Guide to the law of protests in british columbia ‘Cedar as Sister’: Indigenous Law and the Common Law of Protests



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GUIDE
TO THE LAW OF PROTESTS


IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

Cedar as Sister’: Indigenous Law



and the Common Law of Protests

Prepared by:


Leo McGrady Q.C.

McGrady & Company

Lawyers

1105 – 808 Nelson Street



Vancouver, Canada, V6H 2H2

lmcgrady@mcgradylaw.ca

GUIDE TO THE LAW OF

PROTESTS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
Leo McGrady Q.C.

Contents

Introduction 1

First Nations Edition 2

First Nations Protests 4

Idle No More Protests 7

Examples of Civil Disobedience 8

The Occupy Movement 10

A Right to Protest 11

Readings 14

Demonstrations 16

Protecting your identity 16

What to bring 17

What to leave at home 19

Watch what you say 19

Voluntary dispersal 20

Involuntary dispersal by riot police 20

Social Media Censorship Controls 22

Legal Observers and Patrols 22

Are the police bothering You? 24

Prior contact with the police 24

Identifying yourself 25

Police Surveillance 25

Do the police have to identify themselves? 27

Racial profiling: the offence of demonstrating while Muslim 27

Hijacking your protest 28

Detention 29

Arrest 30

Arrest with a warrant 30

Arrest without a warrant 30

You may not wish to speak to anyone regarding your arrest 31

Arrested for what? 31

Ask the police if you are under arrest and if so, what the charge is 32

The most common charges 34

Mischief 34

Electronic civil disobedience and mischief 34

Assault 35

Obstructing a police officer 36

Causing a disturbance 37

Unlawful assembly 38

Searches 38

Search incidental to an investigative detention 39

Search incidental to arrest 39

Types of searches 39

Other Issues 40

Consequences of having a criminal record 40

Complaints against the police 41

False imprisonment / false arrest 41

Interception of private communication 41

Malicious prosecution 42

Injunctions 42

Contempt of Court 43

Interference with contractual relations 44

Picketing and leafleting 45

Trespass 46

Post–9/11 Legislation 47

The Anti-Terrorism Act 48

The Public Safety Act, 2002 50

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code 50

An Act to amend the Foreign Missions and

International Organizations Act 51

An Act to amend the Criminal Code


(Criminal Liability of Organizations) 51

Demonstrating in the United States 52

Conclusion 54



Introduction



The idea that justice is blind and that everyone is equal before the law reminds me of a traditional story that I have heard over the years, in which Coyote tries to convince a band of ducks that he had their best interest at heart.
Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian, (Random House, Canada, 2012);

Mr. King is a Cherokee activist, teacher, and writer.


The rich people have their lobbyists and the poor people have their feet.

Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association.


Historians offer evidence that some extra-legal activity always has had to be, and always will have to be, accepted by the legal system. Philosophers provide us with a rather uncomfortable insight that many brands of intentionally disobedient conduct may be justifiable and there is no bright line to help lawyers and Courts, who … actually have to make decisions.

Professors Judy Fudge and Harry Glasbeek, “Civil Disobedience, Civil Liberties

and Civil Resistance: Law’s Role and Limits,” (2003) 41 Osgoode Hall

Law Journal
165 at 172.

I have written this paper to inform you of your rights when dealing with the police at public demonstrations. It is designed to help you exercise your right to engage in non-violent protests and civil disobedience, and to avoid committing any criminal offence. It is also designed to assist you in the event you are arrested.

This version is a further revision of a presentation made at a conference held on December 7, 2012 at S.F.U. Harbour Center in Vancouver. The conference was entitled Days of Dissent: Rights Under Attack in Canada. It was sponsored by Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, Amnesty International, the Council of Canadians, and the New Media Journalism Program, S.F.U. Continuing Studies.
The original Protesters’ Guide was written in 1968–70, to assist those demonstrating in opposition to the Vietnam War, revised for the War Measures Act in September of 1970, and then revised again in 1973 to address protests against U.S. sponsoring of the Chilean military coup.
It has gone through many revisions over the intervening years. A significant revision was made in 2009, and was intended to assist those who opposed the loss of many of our basic freedoms during the Olympics and who wished to express that opposition in the form of non-violent civil disobedience.

First Nations Edition

This revision, the first to address the issue of Indigenous law, was prompted in part by a recent conversation with Chief Doug Neasloss, Chief of the Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nations in Klemtu, British Columbia, as a way of focusing on First Nations’ opposition and resistance to Enbridge. This revision was also influenced by an earlier conversation in the spring of 2011 with David Eby, then Executive Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, in which he raised the issue of the growing militancy of the First Nations – particularly through the CFN - the Coastal First Nations - over the manner in which the issues of pipelines on Indigenous lands, and oil tankers moving through waters in which First Nations have held ancient fishing rights were being addressed throughout British Columbia. I cannot recall a project at any time in recent B.C.’s history that has provoked as dramatic an opposition from the First Nations community as Enbridge’s 6 billion-dollar Gateway project. And finally, it was prompted by a number of conversations over the years with my son, Tim McGrady, whose view has been that despite almost 300 years of promises, the equality that Thomas King speaks of remains far off for many First Nations.

For most of our history, the accepted view of the common law, and lawyers practicing common law, was that First Nations had no real laws. The land that they happen to occupy existed in a juridical vacuum when the first Europeans arrived.
That view was best described and critiqued in a recent paper by Louise Mandell, Q.C. A Constitution Story, presented last month in Vancouver at the Continuing Legal Education Conference on the “Indigenous Legal Orders and the Common Law”. The notion that there is no real Indigenous law is still found in our legislature, in our Courts, and amongst the legal profession. Change has been slow, and remains precarious.
One of the most compelling examinations of the relationship between Indigenous law and the common law is in a paper delivered at the same conference by Chief Justice Lance Finch of the British Columbia Court of Appeal, The Duty to Learn: Taking account of Indigenous Legal Orders in Practice. In the paper he reviews the cases which make it clear that a Court has an obligation to take into account the Aboriginal legal perspective. Equal weight must be placed on the Aboriginal perspective and the common law perspective.
That applies with equal force to the civil and to the criminal law, as well as to the law of protest covered in this paper.

I have avoided lengthy quotes in this Guide until now. But this language is simply compelling:

34. ….[H]ere I come to the heart of the matter. From the outset of our education as Canadian lawyers, indeed from the outset of our education, we are immersed in a particular context and point of view. This saturation far transcends our legal training, of course: the experience of a cultural narrative in any form, or on any subject, will be informed….by our understandings of place, kinship, and ideas about personhood. This is largely an unconscious process. Whether reading a novel or perusing a judgment, our accrued experience sets off a constant series of connective sparks, or internal signals, affirmations, and disruptions, all at a level so deeply ingrained as to take place, most of the time, below the radar of awareness. And it is dangerously easy to carry our unconscious matrices of interpretation to our approach to another culture's values and laws.

35. Recognizing and addressing this form of perceptual distortion is perhaps the single most important precondition to the Canadian legal community's meaningful incorporation of Indigenous legal orders. The danger in retaining and imposing our ideas of what constitutes "law," according to our training and established habits of mind, is that we may inadvertently give weight only to those elements of an Aboriginal legal system which are recognizable in Canadian law, rendering the Canadian legal framework determinative. At the same time, we may fail to perceive essential elements of these legal orders. At the very least, we must question our assumptions; at most, we must unlearn them. Not, of course, in every context. But for purposes of approaching Aboriginal legal orders, we must do our utmost to recognize and to relinquish our preconceptions of what objectively constitutes a "law" or a "system of laws."
44. As part of this process, I suggest the current Canadian legal system must reconcile itself to co­existence with pre-existing Indigenous legal orders. This conference poses the question: How can we make space within the legal landscape for Indigenous legal orders? The answer depends, at least in part, on an inversion of the question: a crucial part of this process must be to find space for ourselves, as strangers and newcomers, within the Indigenous legal orders themselves.
The Chief Justice closes with this comment:
45. …For non-Indigenous lawyers, judges, and students, this awareness is not restricted to recognizing simply that there is much we don’t know. It is that we don’t know how much we don’t know.

Before proceeding, I should say a word about my title. The language ‘Cedar as Sister’ is taken from the argument of Haida Counsel, Terry-Lynn Williams-Davidson’s argument before the Supreme Court of Canada in Haida Nations v. British Columbia Minister of Forest, (2004) SCC 73, in order to explain the Haida perspective on the rights at issue. It is meant to contrast between cedar as family and sustenance in every respect on the one hand, and cedar as capital in the way that white societies traditionally view cedar as a disposable commodity on the other hand. [Quoted by Professor M. Jackson, Q.C. in “A Re-imagined and Transformed Legal Landscape, Indigenous Legal Orders and the Common Law, Paper 3.3, November 2012, page 3.3.4].

Everyone must make his or her own individual choice about whether or not to engage in civil disobedience. It is our responsibility to become fully informed about the consequences that may follow from engaging in any form of protest.
The information that follows is of a general nature. It will not answer every question you have and may not apply in every case. I have written about the law as it applies in Canada and specifically in British Columbia as of January 1, 2013.
It is also important to note that the information in this paper should not be relied upon in any legal proceeding, as it is not a replacement for proper legal advice.
When exercised as collective action, protests and civil disobedience can be particularly effective in motivating social and political change. The long history of civil disobedience, as practiced by different peoples around the world, is mirrored here in British Columbia.

First Nations Protests

Indigenous peoples in Canada have engaged in various forms of protest since their lands were first colonized under British and then Canadian law, hundreds of years ago.


There are many sources of unrest amongst First Nations, not the least of which is the continued statistics that indicate that they have the country’s lowest life expectancy, the highest child mortality, and the highest proportion of children not graduating from Grade 8 or high school. While the residential schools have now been closed for approximately six years, the issue of the physical and psychological scarring by that abuse has still not been adequately addressed.

In addition, some argue that not much has really changed with respect to schooling because Canada is now using the underfunding of Aboriginal schools as a tool of assimilation. The discrepancy in funding is not a small matter, but rather from 20% to 40% less.

As well, some have gone so far as to refer to the reserve system as creating a series of prisoner of war camps.
First Nations have been resorting to protests on a much more dramatic scale in recent months over these conditions, and over the ever-expanding oil, gas, and coal development on their lands. Their anger has been reinforced by the “bogus economics” used by Enbridge to justify its pipeline proposal. One expert described the company’s case as “not professional, not reliable, and not believable.”
In earlier editions of this Guide, I have used the expression ‘civil disobedience’ in describing First Nations protests. That was modified after a discussion with Chief Phillip Lane during the ‘Days of Dissent Conference at Simon Fraser University on December 7, 2012. His point is that Indigenous peoples are not engaging in civil disobedience when they are protesting these issues. It is their land and their fishing rights that are being jeopardized by the illegal conduct of the governments and corporations. The only conduct that is ‘disobedient’ is that of the governments and corporations.

Chief Lane also emphasized that many of the assumptions that had been used to ease this illegal taking of land and rights from First Nations are now being called into question by scientific research in a range of different fields. Although there continues to be a lack of consensus, a great deal of sound scientific work has been done that suggests Indigenous populations in the Americas were much more numerous, had arrived earlier, and were culturally more sophisticated then had previously been assumed. He also argued that what was termed the New World was in fact not wilderness at all at the time of the arrival of the first Europeans but rather an environment that had been carefully managed by Indigenous people for their benefit. These propositions are best summarized by a well-known science writer Charles C. Mann in his recent book 1491, published by Random House of Canada Ltd. [2nd edition, 2011].

Examples of First Nations protests over the centuries are too numerous to enumerate. Some of these have begun as peaceful protests, but tragically resulted in violence and/or the deaths of aboriginal people.
One of such example is the death of Dudley George a peaceful First Nations protester, during the 1995 crisis at Ipperwash, Ontario, involving the Stoney Point Ojibway. The violence that flowed from this peaceful protest, as with many others, was stereotypically, and wrongly, attributed to the First Nations participants initiating the peaceful protest. These were the findings of the Ontario High Court Judge Linden, in his inquiry into the protest and death. In his report he also states:
The experience of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stoney Point First Nations, illustrates the frustration and anger that can result from the failure of Federal and Provincial governments to take treaty obligations seriously. It also illustrates how failure to educate Ontario citizens on the treaty relationships that lie at the foundation of their Province can contribute to misunderstandings and conflict.
(Vol. 2, Page 81, The Ipperwash Inquiry, May 31, 2007,
www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/inquiries/ipperwash/index
There are a number of summaries of the Ipperwash Inquiry available online. They are absolutely compelling. Amongst other extraordinary facts surfacing during the inquiry, was the fact that the Provincial government had known for over 50 years of the legitimacy of the Chippewas-Stony Point claim that their burial ground was being used as a provincial park. It also emerged that one OPP Inspector had characterized the Harris government during the occupation as “red necked” and “in love with guns”.

One of the best examples of what was originally a peaceful protest turning violent was the 1990 Oka crisis. Here the Mohawks finally took a stand when a golf course was to be built on Mohawk ancestral lands. The Quebec police, and later the Canadian military, intervened and attacked the barricade that had been peacefully erected by the Mohawks on July 11, 1990.

A member of the S.Q., Corporal Marcel Lemay, was shot and killed in a firefight that occurred during the occupation. An excellent NFB film by Alanis Obomsawin is available at: http://archives.cbc.ca.
In November of 1981, here in Vancouver, Native women entered the offices of the Department of Indian Affairs in the “Black Tower” on Georgia and Granville Streets. They refused to leave until the department agreed to an inquiry into the appalling living conditions on the Women’s Reserves. Some were later arrested and charged.
One of the most dramatic protests by First Nations people was in 1985 in which Haida, with some Elders wearing ceremonial button blankets, protested on a logging road on Lyell Island in South Moresby, to which Western Forest Products owned the cutting rights. Over a two-week period some seventy-two people were arrested. They were subsequently charged and convicted of contempt of Court. This led in July of 1987 to the two levels of Government signed a memorandum of agreement creating the 1,495 square kilometers, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage site.
In the summer of 2012, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nations in Klemtu British Columbia, members of the Coastal First Nations, delivered a message to hunters about to engage in the Fall Trophy Hunt for white spirit bears, that the Kitasoo and Xai’xais viewed the hunt as illegal and would blockade the hunt. They readied a fleet of fishing boats to conduct the blockade and act as watchmen over the bear population.

In the summer of the previous year, they protested against the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ plan to engage in research in their territory, which they knew to be a prelude to opening their territory to fishing. When protests were initially unheard, they contacted the license holders, asking them not to enter their territory. They advised that the neighbouring First Nations, numbering approximately 15,000 members, were ready to send in dozens of boats to disrupt and obstruct the research.

The Kitasoo/Xai’xais are also playing a significant role along with other First Nations in the rapidly developing opposition to the Enbridge Pipeline. They have understandably remained out of the NEB hearing process over its failure to address their First Nations title and rights. They strongly object to NEB’s refusal to treat them in the appropriate government-to-government manner, but instead insist on treating them as one of a series of ‘interested parties’ making submissions.
Some of their opposition also focuses on the recent Bill C-38 revisions, such as giving the Cabinet the ability to reverse any Joint Review Panel decision, the dramatic shortening of the original timeframe for the panel to report, and the removal of key oversight features from the legislation.
Similar protests were held in 2003 by the Heiltsuk and Nuxalk Community, as well as other First Nations from Alaska and Washington, at Ocean Falls, protesting the building of a fish farm by a Norwegian company, Panfish.
The Sun Peaks ski resort has been the site of protests by members of the Shuswap Nation opposing the continued development of the resort on aboriginal land.
On June 29, 2007, the first Aboriginal Day of Action took place on which First Nations groups across the country participated in protests and demonstrations, including a blockade of Highway 401 in southern Ontario.
In November 2012, members of the Wet’suweten Nation announced that surveyors for Apache Canada - Pacific Trails Pipeline were trespassing on their territory. The company had been surveying for the natural gas project. They announced that the road leading into the Wet’suweten territory was closed to all industry activities until further notice.

Members of the Musqueam First Nations blocked traffic on the Arthur Lang Bridge between Vancouver and Richmond in May of this year to protest a nearby condominium development on an ancient Musqueam burial site. They forced the closure of the bridge to Richmond and to the Vancouver International Airport in the midst of the morning commute.
In early December, 2012, sixteen people were arrested for blocking access to the Wilson Creek area in the Sunshine Coast communities’ forest license area in the traditional territory of the Sechelt First Nation.

Idle No More Protests


Idle No More is a grassroots First Nations movement protesting Bill C-45, with supporters of the movement across the country saying they are going to continue to focus pressure on the Harper government. Bill C-45, which received final Senate approval last week, will generate severe environmental damage as well as remove key sections of the Indian Act dealing with land sovereignty and other treaty rights.

First Nations protests and marches have been held across the country over the past months to demand the Conservative government to reverse Bill C-45, legislation that First Nations say will dramatically impact traditional land use. Many are following the protest using the #idlenomore hashtag.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence embarked on a hunger strike on December 11, 2012. Her objective was to pressure the Federal government to honor the treaty signed in the first few years of the last century. The treaty covers much of what is now Northern Ontario, including the Attawapiskat reserve near the mouth of the Attawapiskat River as it enters into James Bay - a reserve which everyone acknowledges is absolutely impoverished. She must deal daily with problems in common with many Indian reserves but there more extreme – low levels of education, extremely high levels of unemployment, suicides and rampant drug addiction.

The treaty promised money, education and health care in exchange for sharing the land. But like other Chiefs throughout the country, she argues that the Federal government has never lived up to the treaty. Her hunger strike has become a lightning rod for First Nations protest across the country. It has also attracted a great deal of support beyond the First Nations community.

Her concerns are also reflected by members of the Serpent River First Nation near Elliott Lake. They have protested Bill C-45 by shutting down the TransCanada highway for a short period over the December 22, 2012 weekend. Its focus is on the changes in Bill C-45 affecting Canada’s lakes and rivers, many of which are on or run through First Nations reserves. Similar concerns over water have been expressed by members of the Oji-Cree First Nations living on a remote northern Ontario reserve, who have had to deal with a boil-water advisory sense 2005.

On Sunday, December 23, 2012, over 100 people demonstrated in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in protest against Bill C–45 and in support of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.

On December 20, 2012, protesters from Kahnawake marched along the Mercier Bridge, which links Montreal with the South Shore, to protest against Bill C-45 and in support of Chief Spence’s hunger strike.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in northern Alberta blockaded the highway near Fort McMurray. Chief Alan Adam stated that the Federal government is clearing the way for development on traditional land, and that the oil sands operations have already damaged rivers and lakes in their territory. Bill C-45, he said, "gives the green light to destroy the rest." “The people are standing up and saying enough is enough," Adam said. The Athabasca Chipewyan Band has been raising concerns for years about the impact of the oil sands on the environment and on the health of people living in the area.

In Montréal, over 30 Mohawk protesters blocked and slowed vehicle traffic over the on-ramp of a bridge connecting downtown Montréal to the city's south shore to denounce the government's budget legislation. First Nations were recently among the organizers of another flash mob in support of the Idle No More movement. They brought together over 200 people who danced in a busy Montréal shopping mall to raise awareness about the Federal omnibus budget law, Bill C-45, which they argue affects treaty rights and removes protection from rivers and lakes that flow through their territory.

We know that for at least several years in the past the RCMP Headquarters Criminal Intelligence Unit had what was apparently a permanent group of officers conducting extensive surveillance on First Nations protests.

They claimed to have dismantled it at Headquarters but they have not indicated thus far whether a similar unit operates at their regional offices. In my view, it is reasonable and practical to assume that it does. Most of the monitored protests related to lands and resources on traditional territories for First Nations. While the RCMP subsequently denied spying and surveillance, it is clear that they, and other police forces, have routinely conducted that kind of monitoring of First Nations protests in particular. They claim to have collected the information from discussions with First Nations leadership and public sources. That assurance was received with some skepticism.


Examples of Civil Disobedience

Our province also has an extensive and remarkably consistent record of conflict between lawmakers, employers and working people. In July 1918, United Mine Workers organizer and pacifist, Albert “Ginger” Goodwin, was shot by a private policeman outside Cumberland. His murder sparked Canada’s first general strike as B.C. workers walked off the job in protest.


The Doukhobors, a Christian group of Russian origin who settled in the Kootenays, have used a variety of civil disobedience techniques to defend their pacifist and religious beliefs over the past century.
In the late 1980’s, gay and lesbian activists adopted some wonderfully inventive and ultimately effective ACT UP tactics to bring awareness to the need for anti-discriminatory employment and spousal rights’ laws.
In 1983, in Operation Solidarity, a coalition of unions, community and church groups opposed government legislative attacks on human and labour rights. The resistance led to some of the largest demonstrations and marches in the history of the country, including one in Vancouver numbering 40,000 people.
Since 1984, the Nanoose Conversion Campaign has included a series of civil disobedience actions by protesters opposed to American underwater nuclear weapons testing in the Georgia Strait.
The “Clayquot Summer” of 1993 was a non-violent environmental protest that led to the arrests of more than 850 people. It was one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history, and resulted in reforms to B.C.’s forest practice laws.

Over the past several decades, a wide range of B.C. citizens have joined in anti-corporate globalization actions, from the Asian-Pacific Economic Forum meetings at the University of British Columbia to the World Trade Organization in Seattle, and to the FTAA Free Trade Area of the Americas events in Quebec City.

One of the most humorous acts of civil disobedience involved the distribution of 20,000 news box copies of a parody edition of the Province newspaper around APEC on November 19, 1997. The intent of the publishers, Guerrilla Media, was to switch attention from constant topics such as motorcade protocol to the issue of why fair trade had never made it into any debate about free trade.
Guerrilla Media even devised and published its own dictionary, which it credited tongue-in- cheek to Conrad Black, who had not yet begun his prison term, and was still a media magnate. Whenever one of Black’s editors came up with a suspect word, such as ‘corporate agenda’ or ‘child labour’, the word would immediately be transformed into a corrected phrase. For example, the phrase ‘corporate agenda’ would become ‘common sense; ‘child labour’ would become ‘youth reliance program’; ‘sweatshop’ would become ‘profit center’, and so on.
One of the new models of civil disobedience is the monthly Critical Mass Bike Ride, protesting a range of issues from inadequate facilities for bicycles, to our society’s reliance on motor vehicles. During the summer months the ride can involve as many as several thousand cyclists traveling slowly through some of Vancouver’s main streets.
The protests are peaceful and respectful of others - but do slow or impede vehicles in heavily traveled parts of the city. The riders also tend to ignore stop signs and red lights at intersections. They are often dressed in humorous costumes and at times include entire families, from ages five to seventy-five.
The rides, which originated in San Francisco almost twenty years ago, have grown to regular events in many cities worldwide.

The effective use of humorous props in the course of civil disobedience was best illustrated in Québec city in April 2001 during the Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA) protest. A giant fence had been set up around the old city where the 34 heads of state and their entourages were meeting. Immediately inside the fence were several thousand riot police. The protesters wore pots and colanders on their heads. They had built a full sized catapult and used it to lob teddy bears over the fence and onto the riot police. The protesters were accompanied by kilt-wearing bag-pipe players. Public sympathy in the end clearly favored the position of those protesting, and the trade deal was never signed. There are photographs both of the police line and the teddy bear catapult in the reception area of my office.

The Occupy Movement

Occupy-Vancouver, a remarkable event which began in October 2012, involved approximately 5000 people taking part in protests centering at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Similar protests had been taking place throughout Canada and the United States, and as far as Hong Kong, with some measure of coordination amongst Occupy groups in various cities. Coordination of protests of this sort was unique, and far more sophisticated and extensive than, for example, was seen in the coordination by various groups throughout Canada and the United States during the Vietnam War in the late 60s and early 70s. A fascinating account of the early days of the Occupy movement in New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and other cities in the U.S. can be found in Guild Notes volume 36, number 4, pages 3 – 10, published by the National Lawyers Guild and available at http://www.nlg.org/resource/guild-notes.


Occupy’s primary focus was on 2 issues – income equality, and the influence of money in politics. One of the most popular posters/placards of the thousands that surfaced from an Occupy member is, “if money is speech, then debt is censorship”.
In Vancouver the protesters erected over 150 tents, and provided food, health and safety services on a volunteer basis around the clock. Although a series of injunctions sought by the City, and then by the Attorney General ended the occupation at that location and others by late November, the protesters continue to meet, and to operate as an organizing center for ongoing protests.

The core of Occupy protest groups continue to exist and continue to be active, even after the passage of a year and a half since they first surfaced. They continue their work in the community in the U.S., helping homeowners to fight foreclosures, work with trade union organizers and successful union drives, and are close to forming their own bank. They have received a great deal of advice and assistance from community banks including Chicago’s largest, as well as moonlighting financial advisors.

Other examples include the expanding protests over until recently one of the lower mainland’s best kept secrets - the proposed construction of the new and expanded coal port facilities in Metro Vancouver – which would make it the largest exporter of coal in North America. The Neptune terminal in North Vancouver would have its capacity increased by a 3rd to 18.5 million tonnes of metallurgical coal. A second new facility for American thermal coal would be built at Fraser Surrey Docks, for export to Asia.
In May 2012, thirteen people – members of the Stop-Coal coalition - were arrested in White Rock for standing on the rails and blocking a coal train on its way to Roberts Bank. The wide diversity in age and occupation of the members of this group are becoming the norm amongst protest groups in this country, in addition to the First Nations protests. Amongst others, the Stop-Coal group included a trade unionist, an economist, and a molecular biologist.
While the oil sands protests have attracted a great deal of media coverage, the reality is that greenhouse gas production from coal-fired power plants in the U.S. is far greater – some estimates suggest 40 times greater - than those from the oil sands.



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