RCMP and Bill C-12 (May 30, 2021)

Good Sunday Morning!

The last Sunday in May. Let’s hope that we are entering a month with more opportunities to see each other – safely.  I still worry that the risks are high of too many people feeling liberated from COVID – too soon. Be careful. Stay safe.

Which brings me to the latest outrage.  When land protectors at Caycuse or Fairy Creek are practicing, safe, peaceful and COVID-precautions in the protests, the Mounties are not.

Reports from people arrested are worrying. The paddy wagons are over-crowded. Now, maybe the RCMP Establishment thinks that if you violate a private injunction in the interest of destroying the last of British Columbia’s old growth forest, you are no longer entitled to the public health precautions dictated by the same government that has decided you should face arrest.   My friend Linda’s son Chris was arrested without his being aware he was in any zone where an arrest was legal.  The arrests were random. He was not in an area described in the court ordered injunction “no go” zone. As far as he knew, he was not even in one of the RCMP fake “exclusion zones.”  He had joined a large group of land protectors, sitting at distance, singing, and unaware they were in a place that would result in arrest. They had passed a small group of RCMP officers on the road before they reached a spot where they set themselves down.  Then a much larger group of RCMP officers showed up and moved them back into more crowded spacing.  An supervising officer then stood amongst them and randomly pointed.  Arrest him. Arrest her…  Chris was one of those singled out and arrested. He has no idea why he was singled out. It had every appearance of being random.  His phone and backpack were taken from him and he was placed in a paddy wagon with others, with no COVID distancing.  He was wearing his mask. Others were not.

Maybe a mass of public opinion believes that an arrested, non-violent, defender of the irreplaceable ancient giants of our forests deserves to be exposed to COVID. But I doubt it. The RCMP need to be called out on this. And much more.

As I see it the RCMP are the law breakers here.  The treatment of journalists trying to document arrests violates the Charter and its protections of freedom on the press.  There is no court order justifying arrests of media – nor could there be. Yet the RCMP, in many well documents incidents, have threatened reporters with arrests – without any legal justification. This practice has been increasing as it was used in keeping reporters away from the arrests of Wet’suwe’ten Hereditary chiefs.

As well, the RCMP have been arresting, without legal justification, many members of the public. Worse, they have arrested indigenous peoples with constitutionally protected rights to be on their own territory, now further protected by UNDRIP laws, in place provincially, being developed federally and in place globally.   There is no court order in support of the RCMP-created “exclusion zones.” 

Those arrested have also had their cars towed. Some have been roughed up.  This especially seems to be the case for indigenous youth.

Many friends and colleagues are considering making their way to Fairy Creek and the Upper Walbran to protect what is left. I am inspired that my old friend Tzeporah Berman is “back to the barricades.” https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-back-to-the-blockades-why-i-continue-to-fight-for-british-columbias/

We first met in Clayoquot Summer of 1993.  More accurately we met when the Sierra Club of Canada project the Clayoquot Express arrived in Tofino following a cross-country trek by rail – reaching the Peace Camp in the in-coming chill of winter in November 1993.  I am considering being arrested there too. 

Part of my reasoning is my growing panic that the last chance for our biosphere is running out - like sand between my fingers. And part of the reason for that anxiety is the back-room deal between the Liberals and NDP to push through Bill C-12 - the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act – without any real improvements.  The shenanigans have been outrageous, but media is not watching what goes on in committee. Some reporters have dutifully reported the Liberal-NDP spin (sadly echoed by some climate groups) that major improvements are being made. Please show me one.

I have included some clips from the week of May 24 when the bill was before committee.  The amount of time for witnesses from the public was less than 8 hours over three days of hearing.  Most of the dozens of briefs submitted came after the hearings were over – as was the deadline for submitting amendments. As I wrote last week, as the last panel of witnesses was dismissed, we were told all amendments were due the next day.

Thanks to Conservative MP Dan Albas giving me his first six minutes,  I questioned the Minister of Environment about Bill C-12 at committee, listing the keys areas where the bill needs to be made stronger to keep global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C. And soon after that, I was able to question Environment Canada and Climate Change Assistant Deputy Minister, an old friend from his environmental policy days, John Moffat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ttb-Mtw7qRo

It was during Monday’s clause by clause committee meeting that I realized the fix was in.  In the normal course of most clause by clause reviews of legislation, a few of my amendments will be accepted – regardless of the subject area. But it became increasingly clear that there was a pact between Liberals and the NDP to defeat every Green amendment – even when my amendment was word for word identical to a Liberal amendment they wanted to pass.  The wording in question had been recommended by West Coast Environmental Law to ensure that next target is set, not five, but 10 years ahead.

How the Lib-NDP alliance was so unaware of the logic of legislative review that they failed to realize that defeating the wording they wanted as a Green amendment would preclude voting for the same language later as a Liberal amendment, is beyond me.  In fact, the chair of the committee had warned them, in routine fashion, that if the Green amendment failed then the identical Liberal amendment cannot be moved.  Only Bloc MP Monique Pauzé voted for my amendment.  And when the chair intoned, without any suggestion that he knew his ruling would create an eruption of howls of protest, that the Liberal motion could not be moved, I think we lost a good half hour to the ensuing chaos.  It was bizarre. It would have been funny, but for the importance of any improvement to this weak act.

Liberal MP Yvan Baker, whose amendment was identical to mine, suggested it could be moved once amended from ten years to 3650 days. The clerk said that wouldn’t work because that was still ten years. Then NDP MP Taylor Bachrach, replacing Laurel Collins who is on mat leave, came up with “nine years and 366 days.”  That was ruled to be sufficiently different from the Green amendment they had just voted down.  It was obvious to me then that any amendment from the Greens was going to be killed for no higher principle than that it was Green.

I give more detail here in this piece in the National Observer (please post and share as much as possible before the committee resumes at 3:30 EST tomorrow.): https://www.nationalobserver.com/2021/05/28/opinion/climate-emergency-weak-climate-change-act-being-steamrolled-through-parliament

It would take a miracle to get C-12 to be remotely consistent with the other strong climate laws around the world through this committee.  Clearly, Wilkinson – and his political higher ups, do not want a climate accountability. They want the appearance of climate accountability. I predict it will be rushed through the House.  But I do have hopes for the Senate to take the time needed to actually listen to evidence.  Still, it would be best if an uproar from citizens chastens the Liberals and NDP to actually insist on a stronger bill.

The other news this week that left us flattened, all of us, was the discovery of the remains of 215 little children – killed by the Government of Canada and the Catholic Church at the Kamloops Residential School. Unanimously, all parties agreed to fast track Bill C-5, moving through several stages of the bill in several hours. On behalf of Greens, Jenica Atwin gave an incredibly powerful and emotional speech.  I am so proud of her. https://www.kamloopsthisweek.com/sports/high-school/2.7227/mps-pass-bill-creating-national-day-for-truth-and-reconciliation-1.24324274

Hope you all have a happy Sunday and a warm welcome to June. Wish me luck tomorrow in clause by clause!



P.S. In case you missed it, here is a recording of our wonderful 10th anniversary party!  Featuring Annamie Paul, David Suzuki, David Coon, Mike Schreiner, Lorna Crozier, Pat Carney, Cate May Burton and Sylvia Olsen and many more!!!

Feel free to share it.


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