Earlier this week Vancouver Sun reporter Peter O’Neill wrote the naïvely titled story RCMP claim of B.C. anti-pipeline extremists shocks native, environmental leaders. From one perspective the story was gut-bustingly funny, blatant misinformation so poorly researched it could have come from the Vancouver Observer. But it was also profoundly disturbing- dangerously sloppy reporting that could potentially get people hurt.
The story was centred around the release of an RCMP document outlining critical threats to the Canadian petroleum industry. Despite being marked “Canadian Eyes Only”, most of the content appears to come from open source information. The interesting part was the analysis, a peak into activist militancy through the lenses of the RCMP. And, as expected, the document’s release was followed by the inevitable torrent of activist complaints.
Up until Wednesday, the most obviously propagandistic article criticising the RCMP was published in NOW Magazine by American Anarchist Sakura Saunders- not unexpected for an anti-social hooligan who leads f##k the police marches. But O’Neill’s story really takes the cake, interviewing Grand Chief Phillip Stewart and framing an image so wildly deviant from reality that there were reports of people seeing the glow of Linda Solomon’s blush as far away as Halifax.
The analysis in RCMP’s document presented a solid explanation of the current state of the anti-pipeline movement. Regular readers of this website are already familiar with most of the content- subjects including terrorist events like the 2010 Ottawa RBC fire bombing, protests against Enbridge’s Line 9 reversal, the Elsipogtog anti-fracking riots in New Brunswick, and the violent (mostly anarchist) Unist’ot’en Camp in northern BC. There was also some information on funding sources, most based on the excellent work of Financial Post contributor Vivian Krause.
As any good propagandist will tell you, one of the shortest paths to deflecting criticism is to use language that discredits the source. Phillips’ first quote is the perfect example, labelling the RCMP’s concerns as “absolutely bizarre,bordering on misguided hysteria” was brilliant, less transparent than “tin foil hat” but leaving readers with exactly the same impression.
The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is a Vancouver based organization whose membership is reported to consist of somewhere between 30-40% of BC first nations (not the majority). The group is led by Grand Chief Phillip Stewart, a man whose activism often appears to parallel the policies of the radical arm of the NDP. He was recently a featured speaker at the launch of luxury hotel aficionado Jenny Kwan’s campaign to take Libby Davies’ seat in Parliament. Showing signs of either poor judgement, or shameless solidarity, Stewart was a vocal supporter of “Homeless Dave’s” 2013 fake hunger strike.
UBCIC held a press conference in September, 2014 on the Mount Polley mining disaster. Considering they’re an indigenous sovereignty organization, it was rather unusual to see Anushka Nagji (a non-native employee of the Council of Canadians) leading the event. It was also interesting to see a framed image of a fist on the wall of their conference room. When asked about the image, the person running their Twitter account responded saying “You see militancy, we see freedom”.
It’s not hard to see the conflict here- as the old adage goes, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. If Phillip Stewart is concerned enough about “misguided hysteria”, it might be a good idea to take down the fist and to ask his Twitter person to stop going all Che Guevara on us. That is, if his intentions are good.
“Perhaps a summer of barricades, balaclavas and burning tires will serve to draw attention to the urgency of the desperate situation of the Aboriginal people of Canada” [Phillip Stewart, 2007]
Take Back The Land, Kill The White Man
The membership section of UBCIC’s constitution outlines the different types of people and groups and their voting rights- if you read through it you’ll find a special section for the Native Youth Movement labelling them as official members. The group was originally founded in Winnipeg in 1990, the BC wing launched in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in 1995.
If an organization wanted to get itself placed onto the RCMP’s list of potential extremists, adding the NYM to their constitution would be a quick and easy way to accomplish that. The NYM video above is a great example. The first thing you’ll notice is that there are people of all ages carrying guns and wearing balaclavas. Then there’s explosive language like “take back the land kill the white man”, and “if white crosses that line, there’s gonna be some blood squirting”- technically, these are hate crimes. Also interesting is the presence of Vancouver activist Jayson Fleury- one of the people suspected of fire bombing the police cars at the Elsipogtog fracking riots.
Gord Hill is a talented artist whose work is at risk of being declared “terrorist propaganda” by Bill C-51. The above image is an excellent example- showing what many have interpreted as a call for people to promote sabotaging pipelines, rail, and electrical infrastructure. Hill was a participant in the NYM.
One could argue that Hill’s drawing is merely symbolic, and perhaps it is, but his history indicates it may equally intended to promote terrorist activity. Hill has publicly advocated the doctrine of diversity of tactics, an ideology that says it’s okay if people chose to use violence. He was featured in a film by Franklin Lopez (a guy whose work unabashedly promotes violence) called End:Civ. The movie features and promotes the ideology of Derek Jensen, the charismatic leader of an end-of-the-world cult called the Deep Green Resistance. Jensen openly advocates that people should blow up dams and power lines.
One of the more transparent signs that NGOs and non-native activists have been appropriating indigenous sovereignty movements is that the money rarely goes to an Indian- more often than not in BC, the money ends up in the hands of the Council of Canadians. The NYM was an interesting twist on this problem- the money went to Harjap Grewal, an Indian who works for the CoC’s. Wait don’t cheer yet, you see, Harjap is the wrong kind of Indian- he comes from a Sikh family. So basically, still more of the same.
Harjap is a special kind of nutbar. He supports diversity of tactics, but takes things one further with his wackadoodle theory that Gandhi’s victory in India came as a direct of people who used violence. The CoC’s is the perfect place for Harjap to exercise his brand of extremism, his colleague Bob Ages was responsible for enabling Black Bloc protesters at the 2010 Olympics and CoC leader Maude Barlow has advocated for the smashing of windows.
When you’re a nutbar who perverts the story of Mahatma Gandhi, and works in an NGO that has no problem with the use of violence, it’s important to have a partner who can handle your extremism. Harjap lucked out, hooking up with Harsha Walia- the country’s biggest cheerleader for Black Bloc and diversity of tactics. Adding to her (scary) zaniness, Walia is the Canadian version of Al Sharpton- race is a weapon in her world, and a tool to help with her “movement building”.
Curiously, considering how hard Stewart Phillip has worked to try and convince British Columbians it’s unjust the RCMP view him as a person of interest, he simultaneously thumbed his nose at them by allowing Walia to stage manage his arrest at the Burnaby Mountain protest. Putting it into layman’s terms, the entire premise of Stewart’s statement to Peter O’Neill is untrue (or perhaps Stewart is senile and Walia is taking advantage of him?).
Elsipogtog Anti-Fracking Riots
In 2013 protesters gathered in New Brunswick to protest the gathering of knowledge. SWN had planned to use sonar “thumper trucks” to map underground to see if there’s natural gas. Activists have put a lot of effort into framing Stephen Harper as “anti-science”, the perfect phrase to describe the protesters in Elsipogtog.
A Georgia Straight article about the riots quoted both Phillip Stewart and Gord Hill- and, once again, Stewart’s statement demonstrated credibility problems:
“The brutal response on the part of the RCMP…was, in part, to send a message—a very strong message—to the First Nations and the environmental movement in British Columbia.”
Readers unaware of the circumstances may have fallen for this manipulative statement, Phillip conveniently neglected to mention that the RCMP had intelligence indicating the protesters had guns and improvised explosive devices (which they did). It’s curious that O’Neill failed to challenge Phillip on this- sloppy journalism, at best.
Phillip Stewart’s Final Statement
“Phillip said he’s never met anyone prepared to engage in criminal activity since his association with the B.C. environmental movement began in the 1970s”
Let’s start with the obvious, unless Phillip was a co-conspirator, it’s not very likely people are going to tell him they plan to commit a crime- this statement is impossible to prove. That said, take a look at the above picture that was posted on UBCIC’s Facebook page- three masked activists committing criminal mischief by putting bicycle locks on the front door to Enbridge’s office.
Next, BC was once home to Paul Watson, possibly the world’s most famous recidivist. There’s no evidence that he and Phillip have ever met, but Sea Shepherd members were right beside Phillip Livestreaming his arrest on Burnaby Mountain.
More important than all of that, it’s reckless of Phillip to spread the gospel that people engaging in civil disobedience aren’t willing to break the law because it’s not automatically guaranteed they won’t be charged with a crime. There’s always the possibility that people engaging in civil disobedience could get charged with contempt- the odds are that they won’t, but anyone who takes this path needs to understand the risks they’re taking.
UBCIC, ISIS & Cognitive Dissonance
Though ISIS are a group of repulsive animals, there’s still one thing more respectable about them than Canadian militants- they’re blatantly honest about their tactics and intentions. For example, ISIS doesn’t bother trying to cover-up that they’re burning people alive in cages, they post the video on YouTube. UBCIC is not so straightforward about what’s going on in the background:
“Every day when you turn on the television, you witness insane acts on the part of disturbed people,” he said. “But to suggest there’s a very well-organized jihadist-style network out there that’s a threat to the Canadian public — in my experience this is absolutely not the case. I hate to say this, but this is Canada. Excuse me?”
The problem is, Phillip’s statement is not only untrue, but the Jihadist style network is named in UBCIC’s constitution. The above picture is from the 2010 Olympics when Clayton Thomas-Muller was the spokesperson for the Native Youth Movement- they’re certainly dressed like Jihadi’s! Thomas-Muller has been tracked by the RCMP for his extremist activities since 2010- he made a similar denial about not having an army last year.
True, the Native Youth Movement isn’t burning anyone alive in cages (yet), but they do present a threat to the Canadian Public. They were participants in the 1995 Gustafsen Lake Standoff, an incident where protesters occupied private property with guns (for “defensive use only”). The protesters shot their guns at RCMP officers one night, resulting in the most expensive police action in history. Several people were charged, some sentenced to time in prison.
I hate to say this, but this is Canada. Excuse me?
Stewart Phillip’s last statement in O’Neill’s article is very important- giving good advice that the people of British Columbia should all pay attention to:
“If I were to move in that direction (towards recommending criminal acts), I think we’d quickly alienate the vast majority,”
Now, of course, there’s no evidence of Phillip recommending criminal acts- it would be reckless for him to even consider doing that. But when UBCIC put’s Harsha Walia’s name as the key contact for a press release, the fact is that they’ve already moved in that direction. Walia openly praised the criminal act of “de-arresting” protesters in her speech after the Olympics- calling people to take such actions “deeply heroic” (de-arresting means that people use violence against the police to take back people being taken into custody). G20 Organizer Alex Hundert spent several months in prison for counselling people do do this.
The truth is that most British Columbians would be quickly alienated if they knew this was happening. Unfortunately, they’re not, because they don’t know that it’s happening. Why is that? Well, it’s simple really, lazy (or corrupt) hacks like Peter O’Neill are’t telling them. Instead, they’re producing propaganda stories that ignore the inconvenient truth. Organizations like the Native Youth Movement and Walia’s No One Is Illegal have already proven there’re dangerous- but, equally, the media’s complacency is too.
I’ll leave you today with an interactive chart including some of the people and organizations named in the RCMP document release. Click on the circles for more information (most are filled-in), hover to isolate their network and connections.