Équiterre is a Quebec based environmental charity whose founders claim to have been inspired after a transcontinental flight to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development’s 1992 Earth Summit in Rio Janeiro. The first sentence in their mission statement claims their goal is to “build a social movement”, encouraging society “to make ecological and equitable choices”. Some of their initiatives include assisting family farms sell produce through organic basket sales, assisting and encouraging government to buy locally grown food (similar to the UN initiative), promoting and educating on energy efficiency and fair trade.
The Unist’ot’en Camp is on Crown land in Northern BC, organizers claim their protest sits at the junction of several planned pipelines. Unist’ot’en is funded and supported by violence tolerant NGOs including the US based Deep Green Resistance, Council of Canadians, and Victoria anarchist Zoe Blunt’s Forest Action Network. The camp is surrounded by barbed wire (Blunt’s currently fundraising for gates); their policy and practice is to threaten, assault and “confiscate” the equipment of pipeline workers who cross their path. In October 2014 the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network exposed how the RCMP designated Unist’ot’en as an “extremist” group in 2010 and have been monitoring ever since.
So, what do this tax-exempt charity and violent (foreign backed) extremists have to do with each other? Well, it appears that the charity promoted a fundraiser for the extremists!
The Montreal fundraiser Pipe-Up Resist The Pipelines Unist’ot’en Cacouna fundraiser starts at 7pm in Montreal- participants are asked to enter through “the ‘secret’ door at 5334 de Gaspé”. The Facebook page describes the event saying:
“From coast to coast, native and nonnative people are uniting to stop the expansion of the oil sands, and defend our right to a healthy environment. Located directly on the path of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in British Columbia, the Unist’ot’en camp is at the forefront of this historical battle for the protection of our environment and the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights to the land. The recent Energy East project in Quebec – like Northern Gateway – reminds us that the oil sands are a threat wherever they flow. Come and bring all your friends to this solidarity gathering that will combine music, visual arts and so much inspiration! All the profits of the Pipe-Up event will be sent to the Unist’ot’en camp to help them defend their land against Big Oil!”
But wait, why would a charity that focusses on building solutions promote an anti-pipeline event that raises money benefiting some of the the country’s most prominent promoters of violence? Well, it’s hard to understand why they’d be supporting the violence (perhaps they’re closet revolutionaries?), but they do a good job of outlining the pipeline issue on their three minute long “2014 in review” video:
The video starts out okay, the part about helping to build awareness about vehicle electrification makes sense- that sounds like it could be a charitable activity. But, immediately after that, co-founder Sydney Ribaux lets the cat out of the bag:
“in spite of this encouraging progress [promoting electric vehicles], senseless projects are still being proposed- TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline is one such project, fortunately Equitere has been working for many years to stop exactly this type of project.”
So, what sort of work has this charity been engaging in to stop pipelines? Équiterre’s other co-founder Steven Guilbeault explains saying:
“To date, 21 community meetings have been organized along the proposed route of the pipeline to mobilize citizens on the issue of the arrival of Tarsands in Quebec. Following these meetings, citizen groups have emerged, petitions have been signed, and demonstrations have taken place. There is now more mobilization than ever on this issue.”
Ribaux follows-up near the end of the video saying:
“In 2015 we’ll have to keep going, the oil company’s propaganda will continue, and as they try to hold us still we will continue with your help to move forward- the mobilization will continue!”
The Canadian Revenue Agency is currently auditing Équiterre for their level of political activity. The rules say that a charity can expend no more than 10% of their revenues on “advocacy” based activities. It’s hard to tell from the outside whether they’re compliant- but, the Year In Review video sure shows where their hearts are. Ultimately, the CRA will decide.
Unfortunately, the CRA doesn’t appear to have any rules banning charities from supporting saboteurs, revolutionaries and other violent lawbreakers- isn’t it time they do?