As readers of this site already know, the Vancouver Observer was founded based on a deception. When their editor Linda Solomon (sister of Joel Solomon, the head of TIDES Canada) arrived in Canada the first thing she did to garner favour with the city was to write a book called “Why I Love Vancouver”. The book’s cover stated that she’s a Pulitzer nominee- she’s not.
Since its founding, the Observer has gradually deteriorated to become the Pravda of the West Coast- promoting a con-artist who’s been terrorizing indigenous communities, publishing deeply personal attacks against TIDES’ critics and making-up scare stories about government spying. Now, right at the point where you’d think things couldn’t get worse, the Observer has taken one step deeper into the abyss- this time, participating in the desecration of Santa Claus, and making wild allegations against staff at the Port of Vancouver.
The story, titled Coal protest at Port of Vancouver offices gets ugly, is the perfect example of the Observer’s lack of objectivity. It was written by reporter Erin Flegg who joined protesters from the anarchist group Rising Tide as an embedded journalist while they invaded the offices of the Port of Vancouver. (There’s no indication Flegg trespassed herself.)
Flegg begins her story with some serious allegations against the Port’s staff:
“Things turned violent when a handful of members of environmental activist group Rising Tide arrived at Canada Place this morning dressed as Santa and walked into Port of Vancouver offices with sacks of coal”
Wow. Reading that sentence, one may imagine it was written about a strike by violent port workers, not the office workers at headquarters! But, before you get too excited, take a moment and watch the video that was broadcast on the CBC:
Watching the scuffle at the office’s front door one can see that the protesters weren’t acting like the angels the Observer was trying to paint them as. If there was violence, it was definitely on both sides- you can see one of the protesters pushing back against the Port’s employees who tried to remove them, and the pictures of what happened inside indicate the same. That said, staff at the port had every right to evict the protesters (though, admittedly, it would have been better for them to have waited for the police).
The port has claimed that the protesters broke things and caused damage as they were fighting to stay inside. As a result, the Vancouver Police have said that they’re investigating if criminal charges are necessary. Of course, the Observer’s story makes no mention of this at all- the joys of their flavour of embedded journalism.
Adding some hilarity to the article, the writer included (without questioning) the most ridiculous quote from Rising Tide spokesperson Chandra Tung:
“We think it just goes to highlight how much Port Metro Vancouver is not willing to tolerate opposition to this project”
To be fair to the Observer, they weren’t the only publication to republish this nonsense without questioning it- the CBC did too. But, the only way one could believe this statement is if they desperately wanted to. If there’s anything that this incident highlights, it’s that the people working for the port authority aren’t willing to tolerate people invading their office and causing a ruckus. That could be said for most workplaces.
Next, the article escalates the idiocy with another hilarious statement from Rising Tide:
“We did it because an environmental impact assessment that doesn’t take global climate change into account is a joke”
The joke is what’s being played on the reader. The port authority can only make decisions based on local issues within their jurisdiction. This means that they have full responsibility of the environmental impact on resources managed by the port, but an issue like the impact on global warming is completely outside of their mission. We can be pretty certain that if the port did make a decision based on the global impact that it would be quickly overturned by the courts.
This leads us to ask whether the people at the Observer are actually that stupid, or are they trying to pull the wool over our eyes?
What The Observer Didn’t Tell You:
The Observer’s article was written by a young woman named Erin Flegg. Looking at her Twitter account, one can see she has a close relationship with the protesters, and was embedded in their last three events; the Santa Claus invasion, invading Christy Clark’s privacy protesting in front of her home, and a wildcat protest blocking trucks from accessing the port.
The members of Rising Tide would never let someone in on secrets like when they’re holding an illegal protest unless they were absolutely certain the writer would report to their advantage. Obviously, reading her article, Erin Flegg lived up to this promise.
Flegg took several pictures during her adventure with Rising Tide but somehow omitted one of the most important. These weren’t just any old Santas, they were Santas of Anarchy! Of course, had the Observer included this photo in their article, it would have made her claims of violence a lot less credible- and, probably, it would be the last protest Rising Tide gave Flegg a heads-up on.
Rising Tide is an anarchist organization, connected to some of the most vile and violent activists across North America. Their recent protest against Line 9 in Toronto included Alex Hundert, the ringleader behind the violence at the 2010 G20 in Toronto. In Vermont, members of Rising Tide tore down a 9/11 memorial to the dead claiming it was on a native burial site- the local tribe said this wasn’t true, and expressed that they were disgusted with Rising Tide’s behaviour.
Rising Tide’s protest was about much more than the environment- they made this clear, labelling protesters as “Anti-Capitalist Santas”. Nowhere in the article does the Observer mention this. Of course they wouldn’t, as it would have turned off many of their readers and would have helped them see through the story’s deception.
The Writer’s Response:
Your Humble Narrator was curious to hear Erin Flegg’s explanation for her slanted article, so contacted her by Twitter. Much like her article, her first explanation was knee-deep:
So, rather than explaining herself, Flegg decided to try to weasel her way out with politically correct gobbledegook- trying to indicate that Your Humble Narrator was “invalidating” the protester’s experience by questioning her story. What about the people who work at the Port’s offices? Did the Observer not invalidate their experience?
Think about this for a moment. Flegg puts up pictures of the port’s staff looking like they’re beating up Santa Claus and claiming that they’re violent goons. None of those people deserved that- and, as the video shows us, these were highly aggressive Santas. Let’s hope that none of the people Flegg smeared in her article have to explain what happened to their kids.
This is the quality of journalism we see at the Observer…
The Community’s Response:
The Vancouver Police held a press conference about the protest a couple of days ago stating that the protesters allegedly trespassed, threw coal at port employees, and caused damage inside of the office. They’re now in the process of a criminal investigation- something else the Observer omitted to tell their readers.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) put out a statement on the 18th condemning the protest. ILWU president Mark Gordienko had some harsh words to say:
“We don’t believe true environmentalists hide their faces or break into offices and harass working people just doing their jobs and we call on environmental groups to denounce these kind of bully tactics used Monday”
Vice-President Bob Ashton took things one step further, calling for the protester’s arrest:
“We hope and expect charges to be laid by the Vancouver Police Department and this kind of nastiness directed to our members who work at Port Metro Vancouver to never be repeated”
You won’t hear Your Humble Narrator saying this often- but, the union executives were right! There’s no excuse to harass innocent bystanders who have no impact on the decision. Running into the port’s offices, throwing around coal, and damaging their workplace isn’t activism- it’s criminality. Publishing the worker’s pictures and calling them violent is tasteless at best.
As each incident like this occurs it becomes increasingly apparent that the Vancouver Observer is a danger to society. They’re harming environmental causes, turning people off with their dishonesty. They’re putting people in Vancouver at risk by promoting the causes of violent anarchists. They’re degrading the integrity of the journalistic profession. And, they’re harming the careers of budding young journalists like Ms. Flegg.
The people of Vancouver deserve better than this. It’s time for Linda Solomon to pack-up her carpetbags and move herself back to Tennessee- there’s a train leaving at a quarter-to-four…