Watching the news one night, I saw the native protest in Bella Bella, B.C. that prompted the Northern Gateway review panel to cancel the hearings there.
I was shocked that the sight of native people holding protest signs made panel members so fearful. It seemed to me to be overt racism: The implication was that native people are inherently violent, because their behaviour certainly was not.
In Comox, on Aug. 10, the panel retreated to a ‘panic room’ when a guard at the door signalled them after he tried to stop a man from entering. I had walked in with the man, who I did not know, but as we were approaching the building together, we engaged in friendly conversation as we walked.
He was wearing a T-shirt with anti-pipeline slogans on it. I believe that is why the staff member attempted to stop him.
The man was close to my age — around 60. Like the people in Bella Bella, he posed absolutely no threat.
It struck me then that it wasn’t racism that prompted the cancellation of hearings in Bella Bella but rather a belief that protest is dangerous.
When the panel members left the hearing, the majority of people in the room rose and sang O Canada.
I stood and sang for the Canada that isn’t afraid of protest. I stood and sang for the Canada that protects the environment instead of delivering it into corporate plunder. I stood and sang for the Canada that respects democracy and the traditions of our parliamentary procedure.
Benito Mussolini, the father of fascism, said it should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power. That is why I stood and sang O Canada.