Opinions run hot around pipeline conflicts, and more is ahead of us. There are many arguments for and against civil protest, but one of the most persistent is that these people are hypocrites. That if you drive a car, take a plane, use hairspray, or otherwise consume fossil fuels in any way, you have no right to stand up. This comparison is troubling for a number of reasons.
When I heard about the protest on Burnaby Mountain, I decided to go up and lend support. During my first several visits there were no police in sight. That changed last Thursday when the RCMP moved in to enforce the injunction handed down by the B.C. Supreme Court. We've seen media photos and video of the physical conflicts that have sometimes developed, but those instances have been rare and it's important to keep them in perspective.
The way tensions between pipeline opponents and Kinder Morgan contractors have escalated during the last week should come as a surprise to no one. The mishandling of the National Energy Board review of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain oil pipeline and tanker proposal has created the conditions for the situation now unfolding on the mountainside.