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Your weekly update on Alberta politics for February 11, 2020

Across the country this week all eyes are on northwestern BC, where the RCMP have begun a severe crackdown against land defenders and the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation.

The chiefs oppose a natural gas pipeline project, the Coastal GasLink Pipeline, which crosses their traditional territories.

The RCMP are enforcing a media blackout zone, preventing journalists from observing their treatment of peaceful protestors. Karyn Pugliese of the Canadian Association of Journalists was on the Canadaland podcast this week to discuss that, and what you hear may shock you. The way that the RCMP are trampling over the free press to keep people from seeing photographs of them cracking down on protestors, or seeing the militarized police with their carbines, or hearing about things like the use of LRAD sound cannons on protestors, is extremely disturbing. Civil rights seem to evaporate very rapidly in this country when there’s resource-extraction money to be made.

Solidarity protests have erupted across the country, including here in Alberta. Yesterday over two hundred demonstrators occupied the Enbridge Building in Edmonton, demanding that BMO divest from the pipeline. 

Hundreds of protestors gathered in Calgary as well, briefly blockading traffic before police forced them to move back to Reconciliation Bridge. 

The pipeline project is only just on the other side of the Rockies, but many Albertans have an even closer connection to the project. That’s because AIMCO, the provincial government’s investment corporation (to which the UCP have recently been giving control over teachers’ and public sector workers’ pensions) recently purchased a very large stake in CGL. This puts everyone with pensions managed by AIMCO in a very uncomfortable position–if the project fails, our pensions take a gigantic hit. If the project succeeds, we’re complicit in Canada’s ongoing colonial violence against Indigenous people.

Last week demonstrators in Edmonton rallied to urge AIMCO to divest from CGL but I find it extremely unlikely that the UCP government would ever allow that to happen.

The only media boots on the ground covering this siege seem to be The Tyee (an independent BC magazine), The Narwhal (formerly DeSmog, an environment-focused publication), and Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network (APTN). 


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Jim Storrie

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