Letters Feb. 13: Why protests need to be disruptive; don't condone law-breaking

A four-point guide for protesters

Let me start by saying that I am all in favour of civil disobedience. The right to protest government decisions and actions is, in fact, the difference between a free society and one that is not free.

People should be able to take actions to oppose their government. With four provisos. In order of importance:

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First, the protesters must be willing to go to jail. The essence of civil disobedience is martyrdom. The protester has to be willing to suffer to make his or her point, and going to jail makes a stronger point than standing around in the cold, or standing next to a fire, sacred or otherwise. Anyone who claims to be a protester but doesn’t want to be arrested is more poseur than protester.

Secondly, the protest should be peaceful. You want to destroy things, go somewhere else. China or Russia, for instance. And good luck.

Thirdly, the protest has to take place where the perceived offense was committed, or where it can be mitigated. In the current case, that would be anywhere along the pipeline route, or at the house of government, the legislature building. Closing down streets, or bridges, or trains, or universities, or anything similar, is pointless. If the aim is to gain support, it won’t work. In fact, it will have the opposite result.

Fourthly, the protesters should understand the issue. The current protesters claim that they are supporting the right of hereditary chiefs to decide what should be done with their land. I’d like to ask any of these people what they actually know about the issue, starting with what they know about Helen Michelle, hereditary chief of the Skin Tyee nation.

Ian Cameron
Brentwood Bay

Why protests need to be disruptive

Disruptive protests are really the last resort, because they are so aggressive.

Protests are meant to draw attention to an issue where a party is aggrieved.

If the public doesn’t pay attention for myriad reasons and the powerful don’t act on it for selfish reasons, then what recourse does the aggrieved party have?

In this case, the courts failed, the politicians failed, the media failed, the public for their part, failed to care. So disruption is what’s left.

Disruption risks inconveniencing and entrenching hostile attitudes, but it also hits the powerful in their wallets and makes them feel the anger of their own constituents to act.

Mark McInnes

Law-breaking should not be condoned

I rarely share my opinion with others (everyone has one) but I have had enough of the illegal blockages and inconvenience to people who just want to get on with their lives. It is time for our politicians to get some cojones and put a stop to this idiocy. Whether you agree with them or not is not the issue. Breaking the law should not be condoned and these recent protests (B.C. legislature and major travel routes) are serving no purpose other than holding the country at ransom.

The idiot that said they were going to shut down Canada should get a grip on reality.

Enough is enough.

Larry Cole

Don’t trample on legal rights of Canadians

I have no problem with protesters, until they trample on the legal rights of the majority of Canadians. No minority group, including First Nations, has the right to tell the majority of Canadians what they can or can’t do.

As soon as protesters block citizens to public access and/or trespass on private property, they should be arrested.

This country belongs to all Canadians and in this democracy, it is the majority that decides what all the land can be used for.

It is time for law enforcement and the government to start protecting the right of free movement on public property instead of kowtowing to the illegal blockages of protesters.

Tony Markle

Rule of law has been suspended

Our country is being held hostage by a small group of militants and their followers. Ports, railways and roadways have been shut down, affecting the lives of countless Canadians across the country. Apparently, we are powerless to stop them.

I can hardly wait for the next special interest group to shut down our country and the one after that and the one after that.

The door has been left wide open and the invitations sent out. The rule of law has been suspended.

I have never been so embarrassed to be a hopeless Canadian.

David Anderson

Protesters’ actions immature and boorish

Like many who fear we are destroying our planet, I am totally against running gas, oil, bitumen, etc. pipelines through sensitive territories. However, I would never dream of causing problems for my fellow Canadians by closing down roads, bridges and ferry terminals. Such actions by protesters are selfish, immature and boorish. If you are against the actions of government and big business, deal with them directly. Don’t punish me for the actions of large institutions!

The old adage still holds true: two wrongs don’t make a right.

Cheera J. Crow

What if it were the other way around

If today’s indigenous people had been the conquerors, occupied my traditional territory, placed my family on reservations, taken my kids away for schooling and wantonly built roads, railroads, and oil and gas pipelines across this my ancient land it is not improbable that I as a white person would be equally disturbed and be practising various methods of civil disobedience to voice my concerns.

Sadly once again we all wait for government to “fix” it. Fat hope apparently.

Graeme Roberts
Brentwood Bay

The 15% who will make a difference

A recent poll indicates 15% of respondents support protesters working to protect our environment. This is not surprising. It has always been like this, probably always will. These are the 15% who will bring about change. Some day schools and streets will be named after them.

Tom Masters

Learn from those who don’t have a voice

Whatever you might believe about who is right and who is wrong in the situation between settlers’ governments and First Nations authorities, it’s important to realize where First Nations are coming from.

They — along with others in the country who don’t have money and power — have found that, over the years, they have had to fight a losing battle with the companies and governments that make up rules to suit their own interests. You want to construct a mine or frack for gas? Well you won’t get away with leaving huge open pits and polluted water on Snob Hill. Just put those things down the road, where people don’t have the pull to stop you.

What First Nations and other under-represented groups do have, is experience in dealing with situations like gas-polluted water you can light on fire as it comes out of your water taps and polluted fields and streams that destroy your property and the foods growing on your land.

Maybe we should be listening when wise elders tell us that we need to care for Mother Earth and that water is more precious than any petroleum products you’d care to mention. People can find plenty of work building renewables and cleaning up various messes left behind by irresponsible entrepreneurs and uncaring companies.

Jean Jenkins

Protesters should have been moved aside

I have been dismayed over the last few days with the anarchic behaviour of those who seek to prevent the construction of the LNG pipeline in northern B.C.

I was particularly incensed that a bunch of loud-mouthed, ill-informed thugs successfully interfered with access to the legislature — the people’s house — by our democratically elected representatives and by the lieutenant governor.

The anemic and marginally effective police and security response to this behaviour merely encouraged those who should more properly have been promptly moved aside to scream their insults and invective. If this is the behaviour we can expect from those who would champion the UNDRIP cause, I really do fear what the future holds for us all.

Randy Morriss

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