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NEWS: ‘Canada will be the next locus for civil disobedience’, says Bill McKibben

Between August 20 and September 3, there were 1252 people arrested outside the White House for taking part in a non-violent civil disobedience action calling on US President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Organizers (against the pipeline) decided they needed to be louder and chose civil disobedience.”

– “Bill McKibben, founder of environmental group 350.org, said civil disobedience would be employed again against Keystone on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sept. 26, and during the final months in the U.S. ahead of Mr. Obama’s decision. ‘We need to find a different currency to work in and for the past two weeks that currency was our bodies,’ said Mr. McKibben. ‘The odds, I suppose, remain against us but we’ll continue to use our wits, creativity and our bodies. Canada will be the next locus for civil disobedience.'”

– “Naomi Klein, activist author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, was also arrested for the first time. ‘Ever since the climate talks collapsed in Copenhagen, there’s been more and more talk that non-violent civil disobedience is going to have to be really resurrected as a mass tactic,’ said Ms. Klein. ‘A lot of the people arrested are the types who have gone to all of the UN summits and played by the rules. We’re watching the process go backwards. These are people really immersed in climate science and feel a tremendous sense of urgency.'”

Klein told CTV, “By getting arrested they are sending a message we really mean it. We care about this we are willing to get a record for this.”

And according to a National Post article, “(Klein) told the CBC that she hadn’t intended to be arrested since that could complicate her future plans to travel to the U.S., but said she was inspired by the speeches of native Canadian leaders who had travelled to Washington D.C. to oppose the project. ‘We heard from the people living downstream, who are dealing with having their land spoiled, who are dealing with outbreaks of disease and cancer, and it was just so moving that I really felt the need to stand with them in solidarity,’ she told the broadcaster.”

– “Susan Casey-Lefkowitz (of the US-based Natural Resources Defense Council) had never been arrested. A lawyer by training and activist by trade, she has battled against the oil sands for the past six years. But…a frustrated Ms. Casey-Lefkowitz decided to court arrest in a civil-disobedience protest at President Barack Obama’s doorstep. ‘It feels we’re up against such a fierce opponent in the oil industry. It took putting our bodies on the line. It’s about saying: This is so important that I am willing to be arrested,’ said Ms. Casey-Lefkowitz.”

Also among those arrested – Gitz Deranger (from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation), Tantoo Cardinal (a Cree actress and Order of Canada recipient who as born in Fort McMurray), Margot Kidder (who was born in Yellowknife), and Reynold Reimer and Mary Nokleby (Calgary chapter activists).

Next Steps: As now noted on the tarsandsaction.org website, “In the next 48 hours we will announce the next phase of the Tar Sands Action. Details are being hammered out now, but suffice to say: we have our work cut out for us in the next six weeks or so. Start by circling October 7th on your calendar, and then sign up for more details below, http://www.tarsandsaction.org/next-steps/.” For more on the upcoming September 26th action in Ottawa, which Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians have endorsed, please go to http://ottawaaction.ca/join-us. During the week of September 15, just prior to Parliament resuming on September 19, the Council of Canadians intends to release a paper it commissioned on civil disobedience written by Brigette DePape, who held the ‘Stop Harper’ sign during the last Throne Speech.