Last December when a joint review panel recommended that the government approves Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project, it didn’t take long for the activist community to declare war; promising a long hot summer of protests, blockades, and (potentially) sabotage and violence. Ben West of Forest Ethics encapsulated the mood well, telling the CBC:
“If these pipelines are pushed through, this could make Clayoquot Sound look like a walk in the park.”
Clayoquot Sound is a remote area of mid-western Vancouver Island that, back in the 90’s, became the site for the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Thousands of people gathered to protest MacMillan Bloedel’s logging activities, many were peaceful, but there were some who came to engage in more militant activities like spiking trees and getting aggressive with the police (an activity much beloved by the anarchist contingents).
So, when and where will see the next Clayoquot? As always, the best way to figure it out is to follow the money…
Introduction To The Unist’ot’en Camp:
The Unist’ot’en Camp is a small piece of Crown land near Smithers, BC that’s been occupied by anti-pipeline activists. People running the camp claim it’s placed at a critical junction for a host of planned pipelines- and that it’s their intention to take whatever action necessary to stop the pipelines from being built.
The two key front people for the camp are indigenous activists Freida Hudson and Dini Ze Toghestiy who come from the Wet’suwet’en, but are not official representatives of their community at-large. Standing behind these two “in solidarity” are a host of NGOs, unions, militant anarchists and professional protesters- including some of the key players who’ve helped promote activist violence since the 2001 Quebec City Summit of the Americas.
Enter The Council of Canadians:
Regular readers of this site will already be familiar with the Council of Canadians’ close relationship with activist violence. Their leader Maude Barlow said at the Summit of the Americas that breaking windows is “sometimes necessary to exercise the right of free speech”. It was exposed on this site in 2012 how the CoC’s took a key role to converging non-violent protesters with the Black Bloc vandals who used them as cover to smash windows and fight with the police at the 2010 Olympics.
The man who brought the anti-Olympic convergence together was Robert (Bob) Ages of the CoC’s Richmond, BC branch. Ages also took a leadership role at Occupy Vancouver; organizing, speaking, guiding the ‘right people’ to the media, and managing the money. It was that latter activity where Ages got into some trouble- 10’s of thousands of dollars flowed into Occupy, but Ages continually refused to disclose the books (Occupy Edmonton & Toronto faced similar issues).
Knowing this, it’s both surprising and not at all a surprise to see that Ages is handling the money for the Unist’ot’en Camp’s new fundraiser. Their plan is to build a $20,000 structure on the Crown land they’re occupying- they’re calling it the “Warrior-Up Bunkhouse”. They’ll build the structure with a “volunteer group including carpenters and helpers from both Galiano Island and the mainland has come together to answer the call”.
Ages isn’t just acting on his own here, the Council of Canadians has officially sponsored the camp. The endorsement on their website from April 10th of this year proudly features CoC employee Harjap Grewal and his wife Harsha Walia of No One Is Illegal. Grewal and Walia are two of Canada’s most prominent promoters of activist violence; this site has shared Walia’s infamous video promoting violence many times (with NDP MP Libby Davies in the audience)- Grewal takes things further by trying to twist the story of Gandhi’s non-violence:
The clips after Grewal’s rewriting of history come from the Native Youth Movement, a group Grewal used to take the money for. If you watched the video, you probably noticed lines like “take back the land, kill the white man”- one constant with Grewal and Walia is that much of their agitation focuses on race.
Zoe Blunt And The Forest Action Network:
There’s no use having a bunkhouse if there aren’t any troops to fill it with. Indications are that there’s not an enormous amount of local support for the camp; so the protesters have come up with a plan to bus people in. The campaign is led by Forest Action Network, a Victoria, BC based NGO that’s worked with the Dogwood Initiative and West Coast Environmental Law (a charity whose status is currently being audited by Revenue Canada). FAN has also received funding from the TIDES Foundation.
FAN is led by Tracie Marie Park (a.k.a. Zoe Blunt), an American anarchist associated Earth First! and Derrick Jensen’s Deep Green Resistance movement- the former (who invented the ‘action camp’) has members who’ve been convicted for terrorist offences; the latter advocates blowing up dams in the name of saving the environment (while twisting Gandhi, like Harjap Grewal):
Blunt’s campaign hasn’t been as successful as Bob Ages’ was, raising only $1,470 out of her $5,000 goal.
Is It Always The Same People, Or Just Another Flook?
No militant protest would be complete without the participation of one of the elite group of activists (often called Activistocrats) with the Love Is The Movement tattoo. In this case we have Taylor Flook, formerly one of the leaders behind Occupy Toronto- she’s also a regular at Toronto’s anti-police marches. Flook is in the process of raising $2,000 to pay for her trip up to the camp. The way she describes her motives is quite telling:
“Something is getting ready to happen in British Colombia and i feel called to go to my place of birth to help. And im [sic] scared. Im [sic] scared because the Canadain [sic] government continues to criminalize peaceful resistance to unwanted development. Im [sic] scared my friends and allies and myself are facing potential violence and criminalization for standing up for the land.”
So, even before she talks about the environment, Flook tells us her first fear is that the police will enforce the law. Flook’s story makes the false implication that it wasn’t already criminal to squat and build structures on Crown land- we all know it’s an illegal protest, that’s the point, isn’t it? These kinds of statements serve two important purposes; the first is to help agitate their recruits and get them ready for a good fight, the other is to weaken the police (and the province’s) ability to react by painting them as violent aggressors (we’ll talk about this more in a moment).
Is The Province Planning An Injunction, Or Is This More Anarchist Trickery?
Freida Hudson and Dini Ze Toghestiy held a special press conference on April 7th, proclaiming they’ve been privy to ‘leaked information’ that the province is preparing to ask for an injunction. But, no evidence was provided to back this claim, and most of the media appears to have ignored it. The only article that featured it was written by Eric Doherty on the Media Co-Op; the former is a guy who worships the Zapatistas, the later is a publication that’s known to print outright lies.
Besides Hudson, the person next most quoted person in the media has been Zoe Blunt. Using the Forest Action Network’s banner Blunt issued a press release calling Unist’ot’en a “David and Goliath” battle and declaring that “we have lawyers, and we’re ready to fight”. They also have some of the country’s most alarming promoters of violence.
Curiously, Blunt categorized her press release under “Labour/Trade Unions” (but not so curious knowing the CoC’s sponsors are militant unions):
The problem with Zoe Blunt is that (like the Media Co-Op) she’s also known to tell outright lies, it’s a problem many have faced with her. Take, for example, the mysterious ‘sacred’ cave story she promoted while fighting Langford, BC’s Bear Mountain resort- archaeologists found nothing. More recently, Blunt tweeted out that she had won a court case where no judgement has actually been made yet.
Why would they want to lie about an injunction? One motivation could be that they need a more effective rallying cry to encourage people to come to the camp- impending doom always works well for that purpose. It could also be a way to build sympathy for if/when the province comes after the camp for their new structure. That said, they could be telling the truth.
Piecing Together The Relationships:
Suzanne Patles and Coady Stevens of the Mik’maq Warrior Society traveled from New Brunswick to the Unist’ot’en camp this winter. The picture posted on Bob Ages’ fundraiser shows him there beside them. The Mik’maq fracking protests, you may remember, featured people setting police cars on fire- and protesters who brought guns and explosives.
Like Flook, the Council of Canadians helped to spread pre-injunction FUD in New Brunswick, partnering with the Sierra Club to write a press release complaining that people who were obviously cop-baiting were being horribly oppressed by the RCMP. The CoCs removed the press release from their website shortly after this site exposed the outrageousness of their fraudulent claims.
One of the more interesting things the above chart shows is that there’s a very clear commonality between the three people taking the money- they’re all Occupy connected, white, “settler allies” who are deeply engaged in the union/NGO activist industrial complex. History tells us that this may not work out well for the indigenous activists who are supposedly leading the camp- Idle No More’s founders learned this the hard way.
A Quick Risk Assessment:
Despite many of their supporter’s claims that Unist’ot’en is non-violent, their behavior indicates the exact opposite. Their own videos show them stopping surveyors, threatening to ‘confiscate’ (steal) their equipment, and warning them- implying violence on their return (while handing them an eagle feather).
The presence of Grewal, Walia, Ages and Blunt leaves little doubt that the camp has the potential to see violence- it also pretty much guarantees there’ll be a lot of focus on baiting and provoking the RCMP. One advantage they’ll have over the Mik’maq protests is that they’re in an extremely remote area- the logistics of bringing in the police will be extremely challenging. It will also be very expensive- the question is, who’s going to pay for it? (Blunt likes to boast her work is essentially economic sabotage.)
NGOs Behaving Badly:
One of the key differences between the Council of Canadian’s activities around the Mik’maq fracking protests and the Unist’ot’en Camp is that, at the former, we didn’t have evidence of their managing funds intended for illegal activities. In this case we do, the evidence is pretty damning, and we can only hope that CSIS and the RCMP have their act together and are on-top of things.
But, of course, it’s a bit more difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs these days. NGO aligned publications like Vancouver Observer are publishing deceptive scare stories about CSIS and RCMP spying. Like Flook’s premonitions of police violence, and the CoC’s deceptive stories about Mik’Maq arrests, it’s all the same tactic- tell a big enough lie long enough and people will believe it…