Are you sitting down? If not, you may want to limber up your butt cheeks to attend what promises to be a mass sit-in in front of the provincial legislature on Monday, Oct. 22.
This peaceful act of civil disobedience is intended to send a clear message to the provinvial government that we are not Alberta’s annoyingly scenic bridge to the ocean, and that we prefer our coastlines to remain untarnished by the threat of oil tankers and pipelines.
“There are moments in history when it’s clear that our elected leaders are failing us and it is necessary to take a stand,” says environmentalist Tzeporah Berman. “Today, we are stating our intention to defend our coast and calling on others to join us. The risk of oil spills and irreversible harm to our tourism and fishing industries from these pipelines and tankers is just too great.”
It’s clear from the encouraging support of local community, union, business and First Nation leaders that the organizers aren’t a ragtag group content to shake their fists in the air to let off steam — they actually want the government to stop looking for an oily and short-lived handout from our eastern neighbours and turn its focus toward the future.
“We want long-term green jobs that will take us beyond fossil fuels, not short-term high risk pipelines,” says Susan Spratt, western regional director of the Canadian Auto Workers.
The call for support has gone out across the country with the aim of packing the legislature lawn and making this a truly historic event.
“We hope people from all walks of life and from across the country join us in Victoria and defend the natural beauty and cultural richness of the B.C. coastline,” adds Chief Jackie Thomas, Saik’uz First Nation. “We will be there to show the widespread opposition to tar sands pipelines and tanker proposals and to show the strength of the support for First Nations people’s rights to land and title and the internationally protected right to free, prior and informed consent on any development impacting our traditional territories.”
Two days after the sit-in, local volunteers are planning a province-wide day of action. Rallies will be held on Wed., Oct. 24 outside MLA’s offices across the province where participants will link arms to symbolize B.C.’s unbroken wall of opposition.
Naturally, any form of civil disobedience can result in arrest — and I fully expect there will be a formidable police presence on hand — but since jailtime isn’t the goal of rally organizers, they’re also setting aside clearly marked, non-arrestable areas for supporters to show their solidarity without risk.
The sit-in is scheduled to begin on the legislature lawn at 11 a.m., with guest speakers, such as David Suzuki, and live music. M