Friday, November 21, 2014

Burnaby Mountain



                                                                     Burnaby Mountain
  Yes, a lot of people, both native and non-native, are angry at Kinder Morgan over Burnaby Mountain. I understand this anger.  I also understand how and why a court injunction was used against the protesters at Burnaby Mountain. What is a court ordered injunction?
When a private company’s work is being interfered with by people who protest the work, then the company can go to court and ask a judge to make an order stating that the protesters have to stop interfering. The judge will almost certainly give the injunction.  He or she will almost certainly have been a corporate lawyer before becoming a judge.  So with injunction in hand and read to the protesters the police can then be called to come arrest people who won’t get out of the way of the bulldozers.  If anybody refuses to stand down they will be arrested and taken to jail and charged with Contempt of Court.
They will be presented with an undertaking which is a promise to appear before a judge on a certain date.  The arrestees will be allowed to go free if they sign the undertaking which also demands a promise not to go back to the arrest site until their court hearing or any other protest site.  With undertaking signed, the arrestee is set free until their trial date. How does this work out in real time?  Not good. The arrestee is essentially washed out of the protest.  He or she can’t go back to the protest, can’t join any other protest, and at trial must apologize to the presiding judge for disobeying a court order, and or, pay a fine and do some community work.  The alternative to this disgusting, degrading scenario?  Refuse to sign the undertaking. Stay in jail.  When people do this there is a transfer of power.  The powers that be won’t know what to do with such protesters as they have become political prisoners in a country that isn’t supposed to have political prisoners.
 If one defends oneself in the courtroom when brought before the judge one can speak one’s own piece to a crowded courtroom full of supporters and media.  The fate of the Burnaby Mountain would become international news  if two or three of the protesting people, native and non- native, simply  refused…refused to move from the site when ordered, refused to sign the undertaking, refused to apologize to the judge, refused any kind of punishment designed to wash them out of the system.  Courage is contagious.  The corporations would rant and rave and threaten to make protesters pay millions of dollars (they are bluffing, they just want the court to charge protesters with Criminal Contempt of Court instead of Civil Contempt so they don’t have to pay court costs).  And protesters won’t have a criminal record because Contempt of Court is not coded (not in the Criminal Code as a crime per se.)
I realize that not everybody involved with Burnaby Mountain can put their affairs on whole and stay in jail for weeks, maybe months on end while being held for Contempt of Court.  All I can say is that during this time there will be many court hearings and jailed protesters  will have many opportunities to physically, morally and spiritually stand up for the earth in which we all live and move and have our beings.  Again, courage is contagious. The mayor of Burnaby has discouraged people from taking this hard road as he is confident of a win in court.  I hope he is right, but my own years of experience with the courts of BC over environmental protests tells me the mayor may be expecting too much and if the protesters want to save Burnaby Mountain they must do it themselves.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Justin Trudeau, Naomi Kline on CBC



Justin Trudeau, Naomi Kline on CBC

On last Sunday’s CBC Sunday Edition, Michael Enright interviewed both Justin Trudeau and Naomi Kline, well known writer and activist.  Trudeau was interviewed first.  He was strong on preserving Canadian women’s right to safe, legal abortions.   Abortion is still a contentious subject and Trudeau didn’t flinch in his decision that Federal Liberal MP’s, should they form the government, must not vote against a women’s right to choose. I admire him for this.  Especially at a time when the US is losing ground on the issue, and even imploding in some states.   But Trudeau is weak when it comes to raising taxes on the wealthy (he won’t).  He isn’t that strong either, in my opinion, on the environment (he promotes the Keystone XL pipeline).  Naomi Kline certainly has my vote on the environment as she points out that it is the capitalist system that is killing the planet.  But that leaves me with disquiet.  While Kline sees the redistribution of wealth as a must before we can progress as humans, a socialist thinking I share, she doesn’t see women as being pivotal in this transformation.  At least she doesn’t say so.
In her interview, Naomi Kline was careful to emphasize that she didn’t consider motherhood as being the impetus for her own worry about the environments as she was three years into her latest book “This Changes Everything” before her first child was born.  I agree that women don’t have to be mothers to be worried about the environment.  Women don’t have to be mothers to be feminists.  But there is a difference between women and men.  Women’s brains and nervous systems are wired differently from men’s brains in order to accommodate the necessary reproductive work of building and nourishing infants’ bodies. This biological difference influences the thinking and feelings of women whether they ever actually have a baby or not.  Because of this, I believe we will never have the transformation into a higher human consciousness that encompasses a “deep ecology” unless and until women demand it.  So back to Justin Trudeau.

Why does Trudeau’s polices of insisting that Liberal MP’s always vote to protect women’s right to safe legal abortions strike such a deep cord with me?  Two reasons.  Now at eighty-six years old, I was having children back in an era when many desperate women died from bungled amateur abortions.  My own cousin bled to death from one of these attempts. While Canada is not, at the moment, actively trying to bring back the days of what I consider state maternal murder, it is certainly happening in the US.  Many states are losing women’s health centers where abortions are provided, and the provider physicians are being threatened or killed by religious fanatics. 

The second reason that women’s right to safe, legal abortions is so important not only to me, but to human evolution everywhere, is that unless women can control the time and place when they will become mothers, their very ability to control many other aspects of their environment is threatened.  Any concept of human freedom, of individual decision making, of human evolution, depends on the recognition that our bodies belong to us.  It is only when our bodies are recognized as sacrosanct to ourselves and to others, that we, as women, have the self-confidence to say to the men that are tearing up our universe and the women who support them for whatever reasons, “Listen, you guys, stop it!  Just stop it. We will hound you every day, we will shame you, we will not rest nor let you rest until this disgusting destruction of all we hold dear is halted.” Justin Trudeau and Naomi Kline, please get on the same page.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Christy Clark and "Breach of Trust by a Public Officxer



Christy Clark and “Breach of Trust by a Public Officer”

I think there is a slight softening of Christy Clark’s push to break the school teacher’s union because she realizes she may be skating on some thin ice patches.  Legal ones.  In R. v. Boulanger, the Supreme Court of Canada gave a definition of “Breach of trust by a public officer” (Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, s.122) as follows:

“The offence of breach of trust by a public officer is established where the Crown proves eyoung a reasonable doubt that: (1) the accused is an official; (2) the accused was acting in connection with the duties of his or her office; (3) the accused acted with the intention to use his or her public office for a purpose other than the public good, for example, a dishonest, partial, corrupt, or oppressive purpose (58)

I do believe that parents of children in the public school system might have a case in bringing a case of acting dishonestly and oppressively in refusing to accept the teacher’s union offer of binding arbitration.  Binding arbitration is fair and just and to refuse this offer is a corrupt attempt to break the teacher’s union.  Christy Clark is allowing her hatred of the teacher’s union to cause undue suffering to the children and parents of this province.  Legal minds, where are you on this?