Earlier this year a small group of anti-pipeline protesters kicked off a series of direct action protests in Burnaby BC. Their first high-profile action happened in May when three of them locked their necks to the front gate of Chevron’s refinery “in solidarity” with the anarchist/native led Unist’ot’en action camp. One of he protesters was already known to this website, Dan Wallace had openly promoted violence against the police at this year’s May Day march. The other was Mia Nissen- a deluded character who’d previously compared herself to Gandhi after announcing plans to start a “hunger strike” (which was really a 7 day fast).
The protest was shut down after Chevron successfully applied for an injunction. Curiously, the RCMP allowed the protesters to walk away without facing any charges. Like any crime victim who’s watched the perpetrator set free, it appears that Chevron was disappointed- in August, they decided to take their own action to pursue justice through the courts.
Wallace and Nissen were back in the spotlight in August when, demonstrating a shocking lack of originality, they locked their necks to the front gate of a Kinder Morgan facility; this time joined by a young man named Adam Gold. Protesters have been bird-dogging Kinder Morgan staff ever since- often swearing at them and yelling insults as they tried to do their jobs. Like Chevron was in August, it appears that Kinder Morgan has finally had enough- they responded yesterday serving protesters with a $5.6 million lawsuit.
Documents filed with the court list six defendants
- Adam Gold is a young man who originally comes from Bella Bella, BC. His Facebook friends list includes a number of high-profile union/NGO connected militants including Harsha Walia, Anushka Nagji, and Brigette DePape.
- Mia Nissen is a graduate student at Simon Fraser University.
- Stephen Collis is an SFU English professor, and a long time participant in Vancouver’s militant community. He’s is vocal supporter of the doctrine of Diversity of Tactics (meaning, it’s okay for fellow protesters to use violence). Collis has taken a high-profile position in this protest, often making media appearances on their behalf. Collis was an equally high-profile member of Occupy Vancouver (and appeared with Your Humble Narrator on CBC The National’s segment about Occupy’s one year anniversary).
- Lynne Quarmby is a professor at Simon Fraser University’s department of molecular biology and biochemistry.
- Alan Dutton is listed on the complaint “in his personal capacity as a representative of Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE is a small group started by 20 local residents, they’ve received funding from West Coast Environmental Law). Dutton is a prominent anti-racism activist whose biography labels as an expert on anti-democratic movements and right wing extremism. Considering the company he keeps, he no doubt also has expertise in left wing extremism.
- John Doe, Jane Doe and Persons Unknown: Meaning, there’s a potential other defendants may be named in the future.
As often observed in protester friendly publications, an article published today in the Vancouver Observer (reader beware) only tells half of the story. Introducing the defendants as people “who have spoken out against the company’s pipeline test work” (they did a whole lot more than speak out), they next quoted Stephen Collis claiming:
“I feel outraged politically that this could happen in a democracy – that a massive foreign company can accuse you of trespassing on a park. That they can use the courts and their money and influence from barring you from your constitutional right to free speech”
There are a lot of things wrong with this statement, obvious problems that an objective journalist might question. Let’s start with Collis’ bogus (or, perhaps just stupid?) claim to be outraged “that this could happen in a democracy”. Canada’s has a democratically elected government and Kinder Morgan was operating entirely within the law. If democracy was assaulted, it happened the moment a small handful of people deputised themselves as agents above the law. The only constitutional rights that may have been breeched were Kinder Morgan’s right to conduct their work without interference.
One thing that Collis (and the Observer) doesn’t tell us is that the protesters have been accused of more than just trespassing. There are six other charges including assault, intimidation, nuisance, inducing breech of contract, and conspiracy.
That’s quite the list of charges, what have the protesters been doing up there on Burnaby Mountain?
So, What Rights Do Protesters Really Have?
It’s prudent to begin this conversation acknowledging that the protesters are entirely cognizant their rights weren’t actually being violated- this is far from being Stephen Collis’ first rodeo, he’s gone through this process more than once in the past. We should blame the idiocy of the good professor’s claims on the ghost of Saul Alinsky. Collis’ framing of Kinder Morgan as an evil, foreign, rights violating leviathan comes straight out of the book- rule twelve in Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals states: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it”.
The defendants had every right to protest, and have every right to voice their complaints- there’s no evidence these rights had been violated. As already mentioned, what they don’t have the right to do is impede the rights of others. But don’t take my word for it, BC courts have covered this issue ad-nauseum.
Kinder Morgan’s court filing quotes four instances of case law that make it clear the protesters were operating outside of their rights. The decision is ultimately up to the courts to decide, but the previous decisions seem pretty clear- and, we have video of the protesters engaging in exactly the same behaviour.
A Small Bit Of Advice For Kinder Morgan:
One last thing stuck-out when reading through Kinder Morgan’s filing. It comes from section 24 of Part III where their lawyers summarize their case for why the court should approve the injunction. Their lawyers stated in parts “a” and “d” that the protesters were aware of the fact they were committing an offence and knew this made them subject to being arrested.
Despite the utter bullshit Stephen Collis shovelled to us through the Vancouver Observer, it’s virtually unimaginable the protesters weren’t smart enough to realize this. It’s likely the people at Kinder Morgan have already compiled evidence to back these statements, but if they’re in need of more, they should definitely check out this video- it’s chock-full of incriminating information.
When asked about what the protester’s goals are (at 1:50), Collis makes little effort to cover his tracks:
“The aim is to not allow this pipeline project to go ahead whatsoever.”
Then (at 2:10) he states:
“In some ways our role has become a delay tactic. How can we slow them down?”
Finally (at 2:15) one of the protesters is caught on video explaining:
“They still have to go another step and get an enforcement order in order to start arresting people, but that’s pretty quick, they could probably do that in a half a day”
Case closed, the protesters knew exactly what they were stepping into…