I spent the night in a den of wolves while a hundred good people shouted at the walls from out in the cold. It was Wednesday and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) was attempting to seduce municipal politicians from across the province with wine and cheese at the Royal BC Museum.
The event was packed with a dozen skilled public relations people and attended by 200 or so delegates from the Union of BC Municipalities on the eve of their vote on Resolution A8 to stop the expansion of oil tanker traffic through B.C.’s coastal waters. Organized at the last minute by local activists at Social Coast, people lined the entrance to the Royal BC Museum, pleading with UBCM delegates to vote in favour of the resolution.
While Resolution A8 stops short of seeking a complete ban on oil tanker traffic, it does undermine the political legitimacy of any project that would expand traffic on our coast, including pipelines. The resolution demands “that UBCM urge the premier of British Columbia, the leader of the official opposition and members of the legislative assembly to use whatever legislative and administrative means that are available to stop the expansion of oil tanker traffic through B.C.’s coastal waters.”
I was standing outside of a meeting between UBCM delegates and representatives of Kinder Morgan, watching activists strip down in the street and cover themselves in oil when I learned that A8 had scraped by with a three-vote majority on Thursday morning. The UBCM has no power to set provincial policy, but Thursday’s vote represents yet another nail in the coffin of the now infamous series of pipeline projects already opposed by First Nations, environmental advocates and average folks across B.C. and the country.
Despite our status as the provincial capital, Victoria rarely sees this side of politics. Instead, we picket the legislature while politicians wine and dine with oil tycoons deep within Vancouver’s forest of concrete.
By passing resolutions in favour of the decriminalization of marijuana and of halting the ceaseless plundering of our province’s natural environment, this year’s UBCM convention has given our sleepy little town a taste of real politics. While three votes is far from a landslide victory, locals can rest easy in the knowledge that The Capital won’t let this sort of thing slide past without a fight. M