Friday, May 11, 2012

Prelim announcement: Citizen-Launched Initiative on Pipelines and Tankers

In 1996, the pre-eminent 25,000-members-strong Western Canada Wilderness Committee (WCWC), headed by founder Paul George, launched a citizen initiative on banning bear hunting in British Columbia, which entailed Anthony Marr, the lead campaigner, to travel around BC by road covering 50 cities in 60 days, confronting and confronted by large groups of hostile hunters and guide-outfitters up to 130 at a time around every turn, about which Paul later wrote, "Anthony's blunt and unflappable style infuriated the opposition."

But the hotter the conflict, the hotter the media news. In all, the campaign generated some 250 local, national and international newspaper articles plus hours of radio debates and television interviews. In the end, though the Initiative Petition fell short in several electoral districts, the project was hailed as the greatest public outreach campaign on "sport" and trophy hunting ever, and described by the Canadian national newspaper the Globe and Mail as "the highest profile animal advocacy campaign in Canada in 1996". It won a 3-year Grizzly bear hunting moratorium from the NDP (New Democratic Party) government (which unfortunately was eventually overturned by the succeeding Liberal government).

Gratitude to the Wilderness Committee

Gratitude to the 1800 volunteers in the "highest profile animal advocacy campaign in Canada" (Global and Mail, December 1996)

Now, in 2012, the top global issue has become global warming (Paul George published a paper on climate change as early as 1997), the top Canadian issue is the Alberta tar sands, and the top issue in the British Columbia province is the evil trinity of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, the Kinder Morgan pipeline and oil tankers in BC waters.

And we are launching a province-wide citizen initiative "referendum" in British Columbia on these issues, with the questions of:
1. Do you want the Enbridge pipeline in BC?
2. Do you want the Kinder Morgan pipeline in BC?
3. Do you want more oil tankers in BC waters?

This coming summer, Anthony will be going on the road again, this time to confront and be confronted by pipeline advocates, tanker aficionados, Enbridge and Kinder Morgan thugs, Canadian carcinogen pushers and even Big Oil itself.

While on the road against hunters back then, he risked being driven off the road (he was chased on the highway by hunters from Port Alberni and Qualicum) or even getting shot (he did eventually receive three broken facial bones in an assault by a hunter), but now, this is an even bigger game, with billions of dollars at stake. When he goes on the road this time, it will be a different kind of risk he will be taking, and the greater the success, the greater the risk. But of course success is what we all will be driving for (and Anthony has taken numerous risks in his line of duty before, e.g. uncover work in India on the wildlife trade and Japan on whaling and the Taiji dolphin slaughter).

The rules of engagement according the Recall and Initiative Act of Elections BC are as follows:

The project, if it goes all the way, will have two main phases: the Initiative Petition phase and the Initiative Vote phase.

The purpose of the Initiative Petition is to show Elections BC that there is sufficient interest on the issues in question (as if it is not overly evident already). But rules are rules, and we have to follow them to get what we want. So we will follow them to get what we want.

It requires the certified signatures, collected by certified volunteers, of at least 10% of the registered voters in each and every one of the 85 electoral districts in BC, without a single exception. If 84 electoral districts turned in 10+%, and just one turned in 9.9%, the whole Initiative Petition fails, which was how we "failed" the last time. In contrast, Washington and Oregon require only 5%, which can be collected from anywhere within the state.

We will have 90 days to collect these signatures, versus WA and OR's 150 days.

WA and OR issue only one petition form applicable to the entire state, where in BC, each electoral district has its own distinct petition form, and the volunteers certified in one electoral district cannot collect signatures from other electoral districts.

Elections BC specifies that there should be just one "Proponent" who has to be a BC voter - an individual - whereas the "Opponents" can be an alliance or coalition of any number of individuals and groups, so no doubt, federal agents and oil companies bullies will be involved.

But funding-wise, both sides have the same ceiling, amount to be determined. In any case, fund-raising will be a must.

See Anthony Marr's 3 hour flight over the tar sands in 50 minutes:

When the project is ready for launch, the Proponent will submit the application, which shall include a draft bill to the effect of banning these pipelines and tankers from BC, to be drawn up by the Proponent's attorney. Elections BC will have its own legal team analyse the draft bill, and, after the changes have been made if any, Elections BC will publish a public notice on the project in the government paper The Gazette, at which point the clock will start ticking - on the Proponent, who will have the ensuing 60 days to organize a volunteer team upwards of 7,000 strong, followed by the 90 days of signature gathering.

If we make the signature quota, we will move on to the Initiative Vote phase, to prepare for which more public outreach will be conducted. Believe us, the Opponents will do the same. The vote itself will take place in 2013 or 2014. If this happens, the pipelines and oil tankers will be stalled for the period at least. This is as good as an injunction. No physical blockade is required.

In regards to the timing, we have consulted many key individuals and groups, as well as First Nations, and, with only one exception, "ASAP" is the common acronym.

Christmas is a problem, but could also be an opportunity, and the time frame has to fit accordingly. As preliminarily set at this point, the 60 day preparatory period will run from August 1 to September 30, and the Petition period will run from October 1 to December 31. In a way, December is good, because the malls will be filled with shoppers, and our mall booths will be heavily visited, especially when the shoppers will have learned by then all about the issues from the media we will have generated from the months prior.

Obviously, this project cannot succeed without the support and participation of concerned individuals and environmental groups in every electoral district across the province. This blog is to first inform, then appeal for your support and participation.

I will be launching a preliminary road tour in short order (perhaps as early as next week). I will publish my itinerary as soon as it is set.

Enbridge's ruptured pipeline spilled 4 million litres of oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010

In every city Anthony will visit, he will be holding meeting with local groups, making presentations in townhalls, and talking to media.

He hopes, and looks forward, to working with you when he come to your neck of the woods. Meanwhile, let's all fight on!

Any individual or group interested in volunteering and/or supporting and/or donating and/or participating, please contact:

Anthony Marr receiving the prestigious Henry Spira Grassroots Activist Award at the 2010 Animal Rights National Conference ( - ~1000 participants) in Washington DC.

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)

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