Editor's note: This editorial was published online on March 22 by Burnaby Now, sister publication of Pipeline News. It provides a perspective from the terminus of the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline.
There’s been a lot of huffing and puffing by pundits lately about the masterminding of the pipeline protests in Burnaby.
They’re being trained, yes, trained. They have a plan. Yes, even a strategy. And, yes, there might be a connection between environmental protesters from other movements and – get this – some of them may even have been active at other protests.
Why this is surprising, let alone raising concerns, is pretty astounding.
Surely, it was to be expected. In fact, if anything, one might have expected more protesters, more organization and more special tactics.
And to suggest that any civil disobedience is somehow related to terrorism, is simply trying to bait people.
In fact, the protesters are using a fairly standard playbook. One that, in B.C., we should be familiar with.
The Clayoquot protests – called the War in the Woods – were held to protest and stop clearcutting in Clayoquot Sound.
Close to 900 protesters faced charges during the protests, and blockades pitted loggers against First Nations, residents and environmental activists.
Those protests went from 1980 to 1994.
To make a very long protest story short - the NDP government at the time finally stepped in and provided a solid protection plan for the forests. Although, understandably, not everyone was happy.
So would we not expect protesters to have learned from this experience and the successful tactics that were used back then? Certainly the police learned what to do in such protests – and what not to do – after the media captured them manhandling elderly protesters into paddy wagons
During protests in Burnaby, RCMP officers were calm and stonefaced while doing their duty. In fact, while some protesters seemed to try and taunt the cops, the officers seemed implacable.
Now, 1994 is a long time ago. Action on a protest line can go live and viral on social media in seconds. Burnaby is not out in the wilds somewhere. The ingredients are quite different today than they were 14 years ago.
But these pipeline protesters may just understand that time is, indeed, on their side.
Fossil fuels are a dying commodity. If protesters can stall the flow, as protesters stalled logging years ago, they may just buy themselves some valuable time.