Do Environmental Leaders Support Pipelines? Op Ed #2

19 people were arrested on Monday at a pipeline construction site in Burnaby, BC. Hundreds more have been arrested since demonstrations began including Green Party leader Elizabeth May on Friday, March 23rd. In August 2017 a Carleton student was arrested at the protest of an oil exploration site in Quebec.

On February 1st, 2018 Justin Trudeau stated that Trans Mountain expansion from Burnaby, Bc to Strathcona County, AB will move forward and is in national interest during an interview with CBC Radio. Pipeline projects move forward despite overwhelming cases against gas companies in the supreme court and National Energy Board (NEB) including Chippewas of the Thames First Nation v. Enbridge Pipelines Inc and Clyde River (Hamlet) v. Petroleum Geo‑Services Inc.

The liberals committed in their platform to making scientifically informed decisions that represent public interest for the environment. On February 16th the city of Burnaby filed to appeal the NEB’s decision to approve Trans Mountain construction despite violation of Burnaby PPA and Tree Bylaws. Thousands of people are out impeding pipeline construction including Terry Christenson from Burnaby who was arrested for hanging in a tree hammock near a construction terminal, March 19th.

As of 2018 Canada is the 3rd largest producer and 4th largest exporter of oil in the world. Due to the geographic location of oil refineries, Canada also imports and exports oil in almost every province and territory, across indigenous landscapes, national parks, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Indigenous and environmental groups are among Canadians leading the legal battles against oil companies.

It is the decision of publicly elected government workers to approve the investments made in the country. Controversy over pipeline expansion and where to get our energy sources has been causing tension among Canadians for over a hundred years.  In an increasingly energy dependent society Canadians are torn on where to invest. As passion for the environment grows people are encouraged to find more sustainable options.

The issue creates tension among citizens. During a provincial assembly on March 8th Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced that her government would restrict oil exports from Alberta to British Colombia if B.C continued to impede on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. This threat of oil restrictions follow the Alberta government’s 2 week boycott of wine imported from B.C in February. “The wine industry is very important to B.C.,” Notley said at a news conference from the Alberta Legislature. “Not nearly as important as the energy industry is to Alberta and Canada, but important nonetheless.”

During a speech on March 15th, Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna stated that the Trans Mountain expansion will make B.C coasts safer. McKenna argued that pipelines cause high environmental damage, however improvements in marine safety associated with the project including $1.5 billion investment into Ocean Protection Plan would help restore B.C coastline. In response to why the environment minister would support expansion of the fossil fuel industry, McKenna argued that the economy and the environment must go hand in hand.

Do Canadians agree with the actions of politicians who pride themselves on being committed to the environment? Are the commitments to invest in environmental restoration projects enough to compensate for the destruction caused by fossil fuel infrastructure? Would it be more sustainable to divest in fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy? What is the popular opinion of Canadians in a society of increasing environmental awareness as well as increasing dependence on fossil fuels energy services.

In 2015 Canada was ranked 7th in world production of renewable energy. Hydro provided 67 per cent of renewable energy consumption. One example of a growing renewable energy company in Canada is Algonquin Power. Algonquin Power distributes sustainable energy from assets including wind, thermal, and solar power facilities across North America.

Many Canadians support the oil industry, however as public protests grow the government is called to reconsider their pipeline agenda. Despite overwhelming legal battles with oil companies, projects continue to move forward. While exercising their democratic rights through protest, citizens are arrested and left to wait in the court system. How many more people will be criminalized before the government’s actions represent the opinion of the public which elected them?




Cycles of Fascism and Violence


This weeks class was fortunate to be visited by Blair Rutherford who shared a comprehensive history of Zimbabwe. Blair helped explain the political, social, and economic conditions of the state in the last century which is crucial to understand the contemporary state of Zimbabwe. One of the topics my group discussed was how president Mugabe could stay in power for over 30 years; especially despite scandalous and violent behavior from himself and other elite.  This was followed by the larger class discussion of whether Mugabe’s regime can be described as fascist or authoritarian and what are the defining characteristics.

In The ‘Fascist Cycle’ in Zimbabwe; 200-2005, Timothy Scarnecchia attempts to draw similarities between regimes in Zimbabwe (2000-2005) and Italy (1920-1925). He uses the framework of the ‘fascist cycle’ an ideology written by historian of European fascism, Robert Paxton. What Paxton calls ‘the fascist cycle’ is characterized by state leaders who try to evade process and rule of law, use fear mongering, and mobilize nationalists for support. The parallels which Scarnecchia discusses between Zimbabwe and Italy include the state use of violence (including military) to maintain control, the abuse of legislative and judicial power to protect the ruling party, and the requirement of party membership as a basis for involvement in social and economic life.

What stands out to me is the emphasis of violence. Scarnecchia argued that fascist ideologies legitimate the state use of violence by claiming that violence is the right of a nation to defend itself against foreign and domestic enemies. In the case of Mugabe’s regime, violence and coercion was used to maintain power against competition and non-supporters. Scarnecchia uses the example of the 2005 Murambatsvina where thousands of urban Zimbabwe citizens were relocated from their homes into designated compact lands of poor condition. The operation was targeted at the poor, and those involved in the informal sector. Informal traders were called unpatriotic  ‘economic sabateurs’ who were working with western imperialists and were responsible for the current economic crisis.

Often discussed as a part of fascist ideologies, violence is a cycle of its own. Yet all over the world people all over the world continue to use violence for protection, influence and control. Violence and intimidation is an effective way to gain control of a population, however it will not gain legitimate support of citizen. Use of violence can be said to show the weakness of a person or party who cannot gain support or legitimacy  through ideas and solidarity. The reoccurring theme of violence leads me to question whether fascist or authoritarian ideologies can or have existed without violence.


Selective Multiculturalism?

The question of borders and freedom of movement is forever facing increasing pressure especially in the midst of the refugee crisis. Europe has some of the most secure borders are are constantly re-evaluating their immigration policies. In his article Zack Beauchamp consults an expert to discuss the anti-immigrant sentiments which are appearing among radical right parties. While anti-immigrant opinions appear in front-page news, this may not necessarily reflect the actual stance of individuals and parties, and government policies should be more closely examined to see how the issue is really treated.

Cas Mudde, an American expert on European politics stated that there are a few characteristics which seem to reoccur within radical right parties in Europe. I personally find the left-right spectrum ambivalent and troublesome, as every individual and party has slightly different views and even within one party you could have members on the ‘far right’ on some issues while on the ‘left’ for other issues. However Mudde claims that nativism, authoritarianism and populism are reoccurring characteristics for European parties of the radical right. Mudde describes nativism as a xenophobic form of nationalism, a belief that a state should be inhabited by members of one nation. In the contemporary globalized world is it nearly impossible to find an example of a nations consisting of only people who were born within the state. Furthermore as discussed in class, Immigration helps grow the economy and could be critical to help a declining population as seen in many European countries.

Authoritarianism believes that society should be strictly ordered with severe punishments for criminals. According to Mudde Authoritarianism perceives every issue first and foremost as a security issue, which can range from controlling the drug trade, to immigration policies.

Modern communications and social media have created a platform where actions of people and parties are easily publicized and criticized. This hopefully means that negative radical ideas can be condemned, and positive ones reinforced. It is up to the citizens of each nation to create and defend their own laws and policies, and social media can help bring issues within society to public attention. Every individual has a different opinion on immigration. We cannot force others to change their minds because we believe we know what is right. We can only show them through success of our own practices. It is difficult for a Canadian to criticize European immigration policies, as Canada has very high barriers to entry, and lets in a fraction of immigrants Europe does, despite having similar geographic area. What we can do however especially public media is draw attention to hateful ideologies such as xenophobia which turn fellow humans into the Other and can cause serious harm and suffering.

Sweeper: Gender and body language

Our group discussed if there was a difference in the treatment between males who did not conform to popular gender roles, and women who didn’t conform to feminine expectations. We also thought the gender characteristics and expectations described in the reading were not inclusive of the entire population. The Russian Gulag camps, Tokyo Olympics, and politics of homosexuality in Germany discussed in this week’s readings were all events of the twentieth century.

After watching the depictions of males in the 1935 Triumph of the Will film we raised the question of when homosexuals began to be largely persecuted in Germany. The article by Dan Healey also categorized males and females in Russian gulag prisons into four main groups of dominant and submissive females and males. Healey also writes about men having feminine qualities and women having masculine qualities which relates to the question raised in class about how someone could hold masculine qualities if they are not male. Ideas about the body and expectations of gender behavior were  common themes this week. The stories from 1964 Tokyo Olympics were an interesting example of how athletes were taught and encouraged to train their bodies and how their performance would bring pride for the nation. It encourages us to compare the current olympics in Korea and the different athletes from over 200 countries.

Censoring Public Symbols

         The names of roads, towns, buildings and clubs surround us with stories. In some places, governments try to have power and control over public spaces and media. According to democracy public spaces should not be controlled or censored, they should be shaped through public discourse, popular opinion and competitive politics.

         The recent removal of the statue of Edward Cornwallis in Halifax, as well as the removal of many confederate monuments in America have sparked debate over public sentiment towards these monuments and whether or not it’s right to remove controversial symbols of history.

Edward Cornwallis was the founder of Halifax and was also known to mistreat native people. He issued a notorious proclamation in 1749 which gave a reward for killing Mi’kmaq people.  Many people have called for the removal of monuments due to their dark history, however many others feel monuments are historical pieces of art and the way they have once been presented to the public is an important part of the story.

          The goal of history is to create the most holistic understanding possible in order to understand the circumstances of our present and future. In a way, the removal of monuments could send a message that these events should be remembered in a different way.  The statues and their stories do not disappear when they are moved. Some monuments are moved to a new space where they can be re-contextualized, however some are stored away from the public eye. Is removing public monuments really the best way to appease public controversies?

Like any government project, the removal and relocation of monuments is a costly affair. Perhaps it would be more positive to invest in the writing of wider and more holistic stories which address controversies, or invest funding into modern groups and organizations to improve the rights and well being of citizens, especially those who have been mistreated.

           The interesting part in cases such as Edward Cornwallis is that monuments are being moved out of respect and in response to public outcry. Whereas the malicious destruction of sentimental belongings, buildings, homes, and artifacts has been an unfortunate occurrence throughout history.The National Capital commission has decided to take this statue down to avoid vandalism and violence.

The purpose of monuments is not only to celebrate the positive parts of history, but also to pay respect to those who have suffered, and to remember stories so we can avoid future suffering. Ideally, critical and inclusive history would be easily accessible to all. The actors and events of history should speak for themselves, and people will continue to judge them based on their own moral standing.

        Carleton University (CU) is named after Guy Carleton. Carleton came from Ireland to serve the military in British North America. He participated in gruesome warfare that killed many people, and trained other people to kill and conquer the ‘enemy’, for the ‘greater good of the nation’. In popular history written by the British empire, he is not condemned as a murderer, his memory is romanticized as working and sacrificing for the nation and the empire.

        When reading about Egerton Ryerson on the government funded website Historica Canada, the fact that the Ryerson University of Toronto, Ontario has been called to be renamed by activists is mentioned in the first paragraph. Egerton Ryerson was born in 1803 in upper Canada and was one of the founders of the public education system in Ontario. Students and activists have called for renaming of the school due to Ryerson’s involvement in the development of residential schools. Does Carleton’s University’s name face a similar threat?

         Carleton lived over 200 years ago, yet his name still appears in hundreds of books, schools, towns and parks all across the country. Despite controversial history of Guy Carleton, CU stands as strong and proud institution, while bearing the name of someone who participated in causing great and inhumane suffering. The truth is, not everyone knows where CU got its name. Perhaps this means CU should make a Guy Carleton history project to show students the history behind the name they wear.

         As time passes the places and institutions named after Carleton will bring new legacies and memories to his name. For most students the name Carleton does not represent a British soldier, it represents passionate professors, classmates and friends.

Second Klan as a Case Study for Populism

Although every organization is different, Gordon’s article informs readers about some common characteristics of populist movements such as conspiracy theories, distrust of experts, extreme nationalism, isolationism, and victimization. The author writes that the Trump and Sanders campaign have been circulating discussions about populism. She also writes in detail about the KKK, and how its characteristics could fall under those of a populist movement. Indirectly, the author is trying to draw similarities between current American political parties, and the KKK of the 1930’s. Gordon however does not describe in detail the Trump or Sanders administration, their actions, mandates, or how they could be characterized as populist or similar to the KKK. If the message the author wanted to deliver was for us to be weary of present political atmospheres which could have devastating effects comparable to those of the KKK, then it could have been more effective if the author had specified some of the actions of ideologies of the Trump/Sanders administrations which she was concerned about.

Some connections can certainly be made between the Republican party and a traditional populist movement, for example the isolationist policies, the travel ban, and the conspiracy of ‘Islamophobia’, however Gordon does not go into hardly any detail of present American politics. If Gordon’s intent was to make warn people about the possible negative effects that actions and ideologies can have on parts of the population, then perhaps she could have spoken more about the current atmosphere in America, how people are being treated, and how they will be affected by upcoming policy implementations. If Gordon’s intent was simply to present current American parties as populist, then it is a wonder why she compared them to the KKK with it’s history of violence and human rights violations, as opposed to another populist movement which is more ethical, humane and successful.




First Response Week 1 Middle Ages

In the article Race, racism and the middle ages, Amy Kaufman focuses on white supremacy, hate crimes and violent acts in the Middle Ages. Amy compares modern ‘alt right’ movements with the grand titles and aggressive military regimes to that of medieval times. She also argues how modern notions about medievalism are shaped through the contemporary ideas about the Middle Ages which have been shaped over time through public perception and depicted through film and other media. She states that the popular sentiment for many of those who discuss the middle ages is based around myths which feed their imagination, and based less around factual history. Amy argues that there are many white men who fantasize about medievalism in order to cope with their changing status in society, from dominant and powerful to a more equal position with women and people of all races. She then argues how these kinds of sentiments contributed to the creation of violent and hateful organizations such as the KKK.  The KKK, which was formed after the Civil War in the US, was a cult which worked to re-establish and maintain the supremacy of the white male in society. One of my concerns with this article is the way the author sometimes uses the term ‘alt right’ very generally, or in direct connection or relation to violent organization such as the KKK. Amy does not exactly define what she means by ‘alt right’ and although the organizations she talks about could be considered ‘alt right’, when she uses the term on its own it blurs the lines between ‘alt right’ movements which are socially acceptable and those which are hateful and violent.