The battle against Enbridge reversing the flow of their Line 9 pipeline seemed destined for failure since the beginning. Line 9 was previously used to carry oil from east-to-west, carrying oil imported into Canadian refineries, the reversal will enable Enbridge to deliver Canadian oil to those refineries instead. The project made sense to most people- even the new militant union Unifor, a vocal opponent to most pipelines, agreed with it.
The anarchist’s first occupation of Enbridge’s Westover, Ontario pumping station appeared successful at first- but a law enforcement expert commented to me shortly after the arrests that they were surprised how little momentum the protesters gained. As each successive protest passed it became more obvious how little support the activists actually had. The biggest surprise came when the protesters setup a July occupation on land claimed by the Six Nations- curiously, community leaders asked them to shut it down and leave.
The battle against Line 9 is not a popular grassroots movement; it’s unions, ENGOs and AstroTurf community groups recycling the same protesters we see at every protest- G20, Occupy Toronto, Stop The Cuts, Idle No More, Peoples Climate March, and [Insert Next Big protest]. We also see the same politicians. Today’s story will explore how four city councillors are listed as endorsers on an incredibly dodgy white paper featuring some of Toronto’s most racist, anti-social, and disrespectful protesters. But, more important, how the paper councillors Mike Layton, Josh Matlow, Paula Fletcher and Janet Davis’ names are on is an insult to indigenous communities across the province.
Charting The Document’s Contributors:
The interactive chart accompanying this article explores both contributors/sponsors to the document, and people/organizations in their extended networks. There are some interesting links to be discovered, like how two of expelled University of Ottawa professor Dennis Rancourt protégé have taken leadership positions at Environmental Defence; and Kevin Annett’s connection to Rancourt, Line 9 protester Dan Kellar’s too. You’ll probably also notice the large number of university student funded “PIRGS” involved…
It’s very simple to use:
- If you hover over a person/organization on the chart you will see their individual networks
- Click a person or group’s picture for personal information and a supporting web link.
- If you click on the line between two icons you’ll see a description of their relationship and another supporting link.
- You can zoom-in or zoom-out using the scrollwheel on your mouse, or the +/- buttons on the top-right
Who Wrote The White Paper?
- 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- he’s currently facing criminal charges. Vasey works closely with the convicted ringleaders of the G20 including the notorious Alex Hundert. Sources in law enforcement claim Vasey is a person of interest.
- 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, but refuses to answer if she’s been funded by TIDES. Saunders is militant, and considered a person of interest by law enforcement including the RCMP and Homeland Security.
- John Sharkey is a regular on the Toronto protest circuit. He’s associated with the Greater Toronto Worker’s Assembly, and the Toronto Bolivia Solidarity Network (the main sponsor of the NGO/union planning meeting that launched the battle against Line 9. Sharkey is part of the AstroTurf group East End Against Line 9), similar to his participation in the 2012 Stop The Cuts campaign where he led East Enders For Public Services (Vasey & Saunders also took leadership during Stop The Cuts).
- Lukas Vos is a Dutchman who now lives in Canada. He’s a musician, and has been an activist for Earthroots, an ENGO once led by city councillor Josh Matlow.
- Sonia Grant is an activist from Nova Scotia. She’s worked with the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, and was a delegate to COP17 with the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition where she was accompanied by activist superstar Brigette DePape. Grant is currently part of Rising Tide Toronto, and has contributed to a newly released book called “A Line In The Tar Sands”, a book including many of the participants in this story- Naomi Klein, Hollyhock founder Rex Weyler (a man who lied about being a Pulitzer nominee), Dave Vasey, and Macdonald Stainsby.
- Andrea Peloso is an activist with the radical protest group Code Pink Toronto. When not protesting, she works as a yoga instructor. Smith was a participant in the G20, where she was outspoken about the large number of arrests.
- Erin Pope was a writer of the document. She has connections with the Greater Toronto Worker’s Assembly, and has worked with activists including Taylor Flook, Brett Rhyno and Lukas Vos.
Why Is the Paper Dodgy?
There’s a craftiness to the document, its cover and design are almost an exact copy of Endbridge’s paper promoting the pipeline. The one difference on the cover is that the picture of Enbridge’s pipeline clearing was taken in the summer in the Enbridge document, and the anarchist’s picture was taken in the late fall when all the leaves had come off the tree- doom and gloom, the dark side of Line 9.
At first glance, the paper looks like a professionally written document- it’s attractive, well formatted, and there aren’t any spelling errors- to the uncritical observer it’s likely to look fantastic. But it only takes a couple minutes reading to realize how many cracks there are in the protester’s line. One big problem is with the footnotes:
We can see the first hint at footnote number three. The statement it supports claims that there’s a “significant threat of benzine contamination of source water at one or more of Toronto’s four intake locations”. It’s followed-up with footnote number four that claims “The benzene levels would exceed the Ontario drinking water standards, resulting in reduced capacity for Toronto to provide water to its residents for some time.”
Now, let’s look at who the footnote attributes that to:
The Council of Canadians – York University Chapter was a contributor to the NEB hearings. Amit Praharaj appeared on their behalf, he’s the chapter’s chairman, and a student at York who was scheduled to graduate his Bachelors degree in environmental science. Praharaj’s NEB submission was quite fantastical, going all Fukushima on them, claiming that a pipeline rupture could impact student’s lives through the “closure of the University for few years,” affecting “all current and future members of the University”. Not that it needs to be said after that statement, but a third year environmental science student is not anywhere near to being qualified as an expert.
Equally as important as his lack of qualifications, quoting Mr Praharaj also introduces a serous conflict of interest problem. You see, not only is he representing the Council of Canadians as a contributor to the NEB hearings, but the CoC’s also endorsed this white paper. In total, 33 of the 119 items listed in the footnotes come from people and organizations that have a direct conflict of interest.
Now, imagine what would have happened if the NEB submitted a paper that cited a third year undergrad as an expert- the protesters would have a field day attacking that!. They’d equally have a few choice comments if 25% of the citations in an NEB white paper were academically unsound. And, if the majority of the citations came from industry biased sources? Well, reading through this paper’s citations, it appears the majority did- only not industry sources, but anti-industry sources.
Lots Of Treaty References, Almost Zero Support From Local First Nations:
There’s no better example of how little support the Line 9 protesters have received from indigenous communities than the picture they used to headline their section on First Nations. The anarchists pride themselves in their focus on “anti-oppression”, people who display sexist/racist/homophobic/etc behaviour aren’t normally accepted. That is, with the exception of with people whose presence is helpful to their cause (in this case, to show indigenous support).
The picture shows five native protesters at the front row of the 2013 NEB hearing that was eventually shut-down by Line 9 protesters. Four of them (one whose hat is only visible) are the worst-ever examples of indigenous activists- an insult to the country’s many hard-working activists out there making a difference:
- On the far right you can see the camouflage baseball cap of Gary Wassaykeesic. Gary has been a vocal supporter of con-artist Kevin Annett, and has been working with the anarchists for a few years. Gary had a message for the people of Westover, Ontario after his arrest at the first Line 9 occupation- calling their homes “a shit little town“. (To be fair to the politicians profiles in this story, they’d have no way to know that was Gary).
- Sitting next to Gary is Davin Ouimet (a.k.a. Davyn Calfchild). Davin is an unabashed racist- he’s been caught hating on people of colour, Mexicans, Jews, Italians, whites and Chinese. He and Gary were arrested (and quickly released) after disrupting Remembrance Day ceremonies. Davin is currently under trial for resisting arrest. Ouimet is a one-time protégé of con-artist Kevin Annett.
- Carrie Lester is the second person to the left of Davin. She’s a TDSB schoolteacher, and one of con-artist Kevin Annett’s greatest supporters.
- Last, but not least, is Ouimet’s wife Cathy Walker– who, when not joining him mimicking Chinese people, complains on Facebook how Islamic groups need to “take Hollywood away from the Jews”.
On an interesting side-note, and perhaps indicative of a split between Unifor and other unions, all of the above mentioned characters were in a video by NOW Magazine contributor Zach Ruiter earlier this year- attacking Carolyn Egan of the Steelworkers, and Jenny Ahn of Unifor. This is interesting when put into the perspective of Unifor’s support for Line 9- are we watching a form of union-on-union thuggery?
The remainder of the section on indigenous issues outlines the treaties of effected communities. This list includes a dodgy interpretation of the Haldimand treaty, one that’s been debunked long ago. By endorsing this faulty statement, the city councillors are in-effect giving away the homes of several hundred-thousand people. Other mentioned treaties include the Simcoe Deed, and the Huron Tract Treaty affecting the Aamjiwnaang First Nation and the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation.
But, what’s visibly absent on the paper is the endorsement of any of any of the indigenous communities the writers are claiming to protect. The closest they get to this is an endorsement by the AstroTurf group Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines- led by the writer’s close friend and colleague Vanessa Gray, and her friend Samantha Elijah who lives in Vancouver. Curiously, Elijah was a scholarship recipient from ExxonMobile and Imperial Oil.
There’s one last great example of the lack of trustworthiness of the document, and the contributor’s history of appropriation of voice. The first part of the indigenous section uses “evidence” provided by Amanda Licker’s testimony to the NEB. Lickers desecrated a 9/11 memorial at Middlebury College in Vermont in September 2013 (home to 350.org’s leader Bill Mckibben). She lied to the media that she was protecting an ancient burial site of a local tribe- they denied her claim, and were very unhappy she decided to speak on their behalf.
Ms Lickers is quoted in the document’s footnotes- despite her history of lying.
Who Are The Fools Who Endorsed This?
The document’s endorsement list, as explained in the previous section, is lacking the names of any affected indigenous governments and organizations. Most of the organizations that signed were closely related to the authors, some just don’t make sense- like the anti-Israel Independent Jewish Voices.
But, the most interesting signatories on the endorsement list are the politicians:
- Mike Layton is a former employee of Environmental Defence, an organization whose staff are connected to the document, and that has been forefront in the fight against Line 9. Rather than step away from the issue in what could be perceived as a conflict of interest, Layton introduced a vote against Line 9 into city council in April.
- Josh Matlow is the former leader of the radical environmental NGO Earthroots. Earthroots is closely connected to the environmental battles at the Grassy Narrows First Nation where Shelley Carroll’s assistant (and G20 convict) Leah Henderson was arrested with an Earthroots staff member.
- Councillor Paula Fletcher is the former chairman of the Manitoba Communist Party, and a former organizer for Judy Rebick’s National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Rebick is a long-term ally of the anarchists behind the Line 9 protests.
- Janet Davis once spoke in support of OCAP when they invaded a city hall budget meeting in 2010 (well, at least she disagreed with their tactics!). Davis was on of 11 councillors (including the above mentioned three) opposing the eviction of Occupy Toronto– despite the rampant drug use and alleged rapes.
For information on the other endorsers, please go through the interactive chart.
So, Why Is This Important?
There are a number of reasons why this story is important. The first, and most obvious, is that there’s an election in Toronto and it appears four city councillors have some explaining to do. How could they allow their names to be used to support such an obviously dodgy paper? More importantly, shouldn’t we be uncomfortable city councillors are cooperating with militant anarchists who reject the authority of our country’s government?
These four councillors should be very happy they don’t live in a country like Russia, Putin would send them off to a holiday in Siberia if they did this there…
Also important is that the councillor’s endorsement only helped to further the abuse the activists have cast on the communities whose voices they’ve been appropriating. I tweeted out about three weeks ago that anyone supporting Kevin Annett is continuing the pattern of abuse against Residential School survivors- despite our many differences, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs tweeted back in agreement.
Seven people in this story are connected to the Annett fraud- Dave Vasey and Sakura Saunders facilitated as he waved around bones at Occupy Toronto claiming they were of young children chopped-up by the clergy. Not one of them has reversed their statement or apologized for their contributions to an incident that caused pain to many people in the Six Nations community.
When Vasey and other protesters setup an occupation on Six Nations land in July, they were quickly asked by the community to leave. They claim they’re defending indigenous rights, but have no endorsements- instead using AstroTurf groups like the WPIRG funded Grand River Indigenous Solidarity (run by “settlers) and close native friends as a cover. The city councillor’s endorsements add to this cover- further victimizing the communities whose voices the protesters have taken.
To wrap-up the story in as few words as possible- that sucks. And, it might just be racist too- it’s unquestionably exploitative…