Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Extinction Rebellion Ottawa marched through the city Friday in support of the Wet'suwet’en Nation. (Photo: @XROttawa/Twitter)

Extinction Rebellion Ottawa marched through the city Friday in support of the Wet'suwet’en Nation. (Photo: @XROttawa/Twitter)

Jason Kenney Treated with Kid-Gloves, Indigenous Protestors with Assault Rifles

The hardball tactics are alarming

Linda McQuaig

 by Toronto Star

I want to start by turning myself into Jason Kenney’s investigators.

I admit to being against further oilsands development, making me a person of interest to the sleuths in Kenney’s $30-million “war-room” who are tasked with vilifying oilsands critics. Of course, they’re really hoping to unmask “foreign-funded special interests,” and I don’t have a single dollar of foreign backing. Still, I do what I can!

The war room is just one of the Alberta premier’s bullying tactics, along with threatening Western separation, as he tries to intimidate critics and pressure the Trudeau government into approving the proposed Teck mine, a vast 293-square-kilometer open-pit mine, which would be the biggest tarsands mine yet.

 

Given that such an approval would hopelessly compromise any Canadian effort to battle climate change — which, let’s not forget, threatens the world including us here in Canada — the answer must clearly be no. In the election last fall, two-thirds of the country voted for parties that advocated strong action on climate change.

The fact that this is seen as a difficult decision reveals the Trudeau government’s keenness to be accommodating when dealing with opposition, which is coming from the right and backed by powerful business interests.

Meanwhile, there’s a willingness to play hardball when opposition is coming from Indigenous people and powerful business interests are against them.

These hardball tactics have been on display in northwestern B.C. in recent weeks as Wet’suwet’en Indigenous protestors, trying to block a pipeline from crossing their land, have been confronted with highly militarized RCMP officers dressed in combat fatigues, bearing assault rifles and police dogs.

 

Chainsawing through a gate marked “Reconciliation,” the RCMP have forcibly removed the occupiers — that is, people occupying their own land — amid prayers for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, sparking nationwide protests. Most of the media attention has focused on how disruptive the protests have been to southern train travel.

But the hardball tactics are alarming. The RCMP were prepared to shoot the Indigenous protestors, according to a report last December in the U.K. Guardian. Documents cited in the article show that RCMP commanders argued that “lethal overwatch is req’d” — a term for deploying an officer able to use lethal force.

What makes the strong-armed clampdown so outrageous is that the natural gas pipeline, approved by the B.C. government and enforced by a court injunction, is to be built across land that has never been ceded. A 1997 Supreme Court of Canada decision ruled the title was held by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

Indigenous people have long been on the receiving end of strong-arm police tactics ordered by Canada’s federal and provincial governments, particularly when they stood in the way of colonial settlement or resource extraction. From the late 1800s, Indigenous people were forcibly relocated to reserves, with their children sent to now-notorious residential schools.

In recent years, Canada has extended the national security apparatus to prevent protestors — often Indigenous people protecting their lands — from interfering with oil and gas developments.

 

 

Casting such protestors as terrorists, Stephen Harper’s government — with qualified support from Justin Trudeau’s Liberals — passed the 2015 Anti-Terrorism Act, which authorized police surveillance and arrest powers against those interfering with “critical infrastructure.”


© 2020 TheStar.com
Linda McQuaig

Linda McQuaig

Linda McQuaig is an author, journalist, and former NDP candidate for Toronto Centre in the Canadian federal election. She is also the author of "The Sport and Prey of Capitalists: How the Rich Are Stealing Canada's Public Wealth" (2019), "War, Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet: It's the Crude, Dude" (2006) and  (with Neil Brooks) of "Billionaires’ Ball: Gluttony and Hubris in an Age of Epic Inequality" (2012).

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·


'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo