Sub-Mission ….. 2018
Middle Class Citizens vs. the Legal system, the Corporates, and the State!
When you begin to think about rational thought, rational action, and processes that lead to justice, there’s about as much leakage as there is from the most ancient weathered pipelines. The Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby is over sixty years old and has leaked oil and dilbit over the years eighty-three times. It runs through elementary schoolyard playgrounds.
As we live through an historical period that continues to isolate intelligent thought, the mainstream media – because of it’s corporate ownership or government leans (liens) – allows everyone to pretend that the media has no responsibility to participate in contemporary life. The mainstream news is hobbled, ‘asleep’, and ‘afraid’.
Below is my comment to the judge in the Supreme Court of BC. It’s intent was to cite some critical moments in this awkward legal structure. I was arrested May 25th at the Kinder Morgan site at Bayview Drive in Burnaby and appeared in court, pled guilty, and was sentenced in under a week. How efficient! Interesting that my sentence was ten times that of my earlier protester colleagues. Instead of a $500 fine or twenty-five community service hours, I was sentenced to $5000 fine or two hundred and forty hours community service or jail time. If I hadn’t been sick earlier and had a medical test for which I’d waited three months I might have had the earlier sentencing. Interesting. I find it odd that anyone, including our MPs, would contribute to the Crown coffers. Our provincial government is using taxpayer monies to continue the Site C dam project in northern BC. No one should contribute money to these ecological disasters.
Regardless, the issues seem painfully clear in my statement to the judge below (the fore and aft comments to the judge regarding the opportunity to speak related to his earlier denial of the freedom of speech in these proceedings):
Thank you, Your Honour, for the opportunity to speak.
This is a moment in our history when citizen involvement in democratic life engages corporate power and self-interested government incompetence in relationship to the First Nations Peoples of our country. There also seems to be government disinterest in climate change and environmental concerns. We are all environmentalists today whether or not we have children and grandchildren.
It is a time when evidence-based, scientific data indicate clearly that the Tar Sands Bitumen of Alberta must be Left In The Ground. There are viable alternatives.
My actions, and those of all who have resisted the Kinder Morgan proposal for a second pipeline, are an example of citizens who have out-researched the corporations, the governments, and have joined hands with the First Nations People of this province and our country.
To be a citizen is a privilege … to assist corporate welfare and continue government ignorance of the scientific data is unconscionable.
This pipeline will not be built.
I celebrate that our courts of law at least recognize our citizen right to speak.
For that, I thank you.
It’s interesting that the historic concept of Civil Disobedience carries no power or sway in the hallowed halls of our judicial system. To protest and resist injustice is now seen as not only civil contempt of a court injunction but also as criminal contempt! It’s as the though the judge and the crown prosecutors are historically illiterate. Tolstoy, Gandhi, Thoreau, and such celebrated people as Rosa Parks are deemed irrelevant to the modern intelligent consciousness. Why?
In the court, I was the first to be given a harsher sentence. The Crown Council who had actually been extremely helpful to many, read section 52 of the Clayoquot Sound (MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. v. Brown (B.C.C.A.)  decision as precedent:
It must be remembered that custodial sentences were not sprung suddenly upon these Appellants. As I have already mentioned, there were other trials and other unsuspended custodial sentences imposed before these ones, although they were imposed upon persistent offenders. Everyone who deliberately disobeys the law must accept the risk that courts will not continue to impose lenient sentences if they have proved ineffective in preserving the rule of law. [my italics & my underline]
“Persistent Offenders” … Is that what we have become as citizens, as middle class citizens to fit the Prime Ministers ‘favourite Game’? Persistent Offenders who must be deterred! Deterrence! What a powerful concept. Definitionally ‘deterrence’ “is the action of discouraging an action or event through instilling doubt or fear of the consequences”. Why would a legitimate court representing the citizens of the country, not the corporations or the government, want to ‘instil doubt or fear’ in their citizenry? It sounds a bit infantile! Did someone miss the facts that relate to this pipeline debate along the way?
H.L. Mencken certainly understood the playfully serious nature of protesting and resistance:
The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime: he is a good citizen driven to despair.
When we reflect upon the dynamic of the Canadian Government’s now buying a sixty year old pipeline and advocating, on our behalf, a twinned future pipeline in its attempt to avoid either NAFTA or WTO reprisals from Kinder Morgan – a company of ex-Enron executives playing the Trudeau Liberals for chumps; when we reflect upon the Chinese Government’s buying some Syncrude stock under the Harper government’s tenure with the rider that the Bitumen must be brought to the west coast tidewater to be refined in China; when you realize the power the First Nations have brought with their questions regarding unceded lands and lack of appropriate environmental assessment before the courts; and when you recognize that the mainstream media has either reluctantly commented or thoroughly abandoned these perspectives, one begins to comprehend how ignorant or complicit the courts, the judiciary, and the media can be.
It’s simple math: we can burn less than 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all — unless we rise up to stop them.” [350.org]
It’s time that a reckoning on this ridiculous project be brought before the public.
Citizens deserve to know more and to know more explicitly the form and nature of this project. It’s not scientifically justified – the data is clear; it’s not economically justified – this was known before the government’s purchase; and it’s not environmentally justified – if appropriately assessed. Interesting that the assessment never went beyond the Burnaby terminal. What about the Vancouver harbour, Salish Sea and beyond?
If you stand up as a person committed to ‘civil disobedience’ you should expect more. I find it odd that I have been judged as being in contempt of the courts – criminally so. My contempt is for the falsification of this project as presented by governments, the media, and Kinder Morgan. Why would the Canadian public fund this?
wc = 1213
Gordon A. Bailey is a retired sociologist from Capilano University in North Vancouver, BC. He has written books and articles on social theory, ideology, education, and since retiring, a trilogy of eco-detective fiction dealing with pipelines and our previous incipient ‘fascist’ government’s repression of the environment and science. He lives in Victoria, BC. His website is gordonabailey.com He was arrested May 25, 2108 in Burnaby at the Bayview Drive Kinder Morgan site. He was given a sentence of 240 hours of Community Service while on six months probation.