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Stop TMX - Pipeline battle heats up

Zain ul-Haq

September 2, 2020

On the 3rd of August, Doctor Tim Takaro, decided to commit an act of civil disobedience and occupy cotton wood trees that were scheduled to be killed for the purpose of expanding the Trans Mountain Pipeline. The professor remained up on what’s now being called the aerial camp for 10 days, after which he was replaced by Kurtis Baute, who remained there for another 7 days during a frightening heat wave. Inspired by this act of civil disobedience, multiple anonymous climbers expressed interest in emulating these actions and helping to stop construction.

The last person to be up was Christine Thuring, who was up for almost 6 days, and the aerial camp is now occupied by an anonymous climber. All of these individuals are risking arrest by using their bodies in order to resist what can only be called the criminal destruction of organized human existence. The construction area has now been occupied by overnight campers and the climbers for a month with only two weeks remaining for Trans Mountain to do construction within the designated window.  So far, the Holmes Creek camp has been an example of how less than 50 well-coordinated individuals can effectively delay a pipeline worth billions of dollars, and in this case, by doing something as simple as camping in the woods.

Attack against press freedom
Big brother has been keeping an eye on this, but is also timid about confrontation—with one exception: the state’s refusal to allow a Danish journalist from entering Canada in order to cover indigenous pipeline resistance. Professor Takaro recalls the story in this video explaining  how Kristian Lindhart was detained for 3 hours upon arrival, then a few more hours  the second day: “someone at border services at YVR, called Ottawa, and then they deported him when his friend was out of the room, getting him coffee.”  Tim also said that “Canadian mainstream print media has not said one word that citizens have been blocking a 20 billion dollars government project…..and I as a science reviewer of the approval process showed that the approval process was rigged...not news...So it’s essential that we have foreign journalists come and report the story…The government deported this journalist under the false pretense that he didn’t have a very well worked-out quarantine plan. And how many journalists have they let in since Covid started... A lot.” This is just as old a story as it is new—the complacency of Canadian journalism is consistent with the failure of most journalists in doing their job of telling the truth about climate change.

CBC reports that the International Federation of Journalists has demanded that Kristian be guaranteed access into Canada and that the Canada border service agency declined to comment on the story.  It should be self-evident that journalism is an essential service; it is of extreme importance that citizens in a democracy know what their government is up to, especially during a crisis, and especially if that government is in the process of constructing a pipeline that will contribute to the death of millions in the future, if climate change is not reversed. 

Needless to say, the burden of proof always falls on those in power and not the other way around. We do not want to live in a society where journalists have to prove the importance of their job and answer questions posed by the state, when in fact it is the job of journalists to ask those questions and demand proof of legitimacy from the state and private concentrations of power; any deviation from the latter should be resisted and fought against.

While Trans Mountain and the state will likely apply for paper duplication and indulge in paper shuffling to clear the forest some other time, the scenes at Holmes Creek camp are quite different. People have been showing resilience during rain and heat waves that get worse and worse by the year, painstakingly pulling out discarded shopping carts and printers from the creek, and engaging in small acts of solidarity, ranging from rallies to bringing coffee for the occupants of the camp. The aerial camp and the support camp need to be seen as more than an effort to block construction at a site, but as a symbol for resistance to capitalism and state terror in all its forms, and most importantly as an effort to save civilization. It is a clear message that whenever destructive and undemocratic projects are going to be constructed, there will always be people, however few in number, who will stop at nothing to oppose it, while remaining non-violent.

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Embedded Video: 
Christine Thuring and Tim Takaro talk about civil disobedience to stop Trudeau’s TransMountain pipeline expansion.

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