The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
News

'This Is What Healthy Democracy Looks Like'

NDP MLA Fleming's message to Premier Clark joins chorus of protest against Northern Gateway at BC legislature.

By Andrew MacLeod 23 Oct 2012 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative bureau chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

Art Sterritt, the executive director of the Coastal First Nations, addressed the crowd gathered in front of the British Columbia Legislature: "Seven years ago when we began our battle with Enbridge we were standing alone."

Since then First Nations along the proposed northern gateway pipeline have joined the stuggle, as has the Union of B.C. Municipalities, which in his words has repeatedly told Enbridge to "get lost," many provincial politicians and much of the public.

And so on a cool, rainy Monday afternoon, a few thousand people gathered on the legislature lawn and steps to listen to speakers and to engage in calculated civil disobedience described by one host as carrying a "slight" risk of arrest.

With Enbridge appearing intent on building the peipeline from Alberta's tar sands to the B.C. coast, Sterritt asked, "What are you willing to do to stop them? Are you willing to lie down in front of the bulldozers?"

And while it didn't come to that Monday in Victoria -- there were no arrests when protesters drove hundreds of stakes into the lawn to hold a black banner the length of an oil tanker -- it's clear that if the federal regulator approves the project and construction begins, many will be willing to block those bulldozers.

'People speak louder'

A giant puppet of a red salmon provided a backdrop for first nations demonstrators standing on the legislature steps. A person in a raven costume circulated through the crowd spreading a message against coal mining.

Placards in the crowd included: "Bears Need Wild Salmon"; "This Pipe Dream is a Nightmare"; "Moms for our Coast"; "Wake Up Canada, This is Your Coast Too"; "People Speak Louder than Money"; "Fuck your pipeline" and "We Should Live with Love Not with Oil."

Part way through the demonstration, signs saying things like "Our coast is not for sale" were edited in black marker to replace the possessive "our" with "the".

There was also the occasional non sequitur, like "Keep Coal in the Ground" and "Protect the North. Stop Site C Dam."

Speakers hit similar themes, calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and B.C. Premier Christy Clark to stop the project. Most were upbeat.

"We're winning," the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation's Rueben George told the crowd. The opposition to the pipeline needs to come from a place of spirit that values the sacredness of the lands and water, he said. "There's no price we can put down on these things, our earth, our lands, our water," he said.

The people pushing the pipeline are blinded by greed, he said. "We're going to do it for their children too."

Carrier Sekani Tribal Chief Terry Teegee observed, "We made an informed decision we don't want this project six months ago, so why does Enbridge keep coming back? It just baffles me."

A representative of the Lubicon Cree from northern Alberta told how oil spills have changed not just the land but the way of life of her people. "Until my generation my family lived sustainably off the land," she said. Choking back tears, she said, "The land and people will never be the same."

582px version of Enbridge protest
First Nations hoisting a giant salmon helped propel Monday's protest at the BC Legislature. Photo: A. MacLeod.

Investment agreement with China

Politicians in attendance included former federal Liberal environment minister David Anderson, NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, at least a dozen NDP MLAs and BC Green Party Leader Jane Sterk accompanied by star candidate Andrew Weaver.

"You have 100 per cent of the Green Party caucus in Parliament here for the rally," federal Green Party Leader and Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May told the crowd.

She said her party is the only one against fracking, the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline to Burnaby and large oil tanker traffic. She connected the projects to the proposed agreement on investment with China, saying it will make it hard to stop projects like the pipeline without getting sued by state-owned Chinese companies.

"This is what's on the line. Christy Clark, get yourself a lawyer," she said.

BC NDP environment critic Rob Fleming noted that the legislature isn't sitting and that Clark has complained of the "sick culture" in Victoria. "Take a look around," he said. "This is what a healthy democracy looks like."

He criticized the B.C. government for absenting itself from the Enbridge file for two years and for giving up the right to hold its own review of the project, allowing the federal government to take the lead.

"Don't let the last word be Stephen Harper's, because we know where he stands," he said. "We need to hear where you stand, Christy Clark."

Clark also needs to tell Kinder Morgan it won't have the same kind of free ride that Enbridge has had, he said.

Raising the black banner

Tzeporah Berman, an organizer of the Clayoquot blockades in the early 1990s who moved into working with corporations to make change with Forest Ethics and Greenpeace, said her message to Clark is that sometimes it's important to negotiate to mitigate a bad project.

"This is not one of those times," she said.

She said she was happy the NDP are opposing the pipeline, but added, "I'd have been even happier if they'd come out stronger against the Kinder Morgan pipeline."

Communications, Energy and Paperworkers president Dave Coles said the union opposes the pipeline because they are job killers, bad for the environment, bad for the economy and trample First Nations' rights. He compared exporting unrefined bitumen to exporting raw logs, both of which bleed jobs to other places.

Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers' Federation, said, "We're here because we recognize our responsibility as parents and teachers to our kids." Citing Gandhi, Martin Luther King and the Occupy movement, she said, "Peaceful civil disobedience has won many struggles."

During the organizing of the protest, there was disagreement on what form civil disobedience should take. The desire of some to "do something" was up against those who believed that at a time when public opinion and many of the politicians are already against the project, the timing was wrong for any kind of civil disobedience at all.

In the end, protesters erected a black banner the length of an oil tanker. It was supported on wooden stakes, which they hammered into the lawn. The action did contravene the Legislative Precinct Regulation, but was met with ambivalence from police on the scene.  [Tyee]

Read more: Energy, Politics, Environment

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll