Environmental activist Zoe Blunt likes one thing in a national-security document made public today (February 17).
It’s found on page 11 of Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry, where its author, the RCMP’s Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Team, describes the nature of some of the actions it is dealing with.
“Criminal actions mounted by environmental activists are often planned and executed with the intention of NOT inflicting casualties,” states the report dated January 24, 2014, which was obtained by Greenpeace and posted online on DeSmog Canada.
The document, labelled “Canadian eyes only”, goes on: “Activists are focused on delivering a message, while not inflicting physical harm to living entities, or the natural environment.”
That’s important for Blunt, a veteran of anti-logging protests in B.C. and founder of the Vancouver Island-based Forest Action Network.
Even as she emphasized that she and her colleagues are engaged only in legal, peaceful, and nonviolent actions, Blunt indicated that there are those, including herself, who are not going to condemn certain acts deemed criminal in the eye of the law.
“I can’t speak for everyone but I think a lot of us feel a certain sort of fierce pride that, you know, ‘Look at what people are willing to do.’ People are willing to risk their freedom, their safety to defend the land and stop the pipelines,” Blunt told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
“And so you know, I’m glad that the RCMP report notes that these actions are careful not to hurt anyone, that they are targeting property only,” Blunt continued. “And…it’s a powerful symbol to say, ‘We’re going to set fire to that which this culture holds most valuable, which is private property; we’re going to set fire to that.’ It’s a very powerful statement, you know, that is no compromise, that is…‘We will put everything on the line to stop that.’ And I think that’s how we should look at it.”
On page 14, the RCMP report reproduces the January 9, 2014, cover of the Straight. In its appendix E, the report includes the full text of that issue’s cover story, “Activists plot how to block new pipelines in B.C.”, in which Blunt is quoted.
The RCMP report notes that “violent anti-petroleum activists” have engaged in criminal activity in the past, and will continue to do so to promote their beliefs.
The document also states: “These extremists pose a realistic criminal threat to Canada’s petroleum industry, its workers and assets, and to first responders.”
The same RCMP intelligence assessment states that the “most extreme factions use the Internet to promote and instruct on the use of violent criminal techniques, including arson, vandalism and sabotage”.
“Demonstrated criminal activity associated to this extremist faction includes: threats to life and property, improvised explosive devices, arson, vandalism, sabotage, thefts, and break and enters, most notably in New Brunswick, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia,” the paper also says.
For Blunt, violence is a matter of perspective.
According to her, the planned building of new oil and gas pipelines in B.C. and across the Canada poses a different kind of violence.
“The violence is going to be done to the land if these pipelines go through,” Blunt said. “It’s not the kind of scars that can heal. If a pipeline ruptures, that is incredibly destructive. It kills living things. It kills entire ecosystems for generations. There’s no recovery from that.”