The Spring session opening of the Alberta legislature brought a new round in the wrestling match but British Columbia is where most the action is. Here are vignettes from the front:
- On March 8th the BC Supreme Court granted an injunction to TransMountain but allowed the protestors considerable latitude to peacefully protest
- On March 10th a demonstration of more 5,000 people showed up in Burnaby against the pipeline. It was a lovely warm day for a protest. They were led by an Indian Chief and supported some by some of this colleagues from the Standing Rock protest movement
- And in downtown Vancouver, a counter protest of about 200 people met in a pro-pipeline demonstration
- On St Patrick’s Day, 28 protesters were carted away by police when they tied themselves to the TransMountain terminal gate. The communication person for 350.org says demonstrations are planned for every day for the next week that will include Indians, politicians and celebrities. The hope is to disrupt the tree cutting activities until the birds return to nest in the trees.
- It is getting a bit goofy:
- One senior lady sat in her lawn chair in the middle of the road until the cops arrested her for obstructing traffic.
- Another woman told the cops after she chained herself to some equipment, that she was there for the long haul and it wasn’t the first time she had peed her pants while protesting.
- And a 70-year-old guy from Ontario strung up a hammock in the trees, intent on living there for a few days on granola bars. The RCMP took him into custody before he could enact his grand plan.
- The Governor of Washington State says his state supports BC Premier’s stand against the pipeline. Odd…. don’t tankers bring Alaskan crude to his refineries? Doesn’t TransMoutain carry crude to his refineries?
- And 30 kayakers spent a couple of fun hours paddling around the Seattle harbour blocking a Kinder Morgan terminal and documenting their resistance on social media.
- National newspapers have picked up on the story of how much cash left wing foundations based in the US, are flowing into the anti oilsands efforts in BC. According to a blogger who monitors their federal tax returns some $47 million has been sent to Canadian groups to fund their resistance.
- In the meantime, gas prices in the mainland spiked to $1.50 a liter. Conspiracy theories were developed; but it turned out that it was a maintenance shut down at the Burnaby refinery that caused a shortage. Gas was brought in by tanker from San Francisco to offset the shortage.
Hostilities continued east of the Rockies too:
- The Alberta Legislature voted unanimously to support the pipeline. Jason Kenney kept trying to elbow Premier Notley aside as the pipeline champion. He complains that she is stealing his ideas about turning off the tap. Premier Notley sensing he is breathing down her neck, has started whispering that she is worried the feds might lose their nerve. Her Economic Development Minister called the BC NDP ‘Shitheads’ in a public meeting.
- A picture of empty Domino’s pizza boxes at a protest site started the Great Domino’s Pizza Boycott. Someone in Grande Prairie thought they were getting free pizza and took a twitter fit. Well it turned out the Pizza had been duly paid for and Domino’s wasn’t taking sides in the dispute. The war ended with an apology.
Stuck In the Middle
The federal government has been trying to keep this battle from escalating to the point where they lose some of the seats they hold in Parliament next election.
- So Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna showed up in BC to say tanker traffic would be safer than ever in the future. She talked about the new $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan
- Marc Garneau, Transport Minister came west to dispense some cash to protect killers whales and clean up derelict boats.
- Jim Carr stayed in Ottawa but continued to say the pipeline would be built.
- The Prime Minister was busy changing the channel to talk about how he supported steel workers. (no word yet if he also supports oil workers).
Severely Normal Albertans should not expect the federal government to move out of ‘stealth mode’ anytime soon. The next step to watch for is the court decision launched by numerous indigenous and environmental groups. By the way, recent polls showed that BC folks are quite split about what they think about the pipeline.