On Saturday afternoon I got a tweet from Antonia Zerbisias at the Toronto Star. She and I’ve had a bit of a rivalry over the past year, Antonia got quite upset after I criticized her reckless support of militant activists who promote violence (she got quite nasty in return). So, considering Antonia’s past behavior (and questionable ethics), I figured I was in for a treat.
Meet Daryn Caister and Kevin Farmer, the subject of today’s story. Caister runs a syndicated (on university radio stations) and presumptively named radio show called The Green Majority, Farmer is a regular guest. They used this week’s show to attack my first appearance on Sun News- unfortunately for them, even Sun News has torn apart my work better (Michael Coren makes them look like amateurs).
Their attacks were juvenile and, quite frankly, lame. Let’s hope (for the sake of environmentalism) that these two don’t represent the majority.
On July 29, 2013 I discovered that someone running social media for the Swamp Line 9 protest was promoting a link to an anarchist website where ‘activists’ claimed to have tampered with train lines “in solidarity’ with the Westover pumping station occupation. This was not an isolated incident, people have been promoting the same tactics in other parts of the country (including an executive at the Green Party of Saskatchewan)- these tactics could be very dangerous, people could get killed.
A few days later a train full of oil cars crashed into the town of Lac Megantic- tragically, 47 people died. The Chairman of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway told the media that he thought the accident may have been as a result of tampering. Put into the context of my research into train tampering, this seemed like a distinct possibility. (The engineer has since been charged with criminal negligence.)
I was asked to appear on Ezra Levant’s show because of specialized knowledge on militant environmental and anti-capitalist movements. At no point in the show did either of us state that the accident was a terrorist act. We explored the (known) facts, and looked at other incidents where people have tampered with trains. Of course, Tweedledee and Tweedledum both said the opposite- making the blanket statement we were implying that all environmentalists are terrorists.
It is, of course, a fallacy to imply that all environmentalists are terrorists; anyone who would imply such a thing is as clueless as Caister and Farmer’s broadcast. I’ve never said this, and I’ve not seen any evidence that Ezra has either. But, in the world of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, it appears that twisting the truth is more important than telling it.
Eco-Terrorists Don’t Exist, Really?
The title of Caister and Farmer’s piece was “Terrorism: And other meaningless words”. The basis was that it’s ridiculous to imply that eco-terrorism exists- and that it’s ‘irresponsible’ and ‘possibly dangerous’ to say it does. Oh, really?
Exhibit 1: Wiebo Ludwig
Wiebo Ludwig was the leader of a remote Christian community in Alberta who took on a one-man fight against natural gas pipelines. Claiming that the pipelines poisoned his family, Ludwig responded by vandalizing and blowing-up at least one well. People in the neighborhood were, rightly, frightened by a string of explosions.
Exhibit 2: the Squamish Five
In the early 1980’s a small cell of environmentalists formed in BC with the intention of taking militant actions against organizations they felt were hurting the environment. Like many extremists, the Squamish Five started off with simple acts of vandalism. But, on May 30th, 1982, the group set off a bomb at a BC Hydro substation. Five months later they set-off a bomb at Litton Industries, injuring ten innocent people.
Exhibit 3: Derrick Jensen
Derrick Jensen is a charismatic leader in the environmentalist movement who should scare the crap out of all of us. Jensen openly promotes that people should blow-up dams and other industrial infrastructure- acts that could kill thousands of people. The scariest part is that he has a lot of close followers here in Canada- people like Zoe Blunt in Victoria (who promotes tree spiking, another dangerous tactic) and end-of-the-world oil sands protester Macdonald Stainsby. Jensen has been published by the Sierra Club, and regularly speaks at Canadian events.
Exhibit 4: Ottawa RBC Firebombing
On May 18, 2010 a group of misguided idiots firebombed a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada in Ottawa. They claimed they did this because of RBC’s investment in the oil sands.
Exhibit 5: Elsipogtog Fracking Protests
Last year a group of environmentalists setup camp in New Brunswick to protest shale gas exploration near the Elsipogtog First Nation. They were shut-down after burning down several police cars and threatening people in the media. The RCMP discovered firearms and improvised explosive devices- luckily, nobody was hurt.
But, wait, didn’t Caister and Farmer say that eco-terrorists don’t exist? They didn’t really do their homework, did they? Or, perhaps they did, and they’re trying to pull the wool over their listener’s eyes? Either way, this doesn’t say much about the reliability of their show.
Why Caister, Farmer, Elizabeth May, And Maude Barlow Should Scare You As Much As The Terrorists:
I first saw Daryn Caister last November at 350.org’s Toronto screening of their documentary Do The Math at the Bloor Hot Docs theater. Caister emceed the evening, with special guest Elizabeth May. I went there that evening with the goal of getting May to explain her confusing position on activist violence- she’s said some wacky things, like that the RCMP “planted” the weapons at Elsipogtog, and her strange definition of violence.
May made it very clear to me that evening that she doesn’t support the use of violence. That’s great, but it’s not nearly enough. The problem is that she’s perfectly willing to work with people and organizations that promote violent tactics. Take her relation with Maude Barlow at the Council of Canadians, May knows that Barlow promotes violence, but that doesn’t stop her from working together as allies. Being a politician, it’s no surprise that May is a hypocrite- but, this goes beyond that, her position is dangerous. The CoC’s were a major enabler of the violence during the 2010 Olympics.
The Squamish Five’s case teaches us that terrorism can often start with the ‘little things’, like vandalizing some company’s building. So, when Maude Barlow claims that social change sometimes requires people to break windows, or Elizabeth May says that it’s ‘not violence’ when a group of thugs runs through the city breaking windows (of occupied buildings), they’re both setting very dangerous precedents.It’s the same with Caister and Farmer- their fraudulent (or incredibly uneducated) assertion that eco-terrorism is a “meaningless word” helps to cover-up a very serious issue.
We can’t fix these problems by sweeping them under the rug. Caister and Farmer are idiots if they think they can. Let’s hope that the real majority are smarter (and more honest) than these two- if not, the environmental movement is most certainly screwed…
I have a vague memories of the Squamish Five when they were active, but I do remember that the CBC made a TV movie about their activities, and have viewed at least one documentary on the group. Their real name was “Direct Action” , and in addition to the environmental cause they hate an undying hatred for the Canadian military, hence the Litton bombing since they were a defence contractor. They also had an undying hatred for a chain of Vancouver area video stores called “Red Hot Video” that specialized in renting pornographic movies, so they used to firebomb them. What lead to their undoing was a plot to bomb the Canadian Forces base at Cold Lake, Alberta, I guess an informant tipped of the RCMP who intercepted them before they even crossed the Alberta border. It’s just as well that they did, had they made it to CFB Cold Lake they may have ended up dead whilst trying to infiltrate the base.