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Climate Justice in Vancouver: "The Time for Compromise is Over"

Rally participants sandbag Vancouver offices of BC premier and cabinet

by Sandra Cuffe (text) and Erin Empey (photos) Environment, →Dominion Stories

Climate Justice rally in Vancouver sandbags office of BC premier and cabinet. Photo: Erin Empey
Climate Justice rally in Vancouver sandbags office of BC premier and cabinet. Photo: Erin Empey
Solidarity Notes Labour Choir serenades climate justice rally in Vancouver. Photo: Erin Empey
Solidarity Notes Labour Choir serenades climate justice rally in Vancouver. Photo: Erin Empey
Former MLA Harold Steves takes direct action for climate justice. Photo: Erin Empey
Former MLA Harold Steves takes direct action for climate justice. Photo: Erin Empey
Sandbag assembly line blockades BC cabinet offices. Photo: Erin Empey
Sandbag assembly line blockades BC cabinet offices. Photo: Erin Empey
Sandbag barricade for climate justice in Vancouver. Photo: Erin Empey
Sandbag barricade for climate justice in Vancouver. Photo: Erin Empey
Indigenous Action Movement founder Cat Norris speaks out at climate justice rally. Photo: Erin Empey
Indigenous Action Movement founder Cat Norris speaks out at climate justice rally. Photo: Erin Empey
World Trade Centre office building blockaded in Vancouver. Photo: Erin Empey
World Trade Centre office building blockaded in Vancouver. Photo: Erin Empey

Also posted by SandraCuffe:

In solidarity with activists in Cancun and people around the world, close to 100 people participated in a climate justice rally in downtown Vancouver today. As a symbolic direct action to highlight the inaction of the government of British Columbia on climate issues, the demonstrators sandbagged the Vancouver offices of the BC premier and cabinet.

Several speakers from local labour, political, and climate justice organizations took to the impromptu stage on the street, as onlookers went about their errands and holiday shopping. Bystanders and demonstrators alike were serenaded with historic social movement songs by the Solidarity Notes Labour Choir and the lively tunes of local band Maria in the Shower.

"Last night was the last day of the climate negotiations in Cancun," explained rally MC Ries Mentink, referring to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, more commonly known as COP-16.

Rally participants shouted their displeasure with the agreement reached in Cancun. The deal is not legally binding and contains no details on carbon emissions reduction targets, nor on budget allocations to the various issues contained in the agreement.

Mentink parodied the official negotiations and agreement: "What about 'we need to protect our rainforests?' Yeah, that's a good idea. Let's talk about it some more."

Calling for immediate action by the BC and Canadian governments on climate issues, the rally marched over to the World Trade Centre building at 999 Canada Place, where the cabinet of the BC government has its Vancouver offices. An assembly line formed to pass sandbags from a truck down two lines of demonstrators all the way to the doors of the building, where a wall of sandbags blockaded the principal entrance.

Throughout the rally and action, a series of local speakers were invited to take the microphone to discuss local issues related to climate disaster and climate justice throughout the lower mainland and BC.

Harold Steves, the former MLA who created the Agricultural Land Reserve in the Fraser valley, spoke out about the freeways threatening the reserve, the recent motion passed by BC's legislature in favour of a tanker ban in BC's coastal waters, and the history of climate justice action in BC.

"In 1968, the first environmental protest in BC that I know of took place," when 4000 people gathered at the Peace Arch border crossing to demand a moratorium on tankers plying BC's waters, said Steves.

"I cannot believe that 40 years later I'm back on the stage, speaking about the same thing," Steves added.

Steves also voiced his disgust with the 3000 acres of farm land taken over by the Vancouver Port Authority to expand coal export operations. Over 29 million tons of coal are shipped out of Roberts Bank each year, releasing more than 20 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, added Steves.

"If we can't shut the coal factories down, at least we can tax them to death, instead of them putting people to death around the world," denounced Steves.

"We are becoming the anti-climate control capital of the world," he added.

Irene Lazinger, the newly elected secretary-treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour, echoed many of the remarks made by both previous speakers, as well as shouts from the crowd.

"We don't have the luxury of waiting. We're tired of the Harper government embarassing us with their heads in the tar sands," said an indignant Lazinger.

The BC Federation of Labour recently passed a resolution condemning the Canadian Senate's killing of Bill C-311. The piece of legislation would hold Canada accountable to its international obligations in greenhouse gas emission reductions, setting specific targets to be met.

"That bill was passed in the House and overturned by the Harper-controlled Senate," explained Lazinger.

Canadian Auto Workers activist Susan Spratt also spoke about the support of the labour movement for the climate justice movement. There can be responsible action and justice for the planet without jeopardizing union jobs, she explained.

"Workers' health is not for sale, nor is the health of the planet," said Spratt.

Indigenous Action Movement founder and First Nations residential school survivor Cat Norris also spoke out to the rally. She highlighted that many of the places discussed, as well as places within Vancouver such as Kitsilano, were inhabited by local First Nations. The majority of BC is unceded indigenous territory.

"Greed is the new apocalyptic monster. Greed is what is keeping the destruction of our lands and water alive," said Norris.

"A big change can happen as long as we stand together," Norris added.

As the rally stood in front of the wall of sandbags, Mentink called out to Gordon Campbell, to the laughter of the crowd: "Oh Campbell, we're calling you... The people are waiting for you... Come out...Knock, knock..."

While the demonstration slowly dispersed, many stuck around to sing along to the tunes sung by both the Solidarity Notes Labour Choir and Maria in the Shower. The high spirits and the urgency of action on climate justice was evident among rally participants.

"After 50 years, there is no time left for compromise," said Harold Steves, adding that "[the] time for compromise is over!"

A demonstration against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project was announced for next week, to the cheers of those gathered. The "uncelebration of Enbridge" will take place this coming Thursday, December 16th at noon, outside the Enrbidge office at 505 Burrard Street.

Rally MC Ries Mentink asked: "Bob, do we have any sandbags left?"
 

*** Article by Sandra Cuffe *** All photos by Erin Empey *** For more information, check out GatewaySucks.org *** Watch an excellent short video of the rally and action at this link

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Comments

If they haven't listened for 40 years its time to STOP

Considering much of what we are witnessing is falling on deaf ears,here is my idea,

 

STOP!!!

 

I’m eager to share an idea I have with you all. It has the potential to dramatically create the change we have all been looking for.

 

I’m sharing this idea with 350 org, Avaaz, Repower America, Greenpeace, Earth Hour, Sky1, WWF, TED. 4YG and so many other activists groups who I believe can assist in this cause.  It’s my hope that my idea draws together the significant people who have the influence to make this happen.

 

The idea is so simple; all it will require is a COLLABORATIVE campaign that can be posted on every website that is already seeking change. It’s something that will finally put the world leaders on notice once and for all.

Why?

Because the masses will finally cause the impact, the final blow, to a system that is so out of control.

How?

STOP!!!

The campaign will use the internet to spread the word. A new powerful campaign will be organised and titled, for example, ‘The World is About to STOP” or “On X date in X Month in 2011 the world will STOP!!!” or ‘There is something significant about to happen on the Planet’. The further detail will then revel that people throughout the world will simply “down tools” and turn the system off.  We are all going to completely STOP what we are doing because we have realised that we are the problem, we are the pain and we are being controlled by a system that is controlling us.  We will simply not consume, (no computers, no power consumption, no cars, no nothing) but rather enjoy and APPRECIATE our surroundings. This will prompt the realisation that we are one with nature rather than separate or superior to it.We can all involve ourselves in this peaceful protest and see if this calms the insanity for a day long enough to create change for future lifetimes. 

Meanwhile, a set of insistent requests will be issued to the world leaders and if not immediately acted upon then the people of the world will already know through our pre-planning stage that we will again STOP in (for example) exactly 2 weeks for 2 days, then again in 2 weeks for 3 days etc until we get our so called leaders doing what ‘we’ tell them to do. The demands will spell it out as clear as day. (These demands will need to be worked on by some of you)

 

Just imagine how our system would react.  Chaos would reign throughout the world. The whole system would shut down. Consumerism would be dealt its biggest blow yet.  Annie Leonard sums it up brilliantly in her work The Story of Stuff. Annie calls it the ‘material economy’ or ‘trashing the planet’. Her video has been watched by millions of people. You can watch the video here. http://www.storyofstuff.com/.

 

Is this ‘STOP’ campaign irresponsible? I believe it’s the most responsible thing we can do on our planet!  We need to get off the destructive path we are on and change the way we do things before we destroy what is left. We are running out of time and soon we will run out of options.  The reality is that not ‘all’ people will get involved, for one of many reasons and that’s completely fine.  However there will be millions that do, especially those people who have already joined the thousands of activists groups.  There are hundreds of thousands of these groups!   The millions that will join this campaign will cause a massive ripple effect that will stir enough attention to a system that is in serious trouble.

 

We now have enough people throughout the planet that are educated and totally aware of what we are doing to our planet.  The right time has come to take this type of action.  There are enough people ready to act.  And if ever there was a place in history for this to be needed, it’s now!

Let’s down tools and get noticed.

Anyone interested in helping out can contact me at garyscholz at bigpond dot com 

BC Fed attempting to labour-wash this direct action

Awesome action today everyone! Well done! I am shocked however at the presence of the BC Fed at today's action. What a joke that the BC Failure of Labour attended this direct action. Total bullshit! The board of the fed doesn't support direct action! Instead, they work hard to silence political dissent! They even tried to silence a delegate at their own convention last week when the delegate spoke out against Ken Georgetti's (president of the Canadian Labour Congress - national governing body of the fed) public criminalization of ideology during the G20 in Toronto when he publicly stated  “Our rally and march were entirely peaceful from start to finish. It appears that a small group of anarchists, who are unknown to us, became involved in some violent and destructive activities as the day progressed. We condemn these actions and we will continue to exercise our democratic right to free expression in a peaceful manner at all times.” A labour 'leader' condemning ideology and direct action? All gains throughout the labour movement have been won through the direct actions initiated by anarchists. Do your homework Sinclair! Jim Sinclair and his legion of the labour lackeys  are just another tool of the State to silence dissent and maintain the status quo. Jim Sinclair is a lying, cheating, rich ass who couldn't give a toss about anyone other than himself and his equally spineless wife.  He's been the "leader" of the labour (non) movement for 21 years. In that time we have seen BC's poverty rate sky-rocket to the highest in the country for over 8 years as well as the freeze on a minimum wage for over 8 years. The fed is still pushing their bullshit $10 now campaign to raise the minimum wage which is essentially campaigning for poverty wages. This from the labour movement? Unfortunately it's not surprising given the lack of movement within labour over the past 60+ years. Why is labour encouraging a MINIMUM WAGE at all? MINIMUM? SHAME ON YOU JIM SINCLAIR along with all the other suits masquerading as labour activists! I can't believe the fed had the nerve to show their disgraceful face at this action! Oh yeah, at the BC fed Youth conference last week Sinclair declared Gordo's resignation a result of the Fed's pressure on him. He has got to go already! Gordo and Carole are gone. 2 down, and Jim to go.

 

 

 

 

 

Don't be quite so shocked

Anachist wrote: "Awesome action today everyone! Well done! I am shocked however at the presence of the BC Fed at today's action."

This action was aimed at building a movement for climate justice, and I personally hope that  labour activists will be a significant part of creating even more awesome actions. People from unions were involved in organizing the action and doing the basic work like renting the sound system.

The presence of a (newly elected) speaker from the BC Federation of Labour came about through a vote at the BC fed convention. A lot of union shop stewards and other grassroots union activists heard about the issue and supported it - which was largely our goal.

Building a movement involves the messy work of reaching out to lots of different groups and people, including those who have strongly conflicting views on issues and tactics. You can't  and shouldn't trust everyone and every group associated in some way with a broad movement.

re: Anarchist against labour-washing

Anarchist against labour-washing, thank your for speaking out and keeping the movement honest. you have some valid points.

it's worth noting that there has been a good deal of solidarity with the CAW bus drivers on this issue and more is probably needed.

anarchists have contributed a great deal in this struggle and gone to the wall with us and it will not be forgotten. more power to you.

Cat Norris was beautiful

That was probably the most inspiring speech I've heard in ages, with a very sharp point about the role that the reservation system played in the genocide: I had never heard anyone articulate that point so succinctly. Hopefully a video of that will appear on the VMC at some point.

video & Cat Norris' speech

I don't really know who was shooting video, although I did run into someone at the end of the rally who said he would try to edit some of the video clips he took on his point-and-shoot camera into a video to post on VMC.

I recorded some audio, including some of the music and Cat's speech. About 60% is decent quality audio and the rest has way too much background noise. So I'll try to edit that into a little soundtrack for a slideshow of Erin Empey's photos & post as a video on VMC. Just have to figure out how to do all that...

Ask Tami

Tami's got the software for that sort of stuff. I've got 5 hours of footage myself that I'm hoping to dump onto her laptop and edit someday. Also, if we manage to make one of the VMC macs more readily accessible, then they can definitely take care of this sort of thing: the day will come.

Cool

Thanks, Dawn gave me a couple tips, but I'll check in with Tami tomorrow. & I'd love to learn more video editing (i've co-edited on final cut pro, but never done it myself) once the macs are available somewhere.

video

my video is now up here - http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/video/direct-action-climate-justice/5424

unfortunately i didn't get footage of her speech but i did get some of her song. (i wasn't originally intending to produce a video of this event but i ended up with just enough footage to stitch together a clip)

Awesome video!

It's great. I put a hyperlink to it at the very very end of the article too.

Thanks

This is amazing.

CONGRATULATIONS FROM CANCUN!!!!

I woke up this morning in Puerto Morelos, Mexico (30 minutes outside of Cancun) to read this beautiful article about what you did Vancouver.  The last two weeks in Cancun I heard time and time again how the Canadian government thwarted the UN climate talks any chance they had (I think we won Fossil of the Year again!). Reading this article put a big smile on my face:-). It also gave me hope. And I thank you for that.

I want you to know that you are not alone. My name is Derek Leahy and I am the initiator of International Stop the Tar Sands Day. This year we organized demonstrations in Berlin, London, Paris, Vienna, Copenhagen, Ontario and Utah (even Smithers, BC did a solidarity action!) in support of shutting down the tar sands. 2011 is the year our event explodes. We need as much help as possible to make this happen.

Please get in contact with myself (derek.ourdecade@gmail.com) or our Canada contact person (Sonia - bitume.canada@gmail.com) if you think you can help us. Lets make this thing as big as possible!

On facebook group in English

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=115711035131958

and French

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=143339532376200

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS FROM CANCUN!!!!

I woke up this morning in Puerto Morelos, Mexico (30 minutes outside of Cancun) to read this beautiful article about what you did Vancouver.  The last two weeks in Cancun I heard time and time again how the Canadian government thwarted the UN climate talks any chance they had (I think we won Fossil of the Year again!). Reading this article put a big smile on my face:-). It also gave me hope. And I thank you for that.

I want you to know that you are not alone. My name is Derek Leahy and I am the initiator of International Stop the Tar Sands Day. This year we organized demonstrations in Berlin, London, Paris, Vienna, Copenhagen, Ontario and Utah (even Smithers, BC did a solidarity action!) in support of shutting down the tar sands. 2011 is the year our event explodes. We need as much help as possible to make this happen.

Please get in contact with myself (derek.ourdecade@gmail.com) or our Canada contact person (Sonia - bitume.canada@gmail.com) if you think you can help us. Lets make this thing as big as possible!

On facebook group in English

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=115711035131958

and French

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=143339532376200

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS FROM CANCUN!!!!

I woke up this morning in Puerto Morelos, Mexico (30 minutes outside of Cancun) to read this beautiful article about what you did Vancouver.  The last two weeks in Cancun I heard time and time again how the Canadian government thwarted the UN climate talks any chance they had (I think we won Fossil of the Year again!). Reading this article put a big smile on my face:-). It also gave me hope. And I thank you for that.

I want you to know that you are not alone. My name is Derek Leahy and I am the initiator of International Stop the Tar Sands Day. This year we organized demonstrations in Berlin, London, Paris, Vienna, Copenhagen, Ontario and Utah (even Smithers, BC did a solidarity action!) in support of shutting down the tar sands. 2011 is the year our event explodes. We need as much help as possible to make this happen.

Please get in contact with myself (derek.ourdecade@gmail.com) or our Canada contact person (Sonia - bitume.canada@gmail.com) if you think you can help us. Lets make this thing as big as possible!

On facebook group in English

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=115711035131958

and French

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=143339532376200

 

 

Right on!

Hi Derek,

Glad you saw the news while down there. Awesome! Glad you liked it. It was a really high-spirited, joyous action.

And I'm sure others reading your comment may connect with you re the International Anti-Tar Sands day.

Thanks!

Solidarity,

Sandra

Thanks

Thanks for totally idnoring my post!

Your post(s)

Hi Gary,

I did not ignore your post. The comments are open for discussion. I personally tend to respond when someone responds directly to my original article, which your comment did not. Most authors do not even bother to respond to any comments whatsoever. I do not respond to every single comment, but I do try to respond to as many as I can, if I have any gratitude or response to add to their comments *about* my post.

I left your comment because I am not particularly active in the "climate justice movement." I reported on the rally, but my activism is on other issues, and more specific actions. I do not have the experience or interest to respond to your proposal. Many others who read the article would have the experience and interest. Whether they comment or not is up to them.

That said, I do appreciate your comments, and hope that your proposal can be discussed, whether on this open comment section or elsewhere. You may be interested a draft proposal to get a Climate Justice Coop going that has generated a lot of discussion. You are most welcome to comment on any/all MediaCoop posts, but if your comment does not directly respond to the original article or post, there may be discussions taking place elsewhere that would provide a better space for feedback. Here is the link to the Climate Justice Coop draft proposal: http://www.climatejusticecoop.org/

Saludos,

Sandra

video up

thanks for the write-up and pics. i just uploaded my video here: http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/video/direct-action-climate-justice/5424

thanks for the video

it's really well done!

:)

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