New climate for direct action developing in Canada and U.S.

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      Talk of direct action puts some people into a tizzy. They conjure up images of masked vandals rampaging through the streets, breaking storefront windows, and hurling firebombs at police cars.

      Nonetheless, with a growing sense of urgency about climate change and rising frustration that energy corporations and governments don’t care about the planet, there’s bound to be more actual direct action than talk.

      “When corporations aren’t listening to the people, when governments aren’t listening to the people, we have to put matters back into our own hands,” Maryam Adrangi told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      Adrangi is a member of Rising Tide: Vancouver Coast Salish Territories, a group organizing a direct-action training session this Thursday (March 28). According to Rising Tide’s website, topics to be discussed from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Burnaby Public Library’s McGill branch (4595 Albert Street) include “simple techniques for holding space”, “diversity of tactics”, and the difference between “passive” and “active” resistance.

      American academic Sean Parson observes that environmental and Native groups are increasingly being pushed toward extralegal protest actions. This comes as a response to the determined drive by governments and corporations in North America to exploit fossil-fuel reserves, including the tar sands in Alberta and natural gas in B.C.

      “It shows how serious the issue of climate change is,” Parson told the Straight by phone, “It shows the failure of the current political environment, the failure of the market, and the turn towards more radical activism.”

      The Northern Arizona University associate professor of politics and international affairs also sees stronger “cross-national solidarity” among groups in the U.S. and Canada. The opposition to the planned Keystone XL pipeline that would bring Canadian bitumen to Texas oil refineries could be a focal point.

      “I believe that we’re going to see a pretty strong move toward things like direct action and civil disobedience,” Parson said. He explained that the line between direct action and civil disobedience is often blurry because they “blend” together. According to him, civil disobedience is simply nonviolent direct action.

      Langara College’s Peter Prontzos notes that for many people concerned about the planet’s continuing reliance on fossil fuels and its impact on global warming, time is running out.

      “There’s a feeling that we have to do something now, and that might include…extending that to civil disobedience,” Prontzos, a political-science instructor, told the Straight by phone.

      Over in Ottawa, Sierra Club Canada appears on the verge of turning its back on its long-standing tradition of not engaging in civil disobedience. In January, the 50-year-old environmental group announced that it was assessing its rules regarding civil disobedience following a move by the Sierra Club in the U.S. to go this route.

      While Sierra Club Canada executive director John Bennett stressed that he has nothing new to report, it isn’t because the group is dragging its feet. It’s just that the group hasn’t received any requests to participate in a particular action, so it hasn’t made a decision yet, according to him.

      “Why should we stand by and say, ‘This is fine. We’ll go and wait four years for the next election’? ” Bennett told the Straight by phone, about the urgency of action on climate change.

      “We’ve been through five, six, 10 [federal] elections since this has been up,” Bennett continued. “And it doesn’t seem to make any difference which party wins. There’s no action. And they’ve decided to abandon science as the basis of environmental protection, and that basically violates the rights of future generations.”

      On Saturday (March 30), Rising Tide will participate in a “day of action” The protest is being held in opposition to the Pacific Trail Pipelines project. This would see natural gas produced through fracking carried by a 463-kilometre pipeline from Summit Lake, north of Prince George, to a plant in Kitimat.




      Mar 28, 2013 at 10:14am

      Direct action is the only thing that works.


      Mar 28, 2013 at 10:56am

      Unless there are nativs in your demonstration your gang will be moved on or arrested,as you should be.
      What gives you and your friends the right to say all Canadians want change.
      and may i point out that climat change (weather) is still a model used by scientists to predict the POSSIBLE future and is by no means Hard fact,Models have been proven WRONG 99% of the time .
      When has the weather man ever forcasted 3 days ahead and been right ?
      So how are your people going to get to your protest sites ?
      And if this sierra club action has been wating for 4 elections, about 16 to 20 some years we still havnt seen the world come to an end.And beside sticking your nose into canadian matters why dont you work on your own back yard USA as they pollut 27% compared to our 2 and a halve%
      why are these do gooders not going to China,Mexico,Packistan,and even the USA as we are all on this globe together? maybe its because they would be arrested ,
      Suzuki and Gore foundation is in this to make mony ,as their prdictions have all been wrong .The world is still here and no ice age or heat wave has boiled us.
      And let me tell you you do not speak for all of Canadians,only those that were scared of the 2000 caper and the MAYAN SCARE neither came true.
      Wake up without oil and big business Canada would be a third world and you would be out of a job.

      Da spike

      Mar 28, 2013 at 1:31pm

      once again PJ you spew derision--just because you do well in a greedy capitalistic oligarchy does not mean it is good for everyone- human rights are meaningless in a world full of greedy investors and corporations


      Mar 28, 2013 at 1:31pm

      I see by your poll a few kids belive in direct action.Why is that? maybe get a job.o ya you might work for big oil .as 80% of jobs in Canada are related to oil and other fuels.
      The suzukis were wrong the world is still here and will be for a long time,as it has lasted for millions of years ,and now us little ants in the realm of things are going to damage it.Give your heads a shake ,I havnt seen any out of the ordinary weather change.
      Kids grow up and do something useful with your life.


      Mar 28, 2013 at 1:38pm

      frances, yes, in these days we have to use all type of actions, direct and indirect, above and underground.. try it all, keep the spirit up, strength :)

      Keystone Kops

      Mar 28, 2013 at 2:17pm

      When it comes to Enbridge , direct action, yes, they've proved over and over that they're incompetent, US Regulators calling them Keystone Kops after they destroyed the Kalamazoo.
      These guys couldn't even keep a toilet clean never mind be trusted with the Pacific Ocean.
      Massive Opposition in BC, probably ending in bloodshed, if Enbridge starts digging here.


      Mar 28, 2013 at 2:29pm

      The only direct action I support is for all the hypocrites to stop heating their homes with gas, stop driving, stop flying, stop using gas stoves, stop using oil to lube their bike chains, stop buying or consuming any product anywhere at anytime that uses fossil fuels in its production and shipping, ever. Even "organic" farmers truck and/or drive their produce to the farmers market, so boycott them too. Also, stop watching the Canucks while you're at it because they fly in jets to their games.

      Da spike

      Mar 28, 2013 at 2:39pm

      Yah Pete lie a little harder

      80% what a joke you must be trollin'

      Bruce Dean

      Mar 28, 2013 at 3:52pm

      H, E, double toothpicks, no!

      Let's have another ignored peaceful protest,

      ...and another ignored peaceful protest,

      ...and another ignored peaceful protest,

      ...and another ignored peaceful protest,

      ...and another ignored peaceful protest,

      ...and another ignored peaceful protest,

      ...and another ignored peaceful protest...


      Mar 28, 2013 at 4:59pm

      PJ says: "What gives you and your friends the right to say all Canadians want change."

      2/3 of the inhabitants of the 13 colonies did not want to leave the British Empire. But the few troublemakers (patriots to some, rebels to others) forced an independence on what we now call the United States.

      Change is coming. WQhat form it takes is anyone's guess. But the status quo is unsustainable.