion in stranded assets—i.e., fossil fuels still in the ground and related infrastructure on corporate balance sheets—that cannot be monetized without blowing the Paris Agreement to smithereens, leading to Climate Armageddon.
High-cost energy producers, like Canada, are most vulnerable, according to a paper published in 2018 in Nature Climate Change.
The B.C. NDP government, along with the B.C. Liberal opposition, is betting these experts are wrong.
Both parties applaud Premier John Horgan's decision to proceed with the $10.7-billion Site C hydroelectric dam, which will likely provide electricty to a $40-billion liquefied-natural-gas infrastructure project.
Key questions overlooked
As this saga is unfolding—the most pivotal and most important initiative by this NDP government—Canadian media outlets, for the most part, are sidestepping asking the right questions.
Here are just five:
1. Is it legal for the B.C. government to award permits for a pipeline on unceded Indigenous land?
2. Is there any chance of the $40-billion LNG infrastructure project in B.C. making money, given the declining cost and enhanced storage capacity of renewable electricity?
3. What is B.C.'s finance minister Carole James's justification for forecasting continued increases in natural-gas royalties for the province over the next three years, even as renewables have become so much more competitive?
4. Is B.C. Hydro going to have a hope in hell of repaying the debt for the Site C dam if the LNG Canada plant is cancelled and if renewable energy prices continue falling?
5. What's going to happen to the Canadian dollar if international demand for Canadian energy dissipates—and will this result in higher food prices and financial problems with public pension plans?
That's to say nothing of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs' application for judicial review of the Environmental Assessment Office's approval of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
In the meantime, the B.C. NDP government has come up with an entertaining sideshow to keep the public thinking about another topic: money laundering.
A commission of inquiry headed by a judge and former senior Ministry of Attorney General staffer is hearing from a bunch of witnesses, with their statements being duly noted in the media.
Some media outlets have invested a lot of time and energy in the money-laundering story. There are awards to be won covering this issue. And sensational revelations will no doubt keep the public riveted for a while, keeping the B.C. Liberals on the defensive.
That may further the B.C. NDP's reelection effort.
For those who think governments are invariably corrupt, this inquiry will likely only reinforce those beliefs. And there might even be some good recommendations coming out of it, though I suspect that officials already have a decent grasp on what policies might be worth pursuing.
While this multimillion-dollar extravaganza is taking place, there's also an extinction crisis unfolding all around us.
It's triggered in part by senior governments' policies designed to promote a never-ending global increase in the use of fossil fuels.
The Coastal GasLink pipeline is but one example.
The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is another—its downstream emissions will exceed the entire carbon footprint on an annual basis of everyone and every business operating in British Columbia.
But hey, carbon footprints aren't nearly as much fun to report on as hockey bags full of cash being dropped off at a local casino.
So let the spectacle continue.