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Behest of the West: Coast prepares for a pipeline fight

Clayoquot Action already has workshops set up to teach locals about peaceful disruption.

Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan on Tuesday, the only paved road between us and the rest of the Island collapsed on Friday and it snowed on Sunday.

If just one of those things had happened, it would have been a heck of a week. I was in Victoria when I heard a sinkhole had opened up on the highway I’d rode a bus over hours before. I’ve said a lot of mean things about that road but ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.’ I’d traveled solo and being separated from my kids, and more importantly my dog, by a closed highway was terrifying.

We might want to start whining more loudly about the shape that road’s in. The trucks that bring us the things we need aren’t built for logging roads and Christy Clark gets good at spending whenever she has an election to win.

The road reopened by the time I traveled back home on Sunday, but that evening’s snow served as a solid reminder that nothing’s ever back to normal.

Justin Trudeau, a Liberal who calls himself a grandson of B.C., says the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion is going to happen. Rona Ambrose, a Conservative from Alberta, says it’s not. Seems a bit backwards.

“[Trudeau] needs to use his political capital to see this project built and I don’t think he has enough of it,” Ambrose said after the PM’s announcement. “The protests will ensue. The fight is on.”

Hey, West Coast, she’s talking about us.  She’s right too. Clayoquot Action already has workshops set up to teach locals about peaceful disruption.

“We proved in the 1990s that large numbers of people can successfully resist ecological destruction using nonviolent resistance”, said the group’s campaigns director Bonny Glambeck. “No doubt this tactic will be used again to stop Kinder Morgan, and training is essential so people know how to de-escalate tension when emotions run high.”

The Friends of Clayoquot Sound are rallying as well. “The strategies of movement building and peaceful direct action, that we utilized in the massive Clayoquot protests, will help to ensure the Kinder Morgan pipeline is never built,” said Friends campaigner Jeh Custerra.

I get the romance of the Clayoquot Summer reference but this isn’t that. The logging jobs those protestors destroyed were our own. The winners of 1993 are the ones whose stories are told but the losers were locals too. That was a brutal us-versus-us, Coast-eat-Coast, fight but the jobs aren’t ours this time. Protesting this expansion doesn’t mean protesting our neighbours’ paycheques. We won’t be driving the tankers traveling 50 kilometres off our Coast and, for reasons that can only be attributed to governmental nonsense, we’re not in the spill response zone. The West Coast is, or at least should be, together on this. We’ve seen a spill response before and know how pathetic they can be.

In 1989 an oil spill hit Long Beach. A barge, the Nestucca, crashed into its tugboat off Oregon’s coast. It was devastating and disgusting and, just like anything that washes up on our shores and pollutes our ecosystems today, it was left for volunteers to clean up.

“The various levels of government began to bicker over who was responsible for the cleaning up the mess, but they couldn’t reach agreement” Glambeck said. “Meanwhile fresh oil was coating the beach with each high tide, so locals had to put on their rain gear and pick up the oil by hand.”

The Kinder Morgan expansion isn’t going to happen. First Nations weren’t meaningfully consulted. It’ll die in the courts before any protestors have a chance to get arrested for the cause, though Elizabeth May might demand to be regardless.  But, if the world gets weird and it actually reaches something resembling fruition, let’s bring the fight Ambrose said we would.

 

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