Archive for Law

Some Thoughts About Tomorrows Defend Our Coast Action, Victoria BC

Posted in Activism, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Industry, Justice, Law, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2012 by animal_static

Life is busy business when you try to balance school and reality (not synonymous).  It has been a couple of weeks since my last post but there is something interesting happening tomorrow that I have been thinking about a lot lately.  The Defend Our Coast, anti-pipeline event is happening October 22 (tomorrow) in Victoria BC.  Very basically, this is a protest to collectively speak out against the looming Enbridge oil pipeline that is looking to link Alberta oil to the Asian market via a line that will span the province of British Columbia and will see increased tanker traffic in a very fragile and very risky shipping route on our beautiful coast.

Image from rabble.ca

I fully support the anti-pipeline message but do have a few concerns around this particular event.  The most prominent criticism would probably be what comes across as a somewhat Eco-centric (nature centred) standpoint with the bulk of project criticisms revolving around environmental concerns.  Spills, climate change, habitat, forests…all that stuff.  These are obviously valid concerns but, to continue the metaphor, it is unfortunate that crucial social concerns often take a back seat when environmental NGO’s get behind the wheel.  If you are out tomorrow or supporting in spirit or text, please remember the voices that are silenced or under represented in events like this.  If there is any population that will suffer negative effects of industrial expansion, legal reform, or environmental degradation, historical statistics tell that it will be Canadian First Nations before any other.  First Nations communities shoulder the brunt of industrial fallout, feel it first,  and will suffer longer than other groups.  Here is where the silencing aspect comes in.  Critics of this statement will cite first nations involvement in the event and thus claim representation.  This is true but hardly a complete view on the matter.  Engagement of the government in the context of this event is to validate the system producing initial inequalities and therefore inadequate to address the colonial oppression that is embedded in our legal system.  Just a thought.

Also,  there is a LOT of attention around the potential arrest of participants in this event.  My advice is do not get yourself arrested at this event.  I am not against legal defiance of this sort and see the value of the statement that it makes in certain situations but I personally don’t feel that this is one of those occasions.  It needs to be considered that protests on legislature grounds are largely symbolic.  You have a right to peaceful assembly and you can do this at legislature under law but your arrest here will only fatten police coffers.  There are big wheels rolling on this pipeline project and your arrest is hardly likely to sway anyone.  The public already supports you and the government will do what it will do.  The current BC premier is a weak one and the liberal party needs your votes, you can rest assured that she is already listening to you.  Finally,  there is something wicked cooking in Ottawa right now that if passed will render useless any recent anti oil actions.  The upcoming Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) was signed overseas, quietly tabled without a public release and will, if unchallenged, pass into law on Nov 1.  If this happens, the doors will be open for the potential sale of Alberta based, Nexen Oil to the Chinese corp, CNOOC.  The wording of the agreement allows for corporations to take the provincial or federal governments to court should they undertake actions that impede corporate profits.  No pipeline equals loss of profit which equals financial cost to the offending governments which always means that your voice doesn’t matter any longer.  This is really important and very lacking in the language of this event.  Something to think about if you are considering crossing any police lines tomorrow.

Finally, BE AWARE OF YOUR RIGHTS.  Police are manipulative, will take advantage or your ignorance and WILL infringe upon your rights.

You have the right to peaceful assembly.  The legislature is a  public space.  Use it don’t abuse it.

You have the right to remain silent though you do need to identify yourself upon arrest.

You have the right to be free from search and seizure.  If you are not under arrest, committing a crime, or suspected of committing a crime, you do not have to let police search your bags.  They will try to make this seem to be otherwise but this is indeed your right.  Don’t take off your bag, gesture to your bag, or verbally engage in consenting language.  I personally would stick on this one as a matter of principle.  Be polite about this though or you are going to pay for it.  A “f*ck you pig” will result in a breach of peace offense or something worse.

Finally, you do have the right to photograph or record in a public space.  Police will often tell you to stop.  You don’t have to and please don’t.  People needs records of events and misconduct.  That said, if you are in a cops face when they are arresting someone or otherwise trying to perform their duties, you are obstructing.  This will get you into loads of trouble.  Use your head please.

My next entry will regale you with tales of conflict and courage as they unravel under the lens of my trusty camera at tomorrows event which promises to be very exciting.

here is the link to the FIPA (legalese):  http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/fipa-apie/index.aspx?view=d

Defend Our Coast page:  http://defendourcoast.ca/

Comments and sharing are always welcome,

AnimalStatic