In the website, there is a motto that essentially says that if you want to build a revolution you want to seem less dangerous. One way to do so is to be less dangerous, the other is to be funny, you say. What do you think of being militant? Not compromising? Resorting to radical measures? Like Malcolm x said, by any means necessary. What do you think of that?
I think it’s a pattern often repeated, that Martin Luther King would not have been as effective without Malcolm X. The same is true for Ghandi. Ghandi was Ghandi, but there was a Malcolm X, also. And there are people, if nothing else, that derive the powers that be towards the people that are willing to have rational dialogue. But the society without a choice doesn’t have any dialogue at all. So I think there is a place for radical action and, in fact, I think that as with the pipelines here in Canada, nothing less than actually getting in the way of bulldozers is going to work. There is so much money involved, and China is such a powerful force, and China does not have the democratic protections that we have and so on, that only that kind of physical action is going to work, and I think that is the way for the future. Now, I don’t want to see people get hurt or killed, I don’t even want to see people look at the police or the army or other peacekeepers as ‘the other side’; I want people to see them as human beings with families and children. Because the 1% would rather that we all fight among ourselves — and cops are part of the 99%. The First Nations people I work with, there is only 100% for them. It’s only us and the animals and the corporate CEOs and we’re all the same. So there is no fight, there is only a choice with what we are going to do with the Earth….So when they choose to stand up and say, ‘it aint going here, you can do whatever you want, but it’s not going through my land’, there is no fight, it’s just a statement. I’m not against you, I don’t hate you, this is just not happening here. And if everybody in their individual little pieces of ground everywhere said, ‘you can do what you want but it’s not happening here’, then it doesn’t happen anywhere. And I think that’s what it’s going to be: it’s going to be a very local standing up and saying, you can run pipelines through Valdez, Alaska if you want, but not through Vancouver. That’s what we are doing: we are just protecting our little piece of ground. And that’s what it boils down to. Everyone is going to have to protect their own little piece of ground.
It’s a great message, I love it. Just two more questions, the first can be off the record. Can you give me your opinion about socialism or communism in general?
Well my degree is in economics originally, so we study those theories as economic theories as opposed to political or cultural theories. Socialism became conflated with communism in the US, which is where I grew up, and obviously they are not the same thing. That they both got a dirty word, it doesn’t take only dirty words, which is bizarre, because social security for instance has the word SOCIAL in it, and you know all the remedial reforms are all socialism.
So people are like, ‘I hate the government but don’t take away my health care, goddamn it!’ Because they are really all socialists, they just don’t know it.
What are your opinions of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela?
Yeah, I think he is a complex human being. I mean anybody that hates George Bush that much I immediately have affection for. Even getting a picture of him is so difficult because it is a ‘social picture’ in western media, and they demonize so much. He is clearly not a perfect human being, and I’m probably fonder of the guy next door who was a peasant, the president of Bolivia. But, yeah, Chavez, he is certainly trying to hold on to a Latin American identity in face of US Imperialism, which is very difficult. But he is also making deals with China; his wealth comes from the Oronoco, which are worse than the Tar Sands, the East goddamn marriage is absolutely destroying the climate. It’s a mixed bag.
What are your opinions on the XL pipelines? It was rejected, but there are plans for a new pipeline, no?
The Keystone XL was blocked in the U.S. temporarily but will be approved. Obama is just booting it until after the elections, but it will be rubber-stamped at some point. The Embridge Northern Gateway Pipeline is probably dead, just because there is so much First Nations opposition. But both of those are essentially decoys, in my opinion. The real pipeline is the one that already exists, and that’s the Kinder Morgan Pipeline. Kinder and Morgan are two Enron billionaires; the ones who cheated their own investors, Jeffrey Skilling went to jail, you know, those guys. [Indiscernible]…What Enron will tell you is that they bought Terasen Gas here in BC, which owned the Trans-Mountain Pipeline that was done in the ‘50s. They bought the company for a year – which is the required length of time for foreigners to own a company – they kept it for 365 days, flipped the company, [Kinder and Morgan] kept the pipeline. If foreigners buy a Canadian company, they have to hold it for 365 days before selling it. They stopped all maintenance on everything in Terasen Gas; they didn’t spend a dime on it. Then they flipped the company a year later, and kept the pipeline. That was in 2005. And that was happening at exactly the same time that the Gateway project was being funded by taxpayers in B.C. The Gateway project was ostensibly to build more highways and bridges for the poor commuters who had deferred the cost to the planet by moving away from the city. But it had nothing to do with that. The Gateway project was about building infrastructure: new oil from the Tar Sands into the port of Vancouver and then shipped to China, that’s what it would be about. Both things happened at the same time. They were clearly coordinated between the harper government and Campbell government in B.C. The taxpayers paid five billion dollars for the Gateway project to build the infrastructure to move oil, and five years later, Kinder and Morgan just announced that they want to triple the capacity of that pipeline from 300,000 barrels a day to 850,000 barrels a day. It’s almost twice what Keystone is. And that’s the battle, because they already have the right of way. So they’re just building on an existing right of way.
So they just want to expand what’s already there?
They want to take it up to basically a one-million-barrel-tanker going through the port of Vancouver. Just for reference, the Exxon Valdez spill was ¼ of million barrels. Today, it would be a tanker with four times the amount of oil at the port of Vancouver. So that’s what we’re on a battle about…Together with the first nations here, who have the constitutional rights, we are working to just put an end to tanker traffic. Because they can build as many pipelines as they want, they can put it on rails, put it on ox carts, do whatever they want, but if they can’t ship it from the right place, it doesn’t matter.
And that land is owned by the natives there?
The Kinder Morgan pipeline comes through the Westridge Terminal in Burnaby, but the shipping is out of Burrard Inlet, which is the First Nations’ private sailors’ sea. And the Burrard Inlet is the traditional territory of the Tsleil-Wautuh; but behind where the Westridge Terminal is, is all toiletry…then as you come further out into the coast, it’s the Maskah on the south and the Squamish on the north. That they create sands between them, this is the traditional territory, and again it’s never been ceded in any treaty. The city of (47:05 Sitron?) has never been ceded.
What is it that they are basing their projects on? Why do they think they have the right to go and pump the land for oil if it’s never been ceded in treaty? Are there any legal arguments being held?
They think that they can get away with it. That’s in the courts. The government maintains that the First Nations don’t have a veto right. They have a right of consultation, but not a veto right. One of the provincial courts just said, ‘that’s stupid. Consultation doesn’t mean you lost it and then do whatever you want’. Consultation has to be taken into account…the first time a judge has ever said that! So if the courts actually gave the First Nations a veto power over what happens on the land, from a Chinese/Pipeline/Oil Company stand point that would be catastrophic. But they are just rolling ahead because they think they can get away with it.
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