Rick Bell, writing an opinion piece in the Calgary Sun, explains how environmental activists are preparing to mobilize a “green army” of fellow environmentalist, First Nations members and others to try to, physically, stop the Trans Mountain Pipeline extension (TMX) project. he quotes activist and “war in the woods” (25 years ago) veteran Tzeporah Berman as saying that ““People are getting organized. There is no question if they start building this pipeline there will be resistance.”“
But, Mr Bell says, “when you ask the Trudeau government or the Notley NDP about protests they don’t seem to be bothered. They mumble about the rule of law and move on.” That might be a serious mistake … Ms Berman says that ““They’re either making a terrible calculation and fooling themselves or they’re being dishonest in their public relations in order to create a false sense of certainty and security … [and they’re miscalculating because] … This is the birthplace of Greenpeace. This is one of the most engaged populations in the country on environmental issues and Indigenous rights. It’s not just individuals or environmentalists or hippies who are opposed to this pipeline.”“
Tzeporah Berman, Rick Bell says, “is quick to say no one knows how many will walk the talk but 240 have been arrested since March and blockades haven’t started in earnest because pipeline construction hasn’t started in earnest.“
Now we come to the worrying bit … Mr Bell writes that “In this space, United Conservative leader Jason Kenney said if illegal protests become widespread the Trudeau government may have to look at calling in the army … [but] … Berman thinks the move will backfire … [and, she says] … “I’m shocked someone who wants to become premier of a province in Canada has such a poor grasp of history” … [further, she adds, and I agree] … the army stepping in “will ensure the movement grows.”“
Aid to the civil power, as “sending in the troops is known,” is defined in Part VI of the National Defence Act (§277 to §285). When you cut through the legalize it says that a provincial attorney general may “requisition” the services of the Canadian Forces and, speaking broadly, after some legal review, the Chief of the Defence Staff must provide that aid. This is when, as the act says, “a riot or disturbance of the peace, beyond the powers of the civil authorities to suppress, prevent or deal with” is occurring or about to occur in the opinion of that elected, provincial official. Essentially, the federal government (Justin Trudeau’s government) doesn’t “send in the troops,” they may be called in at the request of (for now, anyway) the Honourable David Eby, a Vancouver lawyer who holds that office. I’m sure Mr Eby is familiar, already with Part Vi of the National Defence Act.
There may well be good reasons for Mr Eby to “call out the troops.” Ms Berman’s friends might very well be out in the thousands, in (probably) well organized attempts to thwart construction activities. It is likely that the protests will be widely dispersed, stretching police resources to and even beyond the breaking point and the protesters will, possibly, be instructed to be totally non-violent and even cooperative as long as there is a substantial civilian police presence but to engage in “a riot or disturbance of the peace” when it appears that the police are insufficient to respond because I am sure that Ms Berman and her friends actually would welcome troops because of the massive, international media attention they would attract …
… because as we learned during the 1990 Oka crisis the Army will win the legal, physical contest but the insurgents are very likely to win the public relations war, and, as I have said, information warfare matters and the techniques that the Gerasimov Doctrine which calls for the propagation sophisticated mainstream and social media disinformation can be used by domestic insure=gents, too.
I believe that the Trans Mountain project is THE key to getting good trade deals with Asia. They, especially the Chinese, but also Japan and India, want, need our oil. We might not be in this predicament if Prime Minister Trudeau had not unilaterally disallowed Northern Gateway and then sabotaged Energy East to pacify the Liberal mayor of Montreal, but that’s all water under the bridge and, now, the TMX project is vital … and it faces determined and, I suspect, large scale popular opposition.
I’m afraid that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has, by his own actions and policies, painted Canada into a “lose-lose” situation and I’m afraid that the British Columbia Attorney general will face situations that are beyond that capacity of his police forces to handle and I fear that may cause the Canadian Forces to face the prospect of a domestic counter insurgency operations … all because Justin Trudeau has miscalculated.