Dogwood Initiative Anti-Oil Scare Tactics Ignore Inconvenient Truths (Feat. Kai Nagata)

Dogwood Initiative's Kai Nagata

Dogwood Initiative’s Kai Nagata

The Dogwood Initiative is a Victoria, BC based non-profit, and registered lobbyist group, that focusses on environmental issues. Like many NGOs, Dogwood has taken a strong stand against Kinder Morgan’s proposed twinning of the TransMountain pipeline- the subject of the recent protests on Burnaby Mountain.

Kai Nagata is the former Quebec City Bureau Chief for CTV News. Nagata’s claim to fame comes from when he wrote a blog posting attacking his former industry titled Why I Quit My Job. Nagata criticised Canadian media explaining he left for ethical reasons because it was impossible for him to be an “objective” reporter.

Nagata recently jumped from the media’s fire into the frying pan of the ENGO world when he joined the Dogwood Initiative in March, 2014. One would think that a journalist who left the media industry for ethical reasons would be the perfect person to bring truth to his new employer- checking his facts, and avoiding the over-sensationalizing he so loathed during his career with CTV. Unfortunately, Kai doesn’t appear to be doing much better at Dogwood.

Yes, scary, but an impossible scenario...

Yes, scary, but a near impossible scenario…

This week’s controversy comes from a fundraising email Nagata sent out to Dogwood supporters titled “Kinder Morgan is keeping secrets”. Kai started off his appeal with an emotional scare story that’s bound to get most people’s attention:

“Imagine a fully loaded crude oil tanker from a Kinder Morgan pipeline losing power and crashing into the Lions Gate Bridge, spilling tonnes of thick bitumen near the shores of Stanley Park where it promptly sinks to the bottom. How does the company plan on preventing such an environmental and economic catastrophe from happening?”

As a journalist, and a representative of an NGO engaged in a fundraising activity, Nagata has the responsibility to make sure he checked the facts in his letter. Unfortunately, he didn’t. The scenario he’s proposing, an oil tanker losing power and crashing into the bridge, ignores the inconvenient truth.

Piloting and tug rules from Port Metro Vancouver

Piloting and tug rules from Port Metro Vancouver

As Port Metro Vancouver explains on their marine safety brochure, all large ships passing under the Lions Gate bridge are required to be guided through with licensed pilots and accompanying tug boats.This means that if the “crude oil tanker” in Natata’s scenario is lost power the tugs would be able to pull the ship to safety. There aren’t any secrets how we’d avoid such an (almost impossible) disaster, it’s documented on PMV’s website.

So, what are these secrets Kai is telling us about? A story came out about ten days ago explaining how Kinder Morgan is reluctant to release “sensitive” details of their emergency plans due to security concerns. The Vancouver Sun reported that 30 sections of KM’s plan were held back including “remote emergency shutdowns and staffing for the Westbridge Marine Terminal, valve locations on the Trans Mountain pipeline and evacuation zone maps for its terminals and tank farms”.

The media had a field day with this information, there was a lot of criticism, but little analysis as to what reasons (besides sinister corporate intentions) KM would be reluctant to release it. There are, however, some valid reasons:

1. While most anti-pipeline protesters are peaceful, there are many who aren’t. For example, some of the organizers and participants at the Burnaby Mountain protest actively promote using violent tactics. At least one person who travelled to the protests is a member of the Deep Green Resistance, a group whose charismatic leader Derick Jensen has openly promoted sabotage against dams and power transmission lines- acts that could kill people.

2. Many Canadian anti-pipeline activists are trained by and/or work with the Ruckus Society, an organization whose logo includes a monkeywrench- symbolizing their goal of causing damage to industrial infrastructure, similar to the tree spiking activities seen in previous years. KM’s plans could be very helpful to them.

3. Parts of the documentation that include information on staffing may put individuals at risk of being attacked by pipeline protesters. We saw this just a couple of days ago when David Suzuki’s grandson (who works with someone who promotes violence) and others burst into a North Vancouver fish restaurant to attack (the wrong) Kinder Morgan employees. Also, reports indicate that staff at Simon Fraser University who’ve worked with the company have been victim to similar attacks.

What sort of damage could be caused by “monkeywrenching” activists who decide to take action to cause damage to Kinder Morgan’s business? Security documentation could provide “just enough” information to make these people dangerous, and not enough to show them how to avoid starting a bigger disaster. People’s lives are at risk here.

Harsha Walia wearing the latest in BCGEU fashion...

Harsha Walia wearing the latest in BCGEU fashion…

But that information is safe in the hands of the provincial government- right? Well, perhaps not. Take for example, Harsha Walia, one of the violence promoters who was on-site during orchestrating the arrest of David Suzuki’s family members on Burnaby Mountain. Walia is not only a member of the BC Government Employees Union, but has also been a featured speaker at their events.

How can we trust the members of this union to hold this information in confidence when they’re featuring someone who openly promotes violence, and works with closely with RCMP monitored extremists like the Unist’ot’en Camp?

Good question, isn’t it? The ball is in your court Kai, your’re the one who’s been seen sharing stages with strange bedfellows who promote violence

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