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NEWS: Council of Canadians supports non-violent civil disobedience

The Toronto Star‘s Antonia Zerbisias writes, “(The) sense of urgency (about the climate crisis) is why many in scientific circles are advocating non-violent civil disobedience to shake up governments, industry and media.”

She writes, “Well-known American environmentalist and activist Bill McKibben (who) founded the grass-roots group 350.org…(says), ‘We need to do (civil disobedience) on a mass scale. We need to do it in a way that makes one thing clear to all onlookers: in this fight, we are the conservatives. The radicals are the people who want to alter the composition of the atmosphere.’ … One much talked-about recent case of civil disobedience within the scientific community is that of NASA climatologist and Columbia University professor James Hansen who, along with others, was charged with obstructing police and impeding traffic in West Virginia, while protesting mountain-top coal mining.”

Zerbisias also writes, “The member-supported Council of Canadians has engaged in all sorts of civil disobedience, including sandbagging towns and provincial legislatures to point out how rising sea levels would affect them. ‘It’s not an action to be taken lightly,’ says Andrea Harden-Donahue, the Council’s Energy and Climate Justice campaigner. ‘We do believe that all other democratic means should be pursued first and continue to be pursued, even with a civil disobedience strategy. But we feel that it is justified to address climate change, especially given that the Harper government has refused to take action, and because of the urgency.'”

The Council of Canadians undertook its first non-violent civil disobedience action in its first days as an organization. Maude Barlow writes in ‘The Fight of My Life, “Mel Hurtig rented a Twin Otter in the summer of 1985 and ‘bombed’ the American icebreaker Polar Sea with a Canadian flag and a message as it entered Canadian waters in the North without permission from our government. …He urged the ship to return to international waters and respect Canadian sovereignty in the future.”

Since then there have been numerous instances of our support for and participation in civil disobedience actions, including the campaign against the South Fraser Perimeter Road (noted above, with more at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4908 and http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=7624), and Site 41 (http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2089). This past weekend, our Comox Valley chapter organized a civil disobedience training session with our British Columbia-Yukon organizer Harjap Grewal. More on that at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=8037.

The Toronto Star article is at http://thestar.blogs.com/broadsides/2011/06/time-for-a-climate-of-change.html.