Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Alberta Government Threatens Tar Sands Activists

Here’s one for our Canadian readers.  News of Canada rarely finds its way this far south.

TarSands The provincial government in Alberta, Canada is threatening to unleash its counterterrorism plan if activists continue using civil disobedience to protest the tar sands, Canada's fastest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

In recent weeks, Greenpeace has staged three daring protests inside tar sands mines, temporarily shutting down parts of the world's largest energy project. On Oct. 3 and 4, activists blocked construction of an upgrader needed to refine heavy tar sands oil, belonging to Shell in Ft. Saskatchewan, Alberta.

Civil disobedience from Greenpeace, leading to 37 arrests, has enraged Alberta's conservative government. "We're coddling people who are breaking the law," complained Premier Ed Stelmach during a media scrum in early October.

"Premier Stelmach's public suggestion that he will use the 'force of the law to deal with these people' confirms his lack of knowledge of the limits of his authority and the clear rule that our system of justice cannot be interfered with or manipulated for political reasons," responded Brian Beresh, the defence lawyer representing arrested activists, at a news conference in Edmonton.

Legal scholars, including University of Alberta law professor Sanjiv Anand and Tom Engel of the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, have criticized the provincial government for attempting to politicize legal proceedings.

"We're going to be working very closely with industry and our solicitor general will be reviewing all of the guidelines we have in place," said a visibly irritated Premier Stelmach in early October.

Fred Lindsay, the solicitor general, went a step further, suggesting the province might use its counterterrorism plan against future protests… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Common Dreams>

The protestors are breaking the law.  Nobody denies that.  Therefore the Alberta government has every right to prosecute.  That’s the whole point of civil disobedience.  Protestors know in advance that their actions are subject to punishment and are willing to face the just consequences, making examples of themselves to draw attention to their cause.  However, they are not terrorists.  They have harmed nobody.  They have merely interfered with the operations of a huge corporation that does not care how much environmental damage they do to make a profit.  To treat them as terrorists would be an outrage.


Brother Tim said...

The mindset of today is: Any law-breaker is a 'terrorist'. Instill fear in the populace and miscarriages of justice will be readily accepted.

TomCat said...

In that way, Tim, it appears that Harpers Harpies are much like the Bush/GOP Reich.

Stimpson said...

So the oilsands activity pollutes the Athabasca River so much that fish downstream smell like rubber, and it requires five or six barrels of water to make a barrel of oil, and the natural gas burned to extract a barrel of tarsands oil is enough to heat a Calgary bungalow for a few days in winter, and the oilsands are the dirtiest source of petroleum on Earth ... So what?

Jeez, these environmentalists are so whiny.
/sarcasm off

TomCat said...

LOL Stimson. It's a real mess, isn't it.