It’s likely you or someone you know have children who were swept up in the recent “student strike 4 climate” that was staged in B.C. communities and around the world, at least in places where citizens are still free to take to the streets.
Naturally staged on a Friday afternoon, students skipped class with support of teachers to march on government offices to wave placards. The largest rally in B.C. was, again naturally, at the legislature, where Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Green Party MLAs were enthusiastic supporters.
The chants will be familiar to those who have seen striking teachers and other unions do the same, generally on behalf of their pocketbooks rather than the planet. “What do we want? Climate action! When do we want it? Now!”
Leaving aside for a moment what they mean by “climate action,” what lesson is conveyed by these demonstrations? That’s obvious. The way to get what you want is to refuse to carry out your responsibilities and yell at elected leaders to do what you want them to do. Debate is not allowed. This won’t be a new experience for parents who depend on B.C. public schools.
The “climate action” demands are familiar as well. Stop the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion and the LNG Canada gas pipeline and export terminal project in northern B.C. Oh, and stop all industrial logging in “ancient temperate rainforests on Vancouver Island,” which is such a staple of Victoria protests it gets thrown in for every march.
By this time most people know that the taxpayers of Canada now own the 65-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline, and its expansion has been guaranteed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A futile effort by the B.C. NDP government to assert jurisdiction over this interprovincial infrastructure has begun at taxpayer expense at the B.C. Court of Appeal. Canada’s attorney general, among others, has submitted to the court that this is “unconstitutional.”
The LNG Canada project is supported by Premier John Horgan and Opposition Leader Andrew Wilkinson, representing 83 of the 87 seats in the legislature. It is opposed by three B.C. Green MLAs and a far-left fringe network that includes the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.
Organizers of the Unist’ot’en anti-pipeline protest camp in northwestern B.C. proudly display a declaration from the BCTF that it stands “in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs and the Wet’suwet’en people” against the project. In fact a splinter group of hereditary chiefs and their supporters are opposed, and elected band councils (representing the vast majority of actual people) all along the pipeline route are in favour.
According to student “climate strike” organizers in Victoria, total elimination of carbon fuel use has to happen in 10 years. The inconvenient truth is that there is no possible way to do this without economic collapse. There is no other way to grow and deliver food and other necessities to B.C. residents in anything near that time frame.
The BCTF urges people to “act on your positions of influence as teachers and community members by attending public information sessions, teach-ins, marches, rallies and other events that raise awareness of the devastating impacts of climate change and fossil fuel extraction.”
Horgan’s government is preparing new tax incentives to deliver the LNG Canada project, arguing that it will replace more carbon-intensive fuels and net the province billions over its life to provide employment and necessary services, including schools.
Students are getting a different message: democratic governments don’t matter.
Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org