Defend Our Coast Rallies Demonstrate Diversity of Public Opposition to Tar Sands Export and FIPA

Standing within the throng of demonstrators at last month's Defend Our Coast rally it became clear to me that a palpable shift in the collective expectations of Canadians had taken place. 

It is evident we expect positive action on climate change; we expect steps to be taken towards clean energy alternatives; we expect those alternatives to be made available to us, not by corporations, but by the individuals we've selected as our leaders; we expect those leaders to respect the rights of First Nations; we expect limits to be placed on the corporate exercise of power; and we expect abuses of that power to be met with swift and strict accountability.
Such expectations, however, appear increasingly out of step with our current political and economic regime, showing just how backwards Canada's bitumen bottom line obsession has become.
Under the current Harper government, scientists have been intimidated and silenced, production of oil and gas has accelerated at an unprecedented and unhealthy rate, massive budget cuts have gutted environmental legislation which would slow the pace and scale of bitumen production and its export, and those voices calling for balance, for sobriety, in the way we manage our resources have been blacklisted as foreign-funded radicals trying to “hijack” Canada.
Adding to the fury, the Harper government is now trying to undemocratically strong-arm a powerful international trade deal called FIPA through the House of Commons even though it's been called unconstitutional and a threat to Canadian sovereignty.
But if anything, the growing and diverse chorus of public opposition - as seen at the Defend Our Coast rallies - demonstrates just how bold the Canadian populace is prepared to be in the midst of an increasingly hostile battle to preserve our rights and democracy. 
Beyond the spirited display of solidarity at the October 22 Defend Our Coast rally which saw 5000 gather at the Victoria provincial legislature, 7000 individuals gathered at the offices of MLA's across the province on October 24, creating an 'unbroken wall of opposition' to the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline and the tar sands export policies the project supports.
Here are some incredible images from October 22 in Victoria by Zack Embree.
And more of Zack's photos from October 24th's Link Arms Across BC, attended by 7000 people at MLA offices across the province.
Defend Our Coast put together this video to highlight the numerous actions that took place across BC, from Bella Bella to Nelson. For more photos, see Zack Embree's photostream on facebook.

In lockstep with the campaign to prevent the construction of tar sands pipelines and export tankers is the anti-FIPA movement, which generally holds that Canada needs to tighten the reins on bitumen production, not rescind its authority to foreign national energy companies that may not have this country's best interest at heart.

Because Canadian confidence in the government is at a shocking low, and public trust in Big Oil is flagging even moreso, the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) has all but imploded under fierce national opposition.

This week, campaigners with and traveled to Ottawa to deliver 60,000 signatures opposing the trade deal that would put Canada in a legal straitjacket for 31 years in all matters regarding Chinese investors and their interests in the tar sands and export thoroughfares like the Northern Gateway Pipeline.

Since the petition's delivery, nearly an additional 11,000 signatures have been collected, bringing the total to 70,923 as of today.

As a country already suffering a massive crisis of confidence in our current government, the wholesale surrender of decision-making authority under FIPA appears as the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. 

The Defend Our Coast organizers are preparing to carry the opposition forward, with personal action kits in the works. So stay tuned and join in for more creative ways to voice your concerns about Canadian energy, environment and democracy.

And if you haven't already jumped in to support these anti-FIPA causes, there's no time like the present: and's Stop the Sellout: Canada is Not for Sale
The Council of Canadians Open Letter to Stephen Harper