So Now We Are Terrorists

In Canada you better don’t speak up too much for the environment in the future. You might just as well be treated like a terrorist.

The environmentalist movement was shocked last week when hearing that a new anti-terrorism law in Canada would focus especially on eco-terrorism. The Globe and Mail quotes John Bennett, executive director of Sierra Club Canada: “It’s an indirect suggestion that somehow environmentalism is attached to terrorism and that’s just wrong.”

However, environmentalism is not the only target. “The minister said that, in addition to foreign threats, the government would be vigilant against domestic extremism that is “based on grievances – real or perceived – revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism.”

Many read the proposition as direct answer to the ongoing protest Northern Gateway pipeline – which would transport tar sands oil to the cost to export it to Asia. The project is very similar to the Keystone XL pipeline which recently was rejected by Obama on environmental grounds. A success which the environmentalist movement could not enjoy for very long.

Why are these pipelines bad news? The Northern Gateway pipeline is rejected by not only environmentalists but also local leaders and residents as well as First Nations. The pipeline and the boats which would transport the oil to China would go through First Nation’s lands.

On the environmental side, all protesters agree that the environmental cost, they argue, of inevitable oil spills would simply be too high. Karen Campbell Director of the Pembina Institute starts her opposition to the project with the following words: “Can we promise there will never be an accident? No. Nobody can.” (These are the words of Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel, the company which is responsible for the planed pipepline). The tankers who would come pick up the oil are one of the biggest risk factors: “Fully opening B.C.’s coast to crude oil tankers creates the risk of a major oil spill, endangering salmon, bears and all the wildlife that lives in and around our coastline.” Let’s not forget that the oil which would be transported in the pipeline is alreading carrying a heavy weight of environmental damage.

“The anti-terrorism strategy carries the adversarial relationship between the government and the environmental groups to the extreme.” From what we have learned until now, calling somebody a terrorist, means pretty much taking away his or her rights. Does somebody who simply wants to protect the environment for future generations really play the same game as a terrorists? So far, I haven’t heard about bomb attacks made by treehuggers. However, The Globe and Mail acknowledges that some groups might turn to other means if there voices aren’t heard. Calling them terrorists beforehand is not the best strategy to encourage the peaceful means which are at the very heart of the movement.

Picture by mermaid99, gracias.


2 thoughts on “So Now We Are Terrorists

  1. Some may argue that there is an established precedent of criminals breaking the law under the guise of environmentalism, and that this justifies classifying environmentalists as potential terrorists. For example, we hear of arsonists torching new housing developments “to stop urban sprawl.” The fact remains though that such criminals are the exception rather than the rule; the vast majority of people working for environmental causes are caring, respectful, and law-abiding. This new law in Canada is clearly corporatist and political, allowing politicians to single out citizens they feel are interfering with their donors’ profits.
    In the United States similar measures are already in place. People working for the environment, animals, peace, organic agriculture, and other causes may be targeted. It is disappointing when politicians make their corporatism so blatant, but perhaps that is best.

    • Terrorism can be analyzed as acts of communication of those who find they are not heard otherwise. The environmentalist movement, however, has shown repeatedly that they know how to make their voice heard despite the lack of arena.
      Thanks for making more clear that those who do indeed use violence are the exception, not the rule.

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