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EDITORIAL – Protest the pipeline expansion, sure, but do it legally

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WHERE ARE ALL the responsible politicians in these Trans Mountain pipeline protests?

The ones who obey the law?

Sure, they’re out there, but why aren’t they front and centre condemning the headline-grabbing, publicity seeking likes of Elizabeth May and Kennedy Stewart?

May, of course, is the leader of the federal Green Party, and Stewart is the NDP MP for Burnaby South.

They seem proud of being arrested for civil contempt in blocking a road at a Kinder Morgan worksite in violation of a court injunction.

They’re among more than 170 — as of yesterday — who have been arrested in the past few days during protests in Burnaby.

May, a lawyer by profession, proclaims she respects the courts — “very, very committed to the rule of law,” she says. Ignoring a court order seems a strange way to go about it.

Non-violent legal protest is a time-honoured democratic right in Canada, but the key words are “legal protest.” No matter what you think of the pipeline project, for it or against it, it seems to me politicians have a special duty to lead by example on things like abiding by orders of the courts.

So where are BC Green leader Andrew Weaver, Premier John Horgan and other prominent politicians while this is going on? Wisely, they didn’t plant themselves in front of the Kinder Morgan gates with May and Stewart, but they should be making it very clear that even if they oppose the Trans Mountain project, respect for the law is one of our Canadian values.

Two things should happen here. May and Kennedy should be called on the carpet to explain themselves to Parliament, ands face possible sanctions.

And, their fellow elected representatives at both the federal and provincial levels — whatever their stand on the pipeline — should be making it clear that the actions of the two Members of Parliament are unacceptable.

After that, let the protests continue for as long as the protesters have the energy to protest peacefully, and legally.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5567 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

9 Comments on EDITORIAL – Protest the pipeline expansion, sure, but do it legally

  1. This is salient to the discussion: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/pipeline-protesters-boston-protest-not-guilty-climate-change-karenna-gore-mary-ann-driscoll-a8276851.html . The law in another jurisdiction has exonerated “illegal” protesters.

  2. Well said, David Goar. Without civil disobedience, only white males would be allowed to vote in this country (maybe some grumpy ones wish that were still the case? 😉 ). There are times when politicians are not looking after the best interests of ALL people, but instead are beholden to a minority with special interests, and this is one of them. Have you read Julie Gelfand’s (Auditor General’s office) latest report, Mel? Canada is failing to meet every one of our climate change targets.

    It is tremendously irresponsible to further expand fossil fuel infrastructure–all sides agree further investment will delay the transition away from a fuel source which we can no longer ethically continue to exploit. I applaud the courageous people who are willing to get arrested to keep focus on this situation.

  3. Thank you DG.
    Mutual trust and respect develop good relationships.
    Something is missing in this Kinder Morgan dispute.

  4. The aforementioned comment is absolutley correct.
    As for politicians partaking in the process that a large number of their constituants agree with ( indeed, demand ) I believe that Mz May does respect the courts but feels that the information they used to arrive at their ruling was warped and weighted in favour of industry.The hearings on many such projects (ie Site C ) was taken away from the agency created to evaluate such projects .Thus, it is a probability that the courts reached an inaccurate conclusion and should be challenged .
    Thanks Elizabeth and Kennedy Stewart for standing up for your (and our) rights.We must be sure that legal process and conclusion is based on truth, not false evidence proffered by corporate lawyers.

    • There are those who believe the law is black
      and white; and those who know there are many shades of grey. The law is a living thing; changes are influenced by action. Where there is no harm other than harm to a large corporation’s bottom line, I agree with those who challenge the flawed decisions we all know occur in favour of big money.

  5. R A George // March 26, 2018 at 9:55 AM // Reply

    I,m afraid Mel that David Goar is correct. Unfortunately elected representatives often do not act when it is politicily expediant not to, even though they may agree with you.

  6. Whether you are right or wrong about this, Mel, really depends on whether the ‘process’ used to justify the project approval is fair and appropriate. Many people have good reason to believe it’s not. And the political about-faces and blatant lies don’t do anything to build public confidence either.

    Disobedience is what the people are forced to resort to when the system refuses to play fairly. And if we see civil disobedience, that should be a big red flag that something is seriously wrong with our system. I’m having trouble recalling a time in history when this sort of respectful civil disobedience didn’t turn out to be fully justified and applauded by later generations.

  7. David Goar // March 26, 2018 at 8:20 AM // Reply

    If Martin Luther King, and the civil rights protesters of the 60s, had heeded this advice we might still be living in a segregated America. Civil disobedience is a time honoured means of expressing dissatisfaction with an unjust set of laws or the refusal of our elected representatives to embraced needed change. As long as one is willing to accept the legal consequences of one’s illegal action, civil disobedience is something to be admired and respected, not condemned.

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