In Part I of Line 9 Protests Unmasked we explored the history of direct actions against Enbridge’s pipeline reversal from the original #SwampLine9 protest in 2013 to the most recent occupation of a construction site near Innerkip, Ontario. The protests started off with a bang but quickly faded out as the media and public started to realize the protests were all led by the same group of radical (and some violent) anarchists.
Here in Part II we’ll jump back in time a couple years to an important event held at the University of Toronto on November, 17, 2012. The speakers list at the “Tarsands Come To Toronto” brought together a star-studded lineup of environmental activists who travelled from across the country to discuss ways they can stop the reversal Line 9. Analysing this event not only gives great insight into the networks behind the fight against Line 9, but also provides us with a deeper understanding of their motivations.
One of the more common criticisms about the environmental movement is that many people and organizations motivations aren’t what they look like on the surface. A popular analogy is that of a watermelon- 10% green on the surface (representing environmentalism) with 90% red in the middle (socialism). Adding to that, the dark pits could represent Black Bloc militants.
But how realistic is the watermelon analogy? In today’s story we’ll experiment with some exciting new relationship mapping software to analyse the networks behind the movement. The results are now in and, though they’re exactly what most readers would expect, they’re still fascinating. They also bring up some new questions- for example, what’s Bolivia got to do with it?
Who Organized And Sponsored The Event?
The November 17 meetings were part of a larger event called the Building Bridges Conference. The conference was partly about networking and building relationships, but was also a celebration of the anniversary of their two sponsors- the Ontario Public Interest Group’s chapters at the University of Toronto (OPIRG Toronto) and York University (OPIRG York).
Both organizations are funded by automatically applied fees that most students are either too unmotivated or uninformed to opt-out of. The “PIRGs” are radical anti-capitalists who lean so far to the left one would be hard pressed (outside of a PIRG meeting) to find students whose values are aligned where their money is going.
The event’s co-organizers list includes the following groups:
- Centre for Social Justice: Created in 1997 as an offshoot of the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice.
- Science for Peace: An organization that protests war, conference speaker Judy Deutsch is former president- she and her husband Jim (who once made a fool out of himself covering for Black Bloc anarchists) are fixtures in Toronto’s activist community.
- Common Frontiers: A Toronto based non-profit that “confronts, and proposes an alternative to, the social, environmental and economic effects of economic integration in the Americas”. Theywere represented by conference speaker RaulBurbano, an active member of the city’s anti-capitalist movements. CF works closely with the who’s who of Canadian militant unions including the Steelworkers,Unifor,BCTF,CUPW, CUPE,OSSTF andPSAC.CF helped organize protests during the 2001 Quebec City Summit of The Americas, in what became Canada’s first major Black Bloc incident. In his book Paved With Good Intentions, militant anarchist Dru Oja Jay described CF as being part of the “moderate wing” of the Quebec protests- that said, they’re still working side-by-side with the militants.
- Council of Canadians: A group at the heart of the global anti-capitalist/globalist movement, the CoCs are one of the country’s most prominent enablers of activist violence. Leader Maude Barlow was a keynote speaker. CoC member Bob Ages takes the money for the violent Unist’ot’en camp, and was directly responsible for bringing the Black Bloc into protests against the 2010 Olympics. Green Party leader Elizabeth May has publicly stated that she disagrees with the CoC’s stance on militarism.
- Toronto Bolivia Solidarity: Another ‘action group’ funded by OPIRG Toronto, TBS is curiously at the centre of Toronto’s anti-capitalist community. We’ll dig more into them further down in this article.
The conferences endorser’s list includes a motley crew of militants and anti-capitalists- many directly connected to OPIRG:
- Women’s Coordinating Committee for Free Wallmapu: An anti-capitalist “action group” funded by OPIRG-Toronto.
- April 28 coalition: This group is the perfect example of how activist groups try to make their events look more significant by boosting them with dodgy endorser lists. The April 28 Coalition created specifically for a march in Caledonia in April, 2012, and includes many of other groups listed as endorsers.
- Network for Pan-Afrikan Solidarity: Another OPIRG Toronto funded “action group, their leader Rainos Mutamba was a speaker on a panel about the Global South.
- No One Is Illegal: An anarchist group whose members include some of the country’s most prominent promoters of Black Bloc violence, No One Is Illegal Toronto works with and receives funding through OPIRG Toronto & York.
- International Socialists: A Marxist/Trotskyite political group, the International Socialists are at the heart of Canada’s anti-capitalist movement. Their leader Carolyn Egan (a leader at the Steelworker’s Union) was a speaker at the event, and a major sponsor of Occupy Toronto (run by the same people conducting direct actions against Line 9). Con-artist Kevin Annett was one of their seven original members.
- Toronto Workers Assembly: Describing themselves as as “an ambitious project dedicated to left-regroupment, providing an open space for voices on the left, and developing a radical politics for the 21st Century”. They’re an anti-capitalist organization with close relationships to militant unions.
- KAIROS Toronto: KAIROS is a registered charity that’s currently being audited by the Canadian Revenue Agency for their political activities. The group is led by 10 churches including United, Anglican, Quakers and Mennonites.
If you spent the time reading through this list, you’ll probably recognize a couple of trends here. First, the vast majority of the sponsors are more focussed on anti-capitalist activism than on the environment. Next, many of the sponsors are organizations of little substance or are connected to OPIRG- like many sponsor/organizer lists in the activist industry, there’s a lot of deception.
A Look At The Keynote Speakers:
The conference’s keynote panel was titled “Resistance, solutions and solidarity: Indigenous leaders and
allies”. Speakers included a rogues list of people who promote violence, extortion and hypocrisy:
Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians):
Maude Barlow is the head of the Council of Canadians, and one of the country’s most problematic enablers of activist violence. Barlow is a global leader in the anti-capitalist/globalist movement who’s been at every major protest from the Battle of Seattle to the Toronto G20. She spoke out about the violence in Seattle, but a couple years later at the Quebec City Summit of the Americas, Barlow was deep in the “red zone” (where arrestable actions occur) and promoting the benefits of smashing windows.
On the surface level, Barlow spoke more clearly about her intentions than most Line 9 activists, saying “We have to stop the growth of the pipelines. If we can stop the arteries, we can halt growth of tar sands extraction.” She then threw in some motivation for the potential soldiers in the audience saying “What we do here in the East is for the whole world”. But what she didn’t say is that her primary motivation isn’t about oil- it’s about fighting “market driven neoliberal policy” and replacing capitalism.
Aaron Detlor (Haudenosaunee Development Institute):
Aaron Detlor is a Toronto based indigenous lawyer ( and contributor to the comments section of this website) who represents the radical-led Haudenosaunee Development Institute. The HDI is the perfect example of how Ontario has allowed a gang of anarchist/union allied thugs to terrorize people around the Six Nations. They’re an unofficial ‘development authority’ who charge local developers ‘fees’ to engage in projects near the Six Nations. Developers who decline to pay the ‘fee’ are soon visited by thugs from the Haudenosaunee Land Defenders. Community members have asked where the money they collected went, but HDI hasn’t published their books.
HDI’s tactics were challenged last year when they were taken to court for violating a court injunction banning them from interfering with construction sites. They were issued with a judgement requiring them $375,000 in damages. People named in the suit included Detlor, Hazel Hill, Floyd and Ruby Montour. The latter two people were filmed by Sun News in June 2013 at the #SwampLine9 occupation- including a disturbing moment when Environmental Defence “settler ally” Elysia Petrone told the two native elders to stop talking.
Detlor’s comments included things one would never expect to hear from a lawyer, including what could be interpreted as a threat of (more) violence at the Six Nations:
“Enbridge says they don’t need to talk to us. We are sceptical about a court process. We have our own process… The next step is a cease and desist order from the chiefs.”
Wes Elliott (Haudenosaunee land defender):
Wes Elliott is one of the “land defenders” the HDI sends in when developers refuse to play along in what Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory once called extortion. Elliott is also a member of the Haudenosaunee Men’s Fire, a group who joined anarchists Dave Vasey and Trish Mills in the North Dumfries Line 9 occupation on July 17th. That occupation was short lived, and shut-down with a whimper two days later after people in the Six Nations community asked them to leave.
Elliot’s speech explained how the HDI extorted Samsung when they tired to erect windmills:
“We issued a cease and desist order…. They refused to discuss with us. That night, word went out to our allies. With ten hours notice we had at least a hundred people [on the disputed site], some of whom are in this room. Samsung then negotiated with our Confederacy.”
Vanessa Gray (Aamjiwnaang First Nation):
Vanessa Gray is a professional protester from Aamjiwnaang, an Ontario First Nation where some members are deeply allied with the anarchist community- Line 9 protesters Dave Vasey, Lana Goldberg and Sakura Saunders were in Aamjiwnaang for a 2013 rail blockade. Their comrade Ron Plain was later charged in civil court.
Gray is also the spokesperson for an AstroTurf group called “Sarnia Against Pipelines” that’s focussed on Line 9.
Art Sterritt (Coastal First Nations):
Art Sterritt is the executive director of Coastal First Nations, a Vancouver NGO that’s benefited from millions of dollars of US foundation grants. In the spring of 2014 a Sun News camera crew caught Sterritt driving his shiny new BMW to an anti-oil rally in downtown Vancouver. Yes, believe it or not, there are hypocrites in the Environmental movement.
Sterritt used his time at the microphone to discuss his battle against pipelines on the west coast. At one point me made the dubious claim that “we now have support of 80% to stop Northern Gateway”, and explained how Line 9 protesters will need the same. If what he says is true, the Line 9 movement is certainly doomed- the majority of people in Ontario have never heard of the pipeline before.
The Anarchists In The Room:
It was promised at the beginning of the story that there would be some anarchists. Anyone who has been following the Line 9 protests knows that the street-level direct actions are mostly led by anarchists, and most are connected to Occupy Toronto in one way or another. Three of them presented at the conference:
Dave Vasey is a professional protester, and street-level leader of militant actions in Ontario. Vasey was the leader of Occupy Toronto, and has taken a leadership position in anti Line 9 protests. He was the first person arrested during the G20, but charges were dropped after the Crown claimed to have lost the paperwork.
Vasey has been seen at all major Line 9 protests since #SwampLine9 in 2013. He was arrested at #DamLine9 when he locked himself to a concrete block after police announced Enbridge’s injunction. Vasey was speaking at a session about direct action- arrestable protests like he’s been leading against Line 9.
Sakura Saunders is an American anarchist who now lives in Ontario. Saunders was one of the leaders at Occupy Toronto, leads ProtestBarrick.org, and has been active organizing the People’s Social Forum (which her husband is a paid organizer for). Sakura has worked for several foundation funded NGOs, and refuses to answer if she’s been funded by TIDES. Saunders is a person-of-interest to the Department of Homeland Security and the RCMP.
Saunders led a Line 9 protest press conference in February, 2014 with Grand River Indigenous Solidarity and the Waterloo Region Coalition Against Line 9. She was on-site at he Westover Occupation where she showed up wearing a black mask. Saunders was leading a workshop on talking to the media, with No One Is Illegal’s Syed Hussan- the minutes indicate two people from Environmental Defence joined them (which is curious considering Saunders has been distributing their posters).
Syed Hussan is a Toronto based activist who works with the violence promoting group No One Is Illegal (who are funded through OPRIG York). Hussan was on-site at the Westover occupation, and helped organize “solidarity rallies” in Toronto. He was arrested at the Toronto G20 but charges were dropped after a plea bargain with other defendants.
On the night #DamLine9 was shut down Hussan claimed that the OPP were “zealously going after” the protesters because of a $10,000 donation they received from Enbridge the year before. The truth was that the OPP sat and did nothing until they were forced to by a court injunction.
Other Interesting Characters:
Outside of the keynote speakers and anarchists, the conference offered some other interesting participants:
Ben Powless (Indigenous Environmental Network, Ecology Ottawa):
Ben Powless is the community pipeline organizer for Ecology Ottawa, a non-profit that was exposed earlier this year after promoting pro-violence militants including Harsha Walia of No One Is Illegal and the Unist’ot’en Camp. Powless originally comes from the Six Nations. He also works with Defenders of the Land and the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Powless was arrested during the 2010 G20, and has close relationships with the ringleaders behind the violence. He was a featured speaker at the ringleader’s “jail solidarity” rally- sharing the stage with Naomi Klein and Judy Rebick, He was a speaker at the International Socialists 2012 Marxism conference in Toronto.
Ian Angus (ClimateandCapitalism.com):
Ian Angus is an “ecosocialist” activist, and editor of climateandcapitalism.com, a website that promotes “environmental Marxism”. Angus began his political life with the NDP then fell the slippery slope to joining the Young Socialists, and helping to found the Trotyskyite Revolutionary Worker’s League. He’s written three books including a history of the early years of the Communist Party of Canada, and another on global over-population.
Angus spoke at East End Against Line 9 in April, 2014. He was a speaker at the Toronto Marxism conference in 2012.
Meaghan Daniel (Movement Defence Committee):
Meaghan Daniel has her Master of Laws degree from the University of Victoria specializing in “Indigenous Legal Traditions”, and works as an associate for the legal firm Falconers LLP. Daniel is with the Movement Defence Committee- the group most well known for representing people who were arrested during the Toronto G20. Daniel was an instructor at Occupy Toronto’s activist training weekend in 2012.
The session she facilitated during the meeting was about direct action- tactics where protesters engage in civil disobedience.
John Henhawk (a.k.a. John Henny Jack) is an indigenous activist from the Six Nations. Henhawk has a business degree from Brock University where he was a member of the Aboriginal Student Organization. He now works as the youth coordinator with the Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Network (funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health).
Henhawk is a rapper and works with the militant Haudenosaunee Land Defenders, an organization closely tied to the chaos of the Douglas Creek Estates protest in Caledonia. In 2011 Henhawk got caught up with con-artist Kevin Annett’s fake discovery of a mass grave at the Mohawk Residential School.
During the 2010 Olympics, Henhawk was involved in a Guelph, Ontario protest intended to extinguish the Olympic torch. When asked why he participated Henhawk invoked Godwin’s Law saying “Hitler put
the torch through each territory he conquered.”
What’s Bolivia Got To Do With It?
If you’re observant, you may have already noticed that the primary contact on the poster at the top of this article is an email address for “BoliviaClimateJustice”. The address is used by an OPIRG Toronto funded “action group” called Toronto Bolivia Solidarity, and they’re much more interesting their name indicates they would be.
OPIRG describes the group as being founded “on the initiative of a group of Bolivian Canadians…to spread knowledge in Canada of the democratic transformation underway in Bolivia”. Much of their focus is on climate change and environmental issues.
The interesting part about this group is their connection to the Activistocrat elite. Ryerson University professor (and Occupy Toronto matron) Judy Rebick was a member, as was Line 9 protest (and Occupy) street-level leader Dave Vasey. Many participants of the November 2012 conference have participated in Bolivia Solidarity events including Tara Seucharan (Council of Canadians), Ian Angus (climateandcapitalism.com), Judy Deutsch (Science For Peace) and Raul Burbano (Common Frontiers).
They’re linked with other conference participants including the April 28 Coalition and the Toronto People’s Assembly, and East End Against Line 9. The latter is an AstroTurf community group organized by conference moderator Bryan Dale (Council of Canadians) and has worked with Ben Powless. (We’ll dig more into AstroTurf community groups in a future instalment).
Putting It All Together:
There are a few important things we can learn from the relationship chart:
- The majority of people organizing the fight against Line 9 come from anti-capitalist/globalization groups- few (if any) appear to be primarily motivated by the environment.
- With the exception of Art Sterritt, which has yet to be proved/disproved, the remaining indigenous activists are some of the most radicalised and anarchist embedded in the country. (Observers of these protests should always keep in-mind that their behaviour is in no way representative of the average indigenous person)
- A large percentage of participants in the fight against Line 9 are funded and/or partnered with the “PIRGs”. The money comes out of the pockets of students who are more likely than not to disagree with the group’s radical politics.
- Most of the people and organizations involved in this conference have been around long enough that they’re well aware of Canada’s growing trend of militant activism. The militants aren’t just “showing up” at the “peaceful” group’s meetings and rallies- they’re deeply embedded in the movement.
- It’s kind of creepy how a group created to push the agenda of a foreign country (Bolivia) is actively promoting revolutionaries in Canada.
Stay Tuned For Part III:
The data collected in the relationship chart makes it clear that it’s not unreasonable to use the watermelon analogy- but what about those black pits? We’ll explore another relationship map in Part III that shows the connections between Line 9 protesters and the anarchists who smashed up Toronto during the G20. We’ll also look into another one of those pesky PIRGs- this time at the University of Waterloo.
The relationship chart is a new technology to this site, and charts should improve over time. Please note that you can zoom in/out with your mouse’s scroll, a box will pop-up if you click on a person/organization, and if you hover over one of them it will highlight their relationships. If you’re having problems with the chart, or would like to share your experience with it, please leave a comment.
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