As noted in an earlier post, the Canadian government has adopted an antagonistic stance towards environmentalists. This is particularly true of their treatment of Greenpeace. In today's Globe and Mail, Greenepeace Canada's executive director Bruce Cox addressed the issue. You can read Cox's commentary, "Mr. Harper, dissent is vital to democracy," here.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
In 2005 the City of Hamilton's Waste Management Division developed a series of commercials featuring "Blue Box Man." These comical ads, which featured the slogan "Out of the Bag, Into the Box," were designed to increase recycling participation rates in the city. These commercials are still available for your viewing pleasure, thanks to the power of YouTube. Do yourself a favour and enjoy the following short clips ... you might even gain some insight into the "dos and don'ts" of recycling.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
According to a story in today's Globe and Mail, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has branded Greenpeace a "multi-issue extremist" group. This revelation is mentioned in a declassified document from November 2008. As the document explains, such groups "have demonstrated the intent and the capability to carry out attacks against critical infrastructure in Canada."
Greenpeace was founded in 1971. Its initial mission was to stop the detonation of a nuclear weapon underneath Amchitka, one of the Aleutian Islands. In order to do this a rag-tag group of activists loaded into a boat, the Phyllis Cormack, and attempted to navigate their way into the detonation zone. While they were ultimately turned around by a United States Coast Guard vessel, this action set the template for future Greenpeace actions. Greenpeace attempts to draw attention to issues, utilizing media-friendly publicity students. Their tradition is non-violent direct action. (If you're interested in learning more about the history of Greenpeace there is a great book available by Rex Weyler called Greenpeace: How a Group of Ecologists, Journalists, and Visionaries Changed the World.)
There may be some confusion among members of the general public regarding Greenpeace's non-violent approach. Paul Watson, a former Greenpeace member, is renowned for his confrontational tactics, which include ramming ocean vessels that are found poaching or violating other international agreements. Paul Watson does this under the guise of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, NOT Greenpeace. In fact, concern over Watson's interpretation of Greenpeace's non-violent tactics resulted in his removal from the organization's Board of Directors in 1977. The Canadian government could make a case that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society engages in violent confrontations, depending on their definition of "violent." But to suggest that Greenpeace is an organization that has "demonstrated the intent and the capability to carry out attacks against critical infrastructure in Canada" is just plain ludicrous.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Canadian environmentalists are not alone in their fear that the government is trying to de-legitimize their movement through association with terrorists. American journalist Will Porter has a great website devoted to this issue. He calls the efforts to tar environmentalists with the "terrorist" label the "Green Scare." As he notes:
This disproportionate, heavy-handed government crackdown on the animal rights and environmental movements, and the reckless use of the word 'terrorism,' is often called the Green Scare.Much like the Red Scare and the communist witch hunts of the 40s and 50s, the Green Scare is using one word - this time, it's 'terrorist' - to push a political agenda, instill fear, and chill dissent. And much like the Red Scare, the Green Scare is operating on three levels: legal, legislative, and what we'll call extra-legal, or scare-mongering.
Potter keeps his website updated on the latest "eco-terror" stories from the United States, so it is worth checking out if you're interested in this subject. Likewise, he has a book, Green is the New Red, detailing the subject. I haven't read it yet, but plan on doing so soon.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
As if relations between the Canadian government and the environmental community weren't sufficiently strained, the Globe and Mail reports that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews' recently released anti-terrorism strategy lists environmental extremists among its perceived threats. As could be expected, news of this development has gone over like a lead balloon among Canadian environmentalists. As John Bennett, executive director of the Sierra Club Canada noted, "This is just one more step in their attempt to marginalize the environmental movement and to quiet its voice. It’s an indirect suggestion that somehow environmentalism is attached to terrorism and that’s just wrong."
Governmental monitoring of the Canadian environmental movement for alleged extremists is nothing new, as demonstrated by this 1998 Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) document. The Animal Liberation Front lists a series of past activities in Canada on its website. The Earth Liberation Front has claimed some actions in Canada. Wiebo Ludwig, an Albertan who was convicted of bombing oil and gas pipelines, has been classified an eco-terrorist. There is, therefore, a history of eco-terrorism in Canada, albeit a rather limited one.
That said, I can't help but feel that this is just another attempt to alienate the environmental movement in Canada. (Just last month Joe Oliver, the Natural Resources Minister, lambasted "environmental and other radical groups" for their opposition to Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline.) In this respect, the Canadian government is increasingly resembling the Ronald Reagan administration, which orchestrated a massive deregulation of environmental legislation. The American public responded to this governmental hostility by upping their level of support for the country's environmentalist organizations. It'll be interesting to see if Canadians follow suit.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
"The Changing Place of Foxes on Prince Edward Island," is now available for your reading pleasure at the Active History website. Take a look at this post and please feel free to leave a comment. I should note that I went looking for but never found the fox mentioned in the last paragraph. In my mind he is still scampering about Prince Edward Island, none the worse for wear.)
Over at The Atlantic there is a very interesting article about the changing membership composition of Earth First! "The Radicals: How Extreme Environmentalists Are Made" may not make any references to the Canadian environmental movement, but it does show how members of a movement can grow increasingly radical with each passing generation.