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Feb 24, 22

Canadian Tire Fire #30: Vancouver Pulls Down Gassy Jack, Pipeline Project Delayed By Sabotage, State Uses Emergencies Act Against Convoy

Screenshot: Global News

This week, we focus on updates from so-called Freedom Convoy protests across the country and the enactment of the Emergencies Act by the federal government. We also look at what seems to be a massive anonymous sabotage action against a Coastal GasLink work site on Wet’suwet’en territory where preparations are being made to drill under the Wedzin Kwa.

Shout-out this week to folks in Vancouver who pulled down a statue of “Gassy Jack,” a racist, pedophilic man who lived in Vancouver in the 1800s. The statue was toppled during Vancouver’s annual memorial Women’s March on February 14, a day where actions take place to honour and remember missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people across so-called Canada.

Finally, this week brought news from the Keeseekoose First Nation in Saskatchewan that they had confirmed the existence of 54 unmarked graves at two nearby residential schools. The newer of the two schools closed in 1969. In the announcement, Ted Quewezance, a former Chief of the First Nation and a residential school survivor stated:

Every time a missing and murdered woman or a girl is identified, it is a reminder of the loss of one of our loved ones. Every announcement of residential schools, residential grave sites re-traumatizes us survivors and our families and our communities.

Mass Sabotage of Coastal GasLink Site Delays Project; Police Begin Manhunt

According to reports released to the media from so-called Canadian law enforcement and Coastal GasLink (CGL), just after midnight on February 17th, reportedly around 20 people participated in a massive destructive blow against the pipeline project on Wet’suwet’en territory that involved pushing CGL workers off the drill pad site where preparations were being made to drill under the Wedzin Kwa. Photos released to the media show extensive damage to CGL equipment and buildings.

A CGL statement reported that workers were forced off the site (but were unharmed) when threatened with axes, fire, and flare guns. When the RCMP attempted to gain access to the site, they found the road blocked by a fallen tree, tar-covered stumps, boards with spikes, and fires along the road. Officers were reportedly pelted with smoke bombs and “flaming sticks,” with one officer reportedly injured.

According to CGL, millions of dollars worth of damage was done to the site, including the toppling and destruction of heavy machinery and the destruction of portable buildings. The damage is currently estimated to be upwards of $6 million.

According to Global News, law enforcement is currently investigating the sabotage and claims to looking closely at several suspects. Video of the action has also been released to the media and photos show graffiti slogans written on buildings reading, “Land Back” and “CGL Evict.”

Unfortunately, much of the focus in the aftermath of the act has been on speculation and conspiracies about who was behind the act. Many commentators have highlighted the apparently highly coordinated nature of the action, its remote location, and the fact that despite pursuit by police, alleged participants were able to disappear into the forest, as reasons that it couldn’t have been carried out by CGL opponents. In response to this type of analysis which diminishes the action rather than celebrating its success, Gord Hill writes:

One of the problems with this conspiracy mongering is that is undermines the effectiveness of this action. The more it spreads and festers the more people question if it was a genuine act of resistance or not. Who does this inspire? In whose interests are acts of Indigenous resistance diminished rather than promoted? I also believe this conspiracy mongering demoralizes those who carried out the action (and who are now being hunted by police). Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

We take this act at face value: a brave action undertaken by individuals who, faced with an existential threat to Wet’suwet’en land and waters, responded with a fraction of the violence that has been done by Coastal GasLink and the colonial state of Canada. We hope that this act inspires others to seriously consider what is at stake and how they can be in solidarity with Indigenous communities – even when actions taken to defend their land don’t fall into a safe, pacifist narrative.

Conspiracy-mongering only serves the interest of the State and divides communities – making it easier for those in power to target vulnerable communities. The risks are too high to justify anything less than unwavering support for this action.

Government Enacts Emergencies Act, Protesters Removed From Downtown Ottawa

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the implementation of the Emergencies Act early this week. This marked the first use of the Act since its creation in 1988. The Act greatly expands government powers, ostensibly to deal with emergency situations that cannot be dealt with by existing laws, and are beyond the capability of existing government systems. The Act comes into effect immediately but must be confirmed by Parliament and the Senate. The Act was debated in Parliament over the course of the week following its implementation, and on February 21st, was passed in the House of Commons. The Act will stay in place for 30 days unless extended, or unless the Senate or House of Commons withdraws their support at any time.

The implementation of the Act has been criticized as a dramatic grab for power from conservatives and left-wing critics of the convoy protests alike. In an article for Spring Magazine, Nora Loreto describes:

It must be said: use of the Emergencies Act isn’t necessary to deal with the convoys — city tow trucks and bylaw enforcement are enough. Even moving the camps off of major arteries and isolating them into adjacent parks or parking lots could have been an option. In Windsor, Ontario, police could have removed the border blockade minutes after it started. Instead, it lasted for six days.

We all know that any protest that challenged the legitimacy of the Canadian state wouldn’t have been allowed to bring in bouncy castles, or have children form symbolic chains to block off routes leading to border crossings. The convoys have been successful thanks to the help of police, who have met these protests with indifference and even support.

The Emergencies Act can give the federal government the power to effectively limit some civil liberties on the ground. As we wait to see what the federal government will do next, Canadians need to keep in mind that this crisis has been entirely invented by people in power.

Among the powers granted by the Emergencies Act is the power to freeze bank accounts. A reported 206 financial accounts have been frozen. This includes the account of organized Tamara Lich, according to her own reports.

While the South Surrey and Windsor area blockades were dismantled by police before the announcement, the blockades in Alberta and Manitoba voluntarily ended after. The people involved in the Manitoba blockade negotiated an end with the police. Part of the agreed terms was that there would be no arrests for the blockaders. The people that were maintaining the Alberta border blockade claim they ended theirs because of the weapons found in a nearby house, with at least one member being linked to the neo-Nazi accelerationist group, Diagolon.

The people that have left the Alberta blockade have discussed doing a convoy to Edmonton on February 22nd, the day of the provincial government throne speech. A poster for the event says participants will walk with MLAs and party staffers. While this remains to be seen, there have been quite a few Alberta MLAs that have shown support for the so-called freedom convoy movement and a few have shown up at the Alberta blockade.

In Ottawa, organizers Chris Barber and Tamara Lich were both arrested by Thursday. The often-disavowed but nevertheless organizer, Pat King, was making plans to duck out and head to the Maritimes but was arrested on Friday. By the end of the weekend, a reported 191 arrests were made in connection with the protests, and tow trucks had cleared the remainder of the vehicles remaining from the protests. CTV news reported that small groups of protesters remained throughout Ottawa under heavy police surveillance.

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A weekly roundup of anarchist and anti-authoritarian news from so-called Canada. Email us at: [email protected]

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