Appearing in the Hamilton Spectator today is a letter by Howard Elliott entitled (by the editors, not by Mr Elliott) "Credibility gone for Line 9 protesters."
I beg to differ. With the editors, not with Mr Elliott. The credibility of Line 9 protesters isn't "gone." They never had any in the first place.
Set aside for the moment the sheer cluelessness of the Line 9 protesters. A recent edition of Ezra Levant's The Source utterly revealed that they have some very funny ideas about the pipeline being currently used to export "tarsands" oil to China -- apparently ignorant of the detail that the pipeline's current flow is east-to-west, that there's no such thing as the "tarsands," and that China is on the other side of the world from where the pipeline would terminate even if it carried Canadian oil east -- and that's one thing. It's also worth noting that until the reversal of Line 9 was proposed -- and approved -- by federal regulators, most of these people had no clue that the pipeline even existed. Its decades-long record of safe operation has kept it safely obscured from media attention until now.
All of this would be one thing. Another is the detail that these people are absolutely clueless as to how to stage a proper civil disobedience protest.
It's not uncommon for some of those staging such protests to be arrested. In fact, it tends to be a goal of the protests: the arrests get them attention and often provoke sympathy for their cause. Provided, of course, that their legal infractions are comparatively minor and that they're essentially being arrested for participating in otherwise well-behaved trespass.
The participants who swamped a Hamilton courtroom this last week didn't even remotely live up to the billing. To the contrary, they were arrested for poor behaviour while doing something -- attending a court hearing -- that was otherwise perfectly legal. Greg Renouf offers an excellent account of the events:
"...Much like the Black Bloc courthouse theatre during the sentencing of G20 vandal George Horton, the protesters got rather out of control during the hearings. They began by applauding the defendants as they spoke to the court- the judge quickly told them to stop or face the consequences. Then, one of the protesters decided to snap instead. The judge wasn’t impressed, and ordered her to be detained and taken out of the courtroom.
Things then quickly degraded. The crowd got more out of control- and, in the end, seven people were arrested. Five were charged with causing a disturbance. Two of the others weren’t so lucky- Alexander Tigchelaar was given an extra count of assaulting peace officers, Patricia 'Trish' Mills was charged with both obstructing and assaulting an officer."
By Elliott's account, the antics continued after the finger-snapping woman was removed from the courtroom:
"After she was removed by a court officer, her colleagues confronted police outside the courtroom, calling them 'pigs' and 'murderers' and generally behaving like thugs."
Perhaps the saddest -- and most amusing -- thing about all of this is that this strategic cluelessness is that it's actually the result of intensive training by senior activists who are supposed to be teaching such people how to get results. So let's consider the results of this particular action for a moment:
More protesters got themselves arrested, and the judge also applied the penalty for this poor behaviour to some of the defendants, who wound up drawing some extra charges on account of it. To top it all off, the general public know knows that the Line 9 protesters are complete idiots.
Well done, nutjobs. Well done.