Provincial and national media are finally paying attention to what this column has reported occasionally for a decade – they are being played by well-funded professional protesters targeting Canadian energy projects.
This belated realization is sparked by a document leaked to the B.C. Liberal opposition about “direct action” protests against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. It describes a secretive organization designed to create an impression of grassroots opposition.
The document is called the “Action Hive Proposal,” and the author turns out to be one Cam Fenton, who works for 350.org, a climate protest organization based in Oakland, California. Fenton says it was written before a kayak protest in Vancouver last fall, and doesn’t try to pretend that it’s no longer in effect.
It describes a “hive” or central organization that requires “staff-driven” participants to contribute money and staff, plus participation in weekly meetings. It directs everyone to use “digital security” such as a disappearing message service or phone calls to make sure things aren’t too transparent.
The “hive” directs a “swarm” of smaller groups, and here’s a key strategy:
“This group is an organizational structure, not a brand. We will not have a brand or presence in public beyond what is necessary to achieve our goals.”
Environment Minister George Heyman, who ran the B.C. branch office of California-based Sierra Club before being elected for the NDP, resorted to evasions and threats when asked about this document in the legislature. He attended a dinner on Bowen Island with representatives of this “hive” on Jan. 30, the same day he released a five-point plan to deter further oil transport from Alberta.
This sparked immediate retaliation from Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who banned B.C. wine from entering the province and threatened further actions. Notley, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr all bluntly reminded the B.C. government that it has no authority to interfere with a federally approved pipeline project running from one province to another.
This blew up while Premier John Horgan was on a trade mission in Asia that included efforts to carry on with liquefied natural gas exports. After Horgan got back, the most offensive part of Heyman’s scheme was pulled back, replaced by the latest of a series of taxpayer-funded court actions approved by the NDP, like the one that pretends Burnaby’s bylaws can override federal law.
I’ve reported on earlier efforts of this kind, like the American-funded protest camp near Prince Rupert run by a couple of rifle-toting, tree-spiking guys whose Indigenous claim to the area is, to put it politely, disputed.
The “swarm” and “hive” model was also on display in the latest round of anti-logging protests in the Walbran Valley. Front groups like Sierra and Council of Canadians stage made-for-TV demonstrations in town, while denying any knowledge of direct action soldiers blundering into legally permitted logging projects to lock themselves to equipment and try to provoke fights with loggers.
Independent researcher Vivian Krause, who revealed the 2008 U.S. strategy to “landlock” Alberta oil, notes that 350.org was originally funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a charitable foundation started by the heirs to the Standard Oil fortune.
Reminder: the day after the B.C. Greens and NDP made their minority government deal, a pair of Greenpeace employees climbed a flagpole in front of the B.C. legislature and put up their own banner. It read: “People power: 1 Kinder Morgan: 0.”
The manufactured “people power” has begun, with TV following along to make it all appear spontaneous and grassroots, as planned.
Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: email@example.com