APTN: Mi’kmaq claim another highway victory in ongoing battle against shale gas exploration

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/news/2013/11/18/mikmaq-claim-another-highway-victory-ongoing-battle-shale-gas-exploration/

Mi’kmaq claim another highway victory in ongoing battle against shale gas exploration

National News | 18. Nov, 2013 by | 0 Comments

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
LAKETON, NB–It was another day of skirmishing on the highway in the ongoing battle between a Mi’kmaq-led group of anti-fracking demonstrators and a Houston-based company trying to wrap up the last of its shale gas exploration work for the year.

On the one-month anniversary of the Oct. 17 RCMP raid on an anti-fracking camp in Rexton, NB, a contractor working for SWN Resources Canada scrapped plans to pick up geophones strung along the shoulder of Hwy 11 after facing a demand from demonstrators that the company also retrieve the wires connecting the equipment.

(A worker with SWN Resources Canada contractor Geokinetics walks toward a geophone on the shoulder of Hwy 11 in New Brunswick. APTN/Photo)

(A worker with SWN Resources Canada contractor Geokinetics walks toward a geophone on the shoulder of Hwy 11 in New Brunswick. APTN/Photo)

Geophones interact with thumper trucks to create imaging of shale gas deposits underground. The thumper trucks deliver vibrations into the ground which are then transmitted to geophones which then send the data to measuring equipment.

On Thursday, dozens of demonstrators forced SWN’s thumper trucks to turn back.

A line of Mi'kmaq and their supporters confront a line of RCMP officers on Hwy 11 Thursday.

A line of Mi’kmaq and their supporters confront a line of RCMP officers on Hwy 11 Thursday.

Elsipogtog residents, along with supporters from other Mi’kmaq communities and local Acadians, have been trying to stop SWN’s shale gas exploration for months.  Many fear discovery of shale gas will lead to a controversial extraction method called hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Opponents of fracking say it threatens water tables, while proponents say it poses no danger at all.

The New Brunswick government has given SWN its full backing and Premier David Alward has called the ongoing battle between SWN and demonstrators a “beachhead” in his government’s effort to bring more resource development to the province.

Sunday’s skirmish occurred in the same vicinity as Thursday’s confrontation which sits about 30 km north of the October raid site and about 46 km northeast of Elsipogtog.

“We did it again,” shouted some of the demonstrators after trucks belonging to Geokinetics turned around and left the area.

Initially it appeared that Geokinetics would be retrieving the geophones and the connecting wiring which is strung across 15 km on Hwy 11. One of the workers told APTN National News that the wires were going into their trucks along with the geophones.

Moments later, an RCMP liaison officer, known as “Dickie,” told the demonstrators that the company didn’t have the “resources” to pick up the wiring and the geophones.

“Either they are going to pull out all together or allow them to pick up their yellow boxes and they’ll come back another day to pick up the wire,” said the RCMP liaison officer.

The demonstrators, however, cried foul saying the terms of the initial arrangement had been altered.

“You show up here and your mouth starts doing this here and all of a sudden it’s all different,” said Melissa Augustine, who is from the Mi’kmaq community of Burnt Church.

“This is what they are conveying to me and this is what I am conveying to you,” said the RCMP liaison officer.

The meeting ended abruptly after one of the demonstrators, Maxime Daigle, attempted to read a letter, later described as a writ, to the RCMP liaison accusing the force of treason.

The RCMP liaison, however, refused to stay to hear Daigle read the whole thing.

“I read it yesterday,” said the liaison.

“Hey come back, you scared of this or what?” said Daigle, a former oil and gas worker with experience acrossWestern Canada and the U.S. who now campaigns against shale gas extraction.

Soon after, Geokinetic’s trucks turned around and left.

“They looked like a bunch of mice running away,” said Augustine. “They broke their word to pick up their garbage.”

Louis Jerome, another Mi’kmaq demonstrator from Gesgapegiag First Nation in Quebec, said if SWN’s contractor returns, it will face the same thing.

“If they come back, we are going to make sure that they take all their equipment,” said Jerome. “I think they got the message.”

The symbolism of Sunday’s small victory on the one-month anniversary of the raid remained with some demonstrators after calm returned to their recently erected camp on Hwy 11.

“It’s a powerful day,” said Callum Moscovitch, from St. Margaret’s Bay, NS.

He said a lot had changed since the chaos and confusion following the raid, which resulted in 40 arrests and the torching of several RCMP vehicles.

Moscovitch said the camp was experiencing a level of unity that had been missing for awhile.

“It’s amazing to have arrived here from a point of tension, fear and distrust,” he said. “We are concentrating on our strength and where it lies is in prayer. It brings us together.”

The battle, however, is far from over.

On Monday, a New Brunswick judge is expected to rule on an application for an injunction filed by the Elsipogtog band council against SWN and the province. The judge could rule in favour of Elsipogtog and end SWN’s exploration for the season.

Or, the judge could rule against it and SWN would be able to return under the full cover of the courts.


APTN: Security firm protecting SWN hired company owned by ex-con who claimed undercover work for RCMP in Akwesasne

SOURCE: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/11/14/security-firm-protecting-swn-hired-company-owned-ex-con-claimed-undercover-work-rcmp-akwesasne/

Security firm protecting SWN hired company owned by ex-con who claimed undercover work for RCMP in Akwesasne

National News | 14. Nov, 2013 by | 0 Comments

(YouTube video posted in August shows Stephen Sewell in a heated argument with opponents to SWN Resources Canada’s shale gas exploration)

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
The security company hired by SWN Resources Canada to protect equipment during its controversial shale gas exploration project subcontracted work to a consulting firm owned by an ex-convict who claims he did undercover work for the RCMP in Akwesasne.

Industrial Security Ltd. (ISL), which is owned by JD Irving Ltd., subcontracted work to Chief to Chief Consulting, according to New Brunswick lawyer Mike Scully, who works for the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs of New Brunswick as the consultation liaison with SWN.

ISL has been conducting security for SWN, a Houston-based energy firm that is facing ferocious opposition to its shale gas exploration work from the Mi’kmaq residents of Elsipogotog First Nation.

ISL employees were also providing security for the JD Irving-owned compound holding SWN vehicles at the centre of an Oct. 17 raid by RCMP tactical units. The raid against a Mi’kmaq-led anti-fracking camp which was blocking the compound freed SWN’s vehicles.

Mi’kmaq fracking opponents were again facing off against the RCMP Thursday.

Chief to Chief Consulting was registered as a New Brunswick company on April 17 by Stephen Sewell, a Mi’kmaq man from Pabineau First Nation.  Sewell self-published a tell-all book describing his undercover work for the RCMP infiltrating smuggling networks in Akwesasne and the Hells Angels biker gang.

Scully said Chief to Chief Consulting had a total of nine people working under the contract for security-related tasks. Scully said the company was hired as “first responders and health and safety monitors” and to be “a buffer between the security (company) and the general public.”

Randy Wilson, director of corporate security for JD Irving, did not return a phoned and emailed request for comment from APTN National News on ISL’s decision to subcontract out work to Chief to Chief. APTN National News asked Wilson if Sewell’s claimed past work as an RCMP informant played any role in the decision to give the company a contract.

APTN National News contacted JD Irving’s media relations team and is still waiting for a response.

Elsipogtog First Nation’s former War Chief Gary Augustine is also employed by Chief to Chief.

Scully said he didn’t know exactly what Chief to Chief was doing at the moment or if they had any other contracts with SWN.

APTN National News contacted SWN’s office in Moncton seeking to speak to Sewell. The receptionist said Sewell was in the boardroom for a meeting, but wasn’t available to talk.

APTN National News has also left numerous messages over the past several weeks on Sewell’s home telephone voicemail.

Sewell spent time in federal and provincial jails for drug and violent crime while also claiming to have worked for the RCMP as an informant covered under the Witness Protection Program, according to his book, Abused, Addicted, Incarcerated: Canada’s Shame: The Autobiography of An Aboriginal Rebel. The book also describes his conversion to Christianity. It was published in 2011.

Sewell wrote that he served four years in the Dorchester penitentiary after being convicted on 21 domestic-related offenses against his ex-partner. The charges included putting a gun to the “back of her head” while telling her “she was going to die” while she was in “the fetal position and begging for her life.”

In the book, written under the pseudonym Chief Poison Feather, Sewell claims he never pointed the gun at the woman; he just took out a box containing the weapon and threatened to use it.

“I told her that she had better shut the fuck up and let it go or I was going to shut her the fuck up in my own way. She finally shut up, but the gun wasn’t even taken out of the box. That alone would have knocked two years off of my sentence because I was charged with pointing the firearm at her,” wrote Sewell.

Sewell claimed in the book he began working as an RCMP informant under the Witness Protection Program sometime in 1994. Sewell wrote that he signed a contract at the RCMP’s J Division headquarters in Fredericton, NB.

“I would start at $500 a week plus expenses, plus a five thousand-dollar pay-off at the end,” wrote Sewell.

Sewell wrote that he was eventually given tens of thousands of dollars by the RCMP for the undercover work he did for the federal police force which included infiltrating the Hells Angels biker gang on the East Coast.

Sewell claimed that his successful undercover work led the RCMP to send him to Cornwall, Ont., to infiltrate biker and Mafia-linked organizations in the city.

He said he was ordered to infiltrate the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, which straddles the Canada-U.S. border, under the name of “Stephen Sock.” The operation ran from 1995 to 1998, he wrote.

Throughout his description of his work infiltrating Akwesasne, Sewell dropped the names of well-known families and individuals in the community. Sewell wrote that he helped smuggle alcohol and cigarettes across the St. Lawrence River and all the way to Mohawk community of Kahnawake near Montreal. In the book, he includes a police surveillance image of a boat piloted by men with ski masks with the cutline: “Smuggling from New York to Ontario while working undercover.”

He also claimed to have taken part in gang rapes with the bikers.

“I always kept the RCMP abreast of the situation. They told me that if the victim doesn’t file a complaint, then they were not going to act,” wrote Sewell. “It was almost expected, even from the girls at these parties, that they would be used or even expected to satisfy anyone’s sexual urges.”

Sewell wrote that he worked with four undercover RCMP officers and they posed as criminal organization behind a business front called Paradise Construction Plus based in Montreal. According to Sewell, the operation ended in February 1998 and led to 18 arrests. He said the operation bought C-4 explosives, a rocket launcher, AK-47s, AR-15s and M11′s, grenades, dynamite, cocaine and “$7 million worth of heroin from Hong Kong.”


HMC: Who actually owns SWN?

SOURCE: http://www.mediacoop.ca/blog/max-haiven/19452

by Max Haiven

The struggle of the people of Kent County New Brunswick against fracking, and the phenomenal resistance at Elsipogtog this October, has generated a lot of buzz online.  Many people, both local to Mi’Kmaqi (Atlantic Canada) and beyond want to help. One way to help is to put economic pressure on SWN, the corproation that is responsible for the shale-gas testing and whose “thumper” trucks were so heroically seized until the RCMP raid on October 17.  Recently, some have referred to this website <http://stockzoa.com/ticker/swn/> to argue that SWN is actually owned by major global brands like Microsoft, Nike, Exxon, Disney and Philip Morris.

This is inaccurate.

SWN is a publicly-traded corporation, which means that its shares are traded on the New York Stock exchange and its “owners” are multiple individuals and corporations.  Because it is “publicly” traded, it must report who its major investors are, and this is where the stockzoa.com information comes from.  If we look at the list, we can see that most of those owners have obscure names.  Here are the top 5:

Capital Research Global Investors^ 20.98M $766.48M June 30, 2013
Sands Capital Management 18.10M $661.33M June 30, 2013
Vanguard 16.86M $615.91M June 30, 2013
Wellington Management Company 16.23M $592.83M June 30, 2013
T. Rowe Price Associates 15.40M $562.58M June 30, 2013

These are all “funds,” which means that each of them is itself a company made up of multiple investors.  In other words, each of these “investors” is itself a corporation, made up of multiple investors. Because most of these funds are “private,” we don’t get to know who those investors are.  They are most likely a combination of (a) very rich individuals, (b) investment banks, (c) pension or mutual funds which manage people’s retirement savings and (d) possibly (but not likely) major corporations (like Nike, WalMart, Microsoft, etc.).

Now these “funds” are ALSO investors in all those global brands mentioned above (Microsoft, Nike, Exxon, Disney and Philip Morris).  Funds like these work by making multiple investments in many different companies and creating a “portfolio” of stocks.

In other words:  SWN is NOT owned by Microsoft, Nike, Exxon, Disney, Philip Morris, etc.

The same FUNDS that own SWN ALSO own shares in Microsoft, Nike, Exxon, Disney and Philip Morris, etc.

The exception is invetsment banks.  The stockzoa.com page shows us that some major banks DO own part of SWN.  Hence:

GOLDMAN SACHS 10.29M$376.04MJune 30, 2013 JPMORGAN CHASE & CO 3.15M$114.89MJune 30, 2013

(Due diligence: I am not an expert in investments, but I am a specialist in the sociological and cultural dimensions of finance capital.  You can see a relatively readable piece I wrote on the subject here: http://truth-out.org/news/item/16911-financial-totalitarianism-the-economic-political-social-and-cultural-rule-of-speculative-capital)


1. Boycotting brands that own SWN is very difficult.  Most of them are extremely secretive private funds whose offices are in New York, Conneticut, LA, Boston or the Cayman Islands.

2. More problematically, it is not unlikely that many Canadians (and certainly many Americans) are unwitting investors in SWN and other fracking companies because their banks or pension funds are making investments wither directly in SWN stock, or in the funds that are, in turn, buying SWN stock.

3. On the bright side, because SWN is made up of multiple investors and publicly traded, their share prices can be affected quite dramatically by bad publicity. If investors believe that the firm is in trouble in New Brunswick, they may be tempted to sell the stock, which can cause SWN’s share price to drop.

4. But convincing these funds to divest from SWN is likely a losing strategy.  These funds are not run by conscientious individuals. They are run by ruthless professional fund managers whose only legal responsibility is to make as much money for their clients as possible. Trying to convince them to do otherwise is like trying to convince a shark to try a vegetarian diet.  Most of the investors in the funds have little to no idea where there money is going.


Efforts to hurt SWN economically would more effectively occur on other fronts:

1.  The civil disobedience in Kent County will continue to cost SWN a huge amount of money.  Some estimates put it at over $60,000 a day.

2.  Economic efforts should be directed at SWN’s local and more vulnerable partner, Irving, who have been providing private security for SWN, whose newspapers in NB have been criminalizing and defaming anti-fracking protesters, and who will gain materially from a shale-gas industry in the province.  Irving have allowed SWN to use one their lots to store their equipment. Irving owns (a) Irving gas stations and home heating, (b) Majesta and Royal paper products, (c) Cavendish Farms (who make a large percentage of North America’s french-fries) and (d) Kent Building Supplies, and much more.  Without Irving’s support (both material and political) SWN and Fracking in New Brunswick would be history. In Halifax, solidarity protesters have been holding demonstrations outside Irving gas stations since the summer, and more are planned in the future.

3. Economic efforts can also target local (Atlantic Canadian) fracking companies, notably Corridor Resources (http://www.corridor.ca/), a Halifax-based comapny (traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange) that has already fracked in Penobsquis NB, and is planning to undertake the incredibly dangerous practice of deep-ocean drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

4.  More generally, while SWN is the company responsible for fracking in Kent County, Canada has the dubious honour of being the world’s leader in mining and resource extraction corporations, and many of these corporations are committing heinous crimes against Indigenous people around the world.  These mining companies are, for the most part, traded on the Toronto Stick Exchange, and almost every Canadian who has a pension or a mutual fund is, unwittingly, an investor.  Divestment campaigns against Canadian mining companies would be very helpful.

Meanwhile, there are desperate financial needs at the protest camp in NB to help cover legal and bail fees.  To make a donation, check out sacredfirenb.com.

Those in Halifax can join in solidarity actions this Monday at the Irving Station at the corner of Robie and Charles Street at 3pm: https://www.facebook.com/events/167445490121276

CP: Fracking Indigenous Country: Big Green, Sun Media and Elsipogtog

SOURCE: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/10/22/fracking-indigenous-country/


If anyone doubted that it’s a good thing that Sun News in Canada has been both going broke and also denied the ability to force their way onto Canada’s basic cable system (vastly expanding their audience and getting themselves included in most homes with television subscriptions by default), the racist rantings of Ezra Levant in response to the recent RCMP attack on the Mi’kmaq community of Elsipogtog ought to clear it up.

On October 17th in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, an indigenous Mi’kmaq community named Elsipogtog came under RCMP militant attack. This community learned many months ago that there were corporations preparing to explore for gas trapped by shale that industry would “frack” to release. When land defenders from their community learned of the multiple places around the continent that have seen everything from polluted aquifers to tap water that could be lit on fire as an outcome of fracking– concerned families took action to defend their water.

Among the means by which people took action included blocking access to the site of exploration and all the seismic testing equipment to be used by SWN Resources on the site. The community began mobilizing months ago; a blockade had been up for over three weeks. It changed last Thursday.

The RCMP swooped in a community that has never ceded their land via treaty to either Canada or the British Crown, with multiple dozen armed officers coordinating an attack on an encampment of shocked and terrorized Mi’Kmaq people and their supporters. RCMP had stated against just such an act only the night before.

After breaking the blockade up and arresting over 40 people– and then holding the obligatory press conference to smear those they had attacked– the RCMP discovered that as of Monday, October 21, 2013 the injunction demanding the road to be evacuated was overturned and tossed out.

In between the initial attack on Mi’kmaq defenders and their supporters and this throwing out of a legal case for attacking people, a rhetorical case for white supremacy dribbled into the microphones of Sun News. Ezra Levant, perhaps the best known name and certainly loudest advocate for forcing you to watch the Sun News Network, held his own version of reality forward on his show, fortunately mostly only seen online.

After assuring people watching that “no lethal force was used” (thus making state violence against families with children and elders apparently more acceptable), he also asserts the community (never named as such) are “terrorists.” He explains that the fracking process is “quite normal” and makes some other real humdingers as far as assertions about just that.

Sun News Network has been compared to a hypothetical “Fox News North,” and you can see this would-be Bill O’Reilly ranting, screaming and slandering people in much that same “tradition.” It comes from the ideological far-right– the environment hating, white supremacist mish-mash of people who think all industrial development and profit is good, any person of color is a likely criminal, and that any regulation of industry is tantamount to Stalin’s Five Year Plan for Canada.

After stating that there has never been any problems with fracking…:

“In the more than one million times that wells have been fracked before, never– not even once—has there even been a report about environmental problems effecting groundwater caused by fracking.”

…the next thing, of course, is to call Mi’Kmaq terrorists, and use the racist dehumanization he often carries out against Palestinian men, women and children to help with the dehumanization of Mi’kmaq men, women and children (Hey, it wouldn’t be Ezra if he could not find a way to bash at least one Muslim population, somewhere).

Certainly lost on him would be the bigger link between the two communities, attacked as backward while settlers from across the planet take their land and homes. Both Palestinians and indigenous peoples in Canada have human rights law and even UN resolutions on their sides. This, of course, is irrelevant to Levant and is ignored by mainstream media as a matter of course.

Then, from vile and racist, Levantine logic jumps to the ridiculous.

Mi’kmaq struggles against fracking have taken place completely outside of the framework of large environmental NGO’s; many have stated their belief this is a huge reason for the cohesive, community outlook of the struggles. Most of the larger ENGO’s have an internal policy against opposition to fracking. The reason? Big Capital control through foundations has determined that such a campaign is not a likely “win,” and Big Capital is also involved in labelling Natural Gas– including that from “fracking”– as a “transition fuel.”

Further to that point? All of the major foundation funded ENGO’s in British Columbia, Canada have not opposed the construction of the Pacific Trails Pipeline proposal, now owned by Chevron. This particular pipeline would be the first major exporting pipeline of fracked natural gas of the many planned, running from “Canada’s Bakken” in the Horn River Basin of Northeastern British Columbia and southwestern North West Territories. This is an area with a breakneck pace of development that has flattened large tracts of land and yet has only just begun so far as industry would decide.

That fracked gas could also be fed into the energy grid of Alberta province, lowering the price for tar sands producers to refine, upgrade and ship their tar sands climate killing crude oil. The proposed pipeline route of Pacific Trails would be, so industry likes to think, the means for laying down major new tar sands pipelines as well. The end of the Pacific Trails would be a major, highly dangerous Liquified Natural Gas terminal on the Pacific Coast where currently super tanker traffic is neither allowed nor would ever be safe.

The BC government and industry have not hidden that this pipeline is one step towards an overall gas agenda for the Pacific Coast. At the beginning of this month, Premier Clark made that point by seeking New Brunswick Premier David Alward as a co-chair in opposition to a Federal government “jobs plan” that both premiers believe would not benefit their respective provinces in the case of rapid growth and the resulting shortage in skilled labour to work in– Fracked Natural Gas Fields. On the BC government website, LNG from fracking is described by Clark:

Our long history of safe, responsible natural gas development makes us a reliable place to invest and conduct business. In addition, a strong relationship with B.C.’s First Nations continues to facilitate mutually beneficial partnerships.1

Nowhere in the “strong relationship” is there mention of the Unist’ot’en Camp, built up by members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in opposition to all pipeline construction, tar sands, fracking, or otherwise, as well as other industrial incursions into their lands. Here, the resistance to fracking on the Pacific Ocean has a home base because of indigenous resistance, and despite being ignored as “the cost of doing business” by the crowd of people in the secret North American Tar Sands Coalition and now, the “Tar Sands Solutions Network.”

The same dynamic exists in the community near Rexton, NB. While fracking is being resisted by land defenders who want water for their families, well-funded and connected environmentalists have had almost zero to do with putting the situation on the political map. The community didn’t need outsiders from gas and energy to tell them they needed good water, and they didn’t need that from “environmentalists,” either. What they have needed is no-compromising support, and in the moments since the RCMP attacks they have received such– from other indigenous nations across the entire territory colonized by Canada.

Foundation Funded environmentalists and their “we don’t oppose fracking” organizations? We have Tzeporah Berman’s outfit over at the “Tar Sands Solutions Network”. In the four days as of this writing since the RCMP attack on the community in New Brunswick, only one story that was even somewhat related to the struggle on Mi’kmaq Territory is listed– the recent cancellation of the NEB hearings on a possible Line 9 Reversal to accommodate tar sands oil exports to the Atlantic Ocean. That happened after a flurry of opposition to Line 9 was expected to jump dramatically– in the wake of furious organizing for just that, and that had taken place in the day following the assault on Elsipogtog.

The article and the entire website makes no mention whatever of the attack on Mi’kmaq peoples. Instead, we have this advertisement, addressing Christy Clark:

The reasoning behind the ad? In recent BC provincial politics, more than 4 out of 5 people have stated opposition to the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline, and majorities has been opposed to tar sands-sourced oil coming into BC in general. To avoid taking a pro-industry position that would cost her votes, prior to the May election in BC, Clark’s Liberal Party endorsed “conditions” that “must be met first” for the pipeline. After winning the election, Clark repeated some of those conditions and stated at least temporary opposition to the project.

The provincial government has no final say in the Joint Review Panel; the pipeline in Canadian law is a federal matter. The BC government is “just” another “intervening party.” Stating opposition is free, intelligent public relations for the re-elected Liberal Party, especially while “conditions” exist to be met and a “rethinking” can about face later.

Meanwhile, the BC government was promoting about two dozen disastrous environmental policies– not least of which included the construction of a natural gas corridor that would facilitate larger tar sands developments– instead of being called to account on this, Big Capital approved Big Funding for Big Green for a Big Ad that lauded her with a thank you and a postcard image of a Big Whale. This sent the subtle message that the “Tar Sands Solutions Network is ready to play ball, Premier. Are you listening?”

In the same time frame elsewhere, with another indigenous community struggle against another fracking proposal carried out by another advocating Premier, Big Green has done little or nothing to support the struggles that have now taken on a larger scale impact. And how does the Sun News Network’s great white hope describe this? Again, in Levantine fashion, the description is of indigenous peoples being marched by Big Green, at the behest of Big Capital, to disrupt the Canadian economy. Why big capital would be anti-capitalist is not explained.

The notion that everything was fine months ago, and that conflict is fabricated by shady, American money is casting a white supremacist conspiracy theory. That only white, rich “Americans” would try and prevent fracking in traditional Mi’kmaq Territory of course, is just silly. That this struggle against fracking has developed outside of foundations and Big Green directing struggles in a breath of welcome, fresh air would make Levant’s head explode.

As a result of Big Green ignoring such struggles against fracking, it has taken means such as land defense from Mi’kmaq community members to make fracking a known issue in Canada. It has been, on both coasts, the impacted communities that dared to organize to defend their land and water when there was little to no help coming from Big Green. If such struggles continue, watch for Big Green to take up exactly this issue, after the fact.

Perhaps the only part that is correct about this twist of logic is that movements in environmental circles are often trying to borrow the legitimacy of indigenous land defense. Certainly it is the case that indigenous imagery gets used as a means to lessen the whiteness of environmentalism in the public mind. However, who struggles first and who shows up later to use that for their own purposes is the same as always. Community leads the way, organized institutional groupings– whether “progressive politicians” or “progressive environmental groups”– will attempt to hitch their cart to a running horse.

Big Capital has invested huge sums to try and corner the public perception of what constitutes environmentalism. When struggles break out into open confrontation, it is a community that did not take a deal, cut and run to private boardrooms and the like that is almost always the catalyst. If the struggle built by community has staying power, soon capital through foundations will try to stake their claim within said struggle. The near total silence on fracking from Big Money’s Big Green illustrates this perfectly well in Canada’s indigenous land defender communities.

Inevitably, if one begins to tackle the problems of foundation funding behind the environmental NGO structures in North America, and begins to illustrate it, two related accusations will be levied at your investigation:

1: You are carrying out conspiracy theory—a mirror image of the Ezra Levant types who have been filling up airtime and newspaper columns with tales of the American environmentalist using money to bring down Canada’s economy, despite large public support for the “oil sands.”

2: More specifically, your arguments have much in common with Canada’s would-be Rush Limbaugh or Vivian Krause, ranters and researchers beloved by the growing authoritarian right in Canada who regularly assert a “green conspiracy” that equates environmentalism with something akin to Black Helicopters from the UN turning cows inside out in Kansas, but at the behest of a reinvigorated Kremlin helping the Saudis and Iran.

Despite the fact that for decades Big Green all but ignored the tar sands developments until they became an international issue after the alarm was raised by effected communities in Alberta who tied it to climate justice, Levant posits that people do not actually oppose tar sands developments, but that media have been brainwashed into believing such through the largesse of Obama-loving liberals in the US.

This basic premise by Levant, Krause or any of the other people attacking right wing Big Green groups from even further to the right, always puts the cart before the horse about how big money got involved. The reality is that Big Green came when climate called, that is a campaign with international appeal and therefore the possibility to play a “deciding” role presented itself. But it was community organizing that built up international concern from decades of being overlooked.

Big money liberals have moved to steer what cannot be stopped; Big Green has shaped policy that beckons for solutions in tune with a nascent green bourgeoisie. Of course ‘paranoia’ over such an analysis may be invoked by those who would defend Big Green, actual facts be damned.

That large money crosses the border is about the only point Levant and co. get right; The Tea Party-inspired thought fails to see that this liberal strategy defends capital more effectively than their hardline opposition, just as similar thinking fails to see the bailout as boon for capital and industry. Those who call the Obama regime ‘extreme left’ are incapable of embracing this fundamentally soft right wing, carrot instead of the stick approach. They refuse to join them– and cannot recognize that by instead attempting to beat them they are beating themselves.

The false binary– “The left and the right have similar criticisms of environmentalism. The truth must be somewhere in the middle!”–has been used as a mantra for the liberal Big Green elite to dismiss a discussion of the subversion of real grassroots environmentalism and the choking of community level democracy that gave birth to environmental activism (and many of the Big Green groups) in the first place.

This right-wing ideological contempt for malleable, corporate friendly eNGO’s is the same sort of mentality that attempts to diminish the role of the United Nations, to use government “shutdown” blackmail to prevent modest re-regulation of the private-for profit health insurance sector in the United States, that cheers Canada’s “number one friend” relationship with Israel while eliminating all diplomatic ties with Iran. All of it is more ideologically based than it is rational policy.

The primary critique from the Levant and Krause camps have surface colour, but the thesis– That American environmental money is trying to destroy the Canadian economy– has zero depth. Large capital acts in its best interests, and always has. There is no “American takeover” through a hostile, anti-Canada campaign of US philanthropy; There is a continent wide takeover by capital through the dismantling of an accountable public process.

The problem of free trade deals is the considered increase in deregulation and lack of accountability that results from them. The same is true of taking environmental planning processes out of the public sphere. It matters not whether it is Canadian or American corporations decimating the atmosphere; it matters not whether it is Canadian or American capital that squashes democracy inside a secret negotiation process around tar sands.

There is no Saudi-orchestrated attempt to knock “ethical oil” off the market to the advantage of the monarchs who run the Gulf-Cooperation Council states, either. Nor is the Foundation-led leadership contemptuous of the environment itself, working with personal intent to decimate the biosphere. They are capitalists, some of whom love green spaces and desperately want a false green capitalism to “give it a go.” The problem is not that they insufficiently care about the environment. It is that they love their class privilege too much.

For the most part, while the “invisible to the outside” coalition will not allow for transparency, inside them are vast structural realities in terms of class, race and a complete lack of agency inside the now essentially authoritarian Big Green movement; This causes the policies, direction, media talking points and vital strategies to be so overwhelmingly pro-industry and 100% pro-capital.

Sometimes the capital slant would show in which groups get the largest funding or the most media push; Lawsuits that attempt to “fix” regulatory issues, or ENGO-driven ad campaigns in large newspapers can garner huge chunks of the budget and direction of any such coalition. Organizations that represent indigenous and/or frontline communities or that reject any and all false solutions– such as carbon credits– may get enough money to become reliant and dependent, but not enough to change the over-all trajectory of anti-tar sands “mainstream” policy direction.

And whether it is fracking, tar sands, privatization of river systems or mining on ancestral lands, the actual concerns and sovereign rights of nations in the way of environmental schemes are given the same level of respect as indigenous land is by industry. It is only accommodated when it does not disrupt the agenda, and that agenda is already pre-determined to be within the confines of what the current economic structures abide. A democratic and anti-colonial environmental movement is the only answer; the answers needed immediately cannot come from within structures built by capital and structured for market-based incentive solutions.

Only when community resistance speaks truth to power, as has been witnessed in Elsipogtog for the last several days, can the voice of democracy be heard– and when it is heard, it speaks with more clarity and simple truth than capital can handle.

Macdonald Stainsby is an anti-tar sands and social justice activist, freelance writer and professional hitchhiker looking for a ride to the better world, currently based in Vancouver, Canada. He can be reached at mstainsby@resist.ca