Yesterday, the government of Canada accepted the recommendations of the Joint Review Panel on the Northern Gateway Pipeline, and approved its construction. 209 conditions were attached to the approval.
Immediately, the anti-pipeline far-left and their supporters in Canada's mainstream left-wing political parties voiced their opposition to the decision. NDP leader Thomas Mulcair declared that it was a threat to Canada's civil order. (Whatever that's supposed to mean.) Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised that Northern Gateway "would not become a reality" if he becomes Prime Minister in 2015.
But compared to some of the declarations made by the most radical pipeline opponents, all of this was even tamer than it would otherwise seem.
Speaking to supporters at a rally in British Columbia, Grand Chief Philip Stewart said that the decision was a "declaration of war" against First Nations.
"It's official. The war is on," he declared.
War, huh? While that might seem like common hyperbole, to take it as such from Stewart might be a mistake.
Readers may well recall the Rexton riot of the past year, when RCMP raided an encampment of so-called First Nations "warriors" who were protesting shale gas fracking nearby. (Fracking, like pipelines, is a common cause celibre of First Nations and enviornmental radicals in Canada.) Many attempted to portray it as a heavy-handed act of oppression, but it was soon revealed that the RCMP raided the encampment because it was full of weapons, including firearms and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
(Among the boosters of these thugs was Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who even went so far so suggest that the weapons had been "planted" there by RCMP.)
To the best of my knowledge, Stewart had no involvement with that incident, and minimal involvement at most with its perpetrators.
This isn't to say that when it comes to involvement with violent self-styled First Nations "warriors" that his hands are clean.
In 2010, a group calling itself the Native Youth Movement was deeply involved in protests against the Vancouver Olympics. The name may sound unassuming, almost like it could belong to a church youth group. But the truth is that NYM was actually troublingly violent.
In a YouTube rap video, individuals involved with NYM basically describe themselves as a militia, training with weapons learning lethal tactics, and ready and willing to kill white people. One line in the song declares "if whitey cross that line there's gonna be blood squirtin'." The video declares that they have "politicians on the hitlist who are about to be victims."
The video specifically threatens violence against the police. It features footage of police officers being gunned down with semi-automatic weapons. Another line in the song declares "arresting officers better know we remember your names."
Grand Chief Philip Stewart had no involvement with Elsipogtog that I am aware of. I can't say the same about NYM.
Since 2001, Stewart has associated frequently with NYM -- voicing support for their actions, and sharing speaking engagements with their leaders.
If Stewart, who associates and supports such violent movements, is going to make declarations of war against Canada, it might be best to decide how to deal with it: whether to treat Stewart as a Canadian citizen and lay treason charges or, as he might prefer, as the leader of a sovereign nation. Under the former, it seems pertinent to lay treason charges -- as, after all, it's treasonous for a citizen to make or threaten war against Canada. Under the latter, the consequences for Stewart may be much more dire.
But given his support for and association with violent self-styled wannabe revolutionaries, it seems pertinent to take him at his word.