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Did rabid anarchists sabotage Coastal GasLink?
The CBC and RCMP think so, but they haven't made a strong case, nor do they appear to know what anarchism is.
The CBC published a piece on April 10, headlined, “When anarchists attack,” which was effectively a feature-length RCMP news release, serving to drag Indigenous land defenders and their allies’ names through the mud based on the thinnest accusations.
The story concerns an attack on the Coastal GasLink pipeline near Houston, B.C. in February 2022, which hasn’t been solved. It’s framed as an exclusive, with the “RCMP revealing key details to CBC News,” although it contains few details beyond vague insinuations of who was responsible for the attack that caused $20 million in damage.
The pipeline, which goes through unceded Wet’suwet’en territory, is supported by the nation’s elected band council, but its hereditary leadership is joined by environmentalists in opposition to expanding fossil fuel infrastructure in the midst of the climate crisis.
According to RCMP Chief Supt. John Brewer, these attacks were the work of “anarchists” who infiltrated the peaceful environmentalist and Indigenous land rights movement protesting the pipeline with the aim of “targeting government, government facilities, government agencies, infrastructure.”
The entire premise of the story is based on this faulty understanding of anarchism — a political ideology that believes the state, and the hierarchies it upholds, must be abolished. Some anarchists engage in violence or sabotage to achieve this end, but that’s a tactic, not an ideology. By conflating the two, the CBC piece makes it sound as if violence is a defining characteristic of anarchism, because the RCMP said so.
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The story, to its credit, does note the behaviour of the “controversial” RCMP Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG), which has repeatedly conducted raids against the protest encampment on behalf of industry:
In three separate raids over three years, the C-IRG forcibly removed Indigenous activists and their supporters from unceded Wet’suwet’en territory (the land was never surrendered or signed over in a treaty). Indigenous protesters accuse the RCMP unit of using undue force, harassment and intimidation. The C-IRG is currently the subject of a federal probe.
The reporters also note that Brewer, their sole source for the core allegation, is in charge of the C-IRG and supports its tactics.
The report quotes protest leader Molly Wickham, in the wake of the most recent C-IRG raid in November 2021, saying “our warriors are not here to be arrested. Our warriors are here to protect the land and water and will continue to do so at all cost.”
It then goes back to law enforcement’s perspective, which the entire story is framed around:
Police believe that intentionally or not, statements like this have served as a rallying cry for the anarchists. About a month after that post went up, a group of 15 to 20 people wearing snow-white camouflage and masks emerged from the forest at the worksite around midnight.
First, the attackers scared off private security by swinging axes into the side of security vehicles and firing flare guns. Then their focus turned to destroying everything on site.
When RCMP tried to respond, they found the only road into the site had been blocked with downed trees, burning tires, wire and an old school bus.
By the time police and private security had cleared the road, the damage had been done. Police say the attackers used a Coastal GasLink excavator at the worksite to destroy other heavy machinery and mobile trailers….
For more than a year, how the attackers escaped remained as mysterious as who was behind those masks that night — until now.
The big reveal? A cop stepped on a piece of wood with a nail protruding from it while the assailants escaped on snowmobiles.
The story then details other attacks of sabotage against pipeline infrastructure, including an arson attack in Smithers, B.C., near the worksite, in which four cop cars and four other vehicles were burned down. The sole evidence of anarchist involvement, beyond the RCMP’s assertion, is that anonymous people on a Montreal-based anarchist message board boasted of committing this act.
Again, through heavy innuendo, Wickham is blamed for inciting the attacks, because she appeared on an anarchist podcast, where she commended the “allyship between Indigenous warriors and anarchists,” adding “that combining those two groups particularly is a really powerful move against the state.”
The story continues: “CBC News has uncovered connections between anarchists and some Indigenous warriors who were invited to the pipeline protest.”
It specifically names three anarchists, detailing legal issues relating to their activism. One of them lives in Mexico.
“None of the people featured in this story have been named as suspects in the attacks. CBC News has no information suggesting they took part in the worksite attack or arson in Smithers,” the story notes, leading to the question of why they just named three people who aren’t suspects while acknowledging there’s no evidence connecting them to the attack.
It’s probably noteworthy that in October 1998 the Mounties colluded with Alberta Energy Company to blow up a shed covering an out of service oil well, which was blamed on “eco-terrorists,” to help an informant get closer to two farmers suspected of sabotaging fossil fuel infrastructure.
Maybe the Coastal GasLink sabotage was a bunch of anarchists; maybe it wasn’t. But the CBC report gives no indication that perhaps we should treat the assertions of law enforcement with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Instead, we have a self-serving narrative that there are wild anarchists on the loose and only the RCMP is equipped to restore order, which is precisely how the RCMP has justified violence against Indigenous Peoples since its inception.
UCP candidate suggests personal responsibility as a heart attack cure on Take Back Alberta-affiliated podcast
Chelsae Petrovic, the UCP candidate for Livingstone-Macleod, who also happens to be the mayor of Claresholm and a nurse, told The Canadian Story podcast that people who’ve had heart attacks need to take “personal accountability,” as first reported by Saif Kaisar at Global News.
“This may be political suicide here, what I’m about to say,” Petrovic cautioned before continuing:
We can look at this and I see it in health care, I’m going to say it: maybe the reason why you had a heart attack was because you haven’t taken care of yourself; You’re extremely overweight, you haven’t managed your congestive heart failure, you haven’t managed your diabetes, and there’s no personal accountability. But they come into the hospital and it’s all of a sudden everyone else’s problem but their own.
The podcast in question is co-hosted by David Parker, the founder of Take Back Alberta (TBA), Daverta editor Dave Cournoyer noted, a shadowy organization that played a key role in mobilizing against former premier Jason Kenney.
Parker gave a pep talk at the Coutts blockade, where he reportedly attempted to recruit members. Another TBA member, Fort Macleod town councillor Marco Van Huigenbos, faces a mischief charge in relation to the blockade.
TBA’s goals are to prevent any future pandemic restrictions or vaccine mandates, to restructure Alberta Health Services and prevent online voting.
It just so happens that TBA recently took over the constituency association for Livingstone-Macleod as part of broader efforts to seize the UCP party machinery. To that end, they’ve taken over the UCP provincial board, and constituency associations in Rimbey–Rocky Mountain House–Sundre and Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.
Eric Bouchard, who seems to share all of TBA’s views, is the candidate for Kenney’s former Calgary-Lougheed riding.
Petrovic’s remarks are reminiscent of Premier Danielle Smith’s assertion during the UCP leadership race that people with stage four cancer should “think of everything that built up before you got to stage four and that diagnosis, that’s completely within your control and there’s something you can do about that that is different.” I suspect this synergy is no coincidence.
For libertarian purists like Smith, everything is an individual responsibility. Now TBA is looking to run a slate of Smith clones.
In other news …
A leaked tranche of U.S. intelligence documents reveals the depth of U.S. involvement in Ukrainian efforts to repel Russia’s invasion and a sentiment among U.S. officials that Ukraine’s war efforts aren’t going as well as publicly depicted.
The documents claim Russian hackers have disrupted an unnamed Canadian natural gas pipeline, but Canadian Gas Association president and CEO Timothy Egan said he’s unaware of any cyberattacks on Canadian gas distribution infrastructure.
LGBTQ rights group Egale Canada has asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to ban Fox News from cable packages, citing primetime host Tucker Carlson’s transphobic scaremongering.
Homeless shelters in Vancouver are being forced to turn people away due to overcrowding after the city dismantled a Downtown Eastside encampment.
The Dalai Lama is a nonce.
The A/V Corner
Watch: MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan grills petulant man child Matt Taibbi over factual inaccuracies in his Twitter Files reporting and how chummy Taibbi’s gotten with the oligarchs and Republican politicians he used to savagely lambast. Hasan definitely has a bit of an annoying debate kid demeanour, but his criticisms of Taibbi’s sad trajectory are spot on.