By Angela Bischoff and Tooker Gomberg, Edmonton, Alberta.
A winter camp for justice in the oilpatch is established to protest pollution, and police dirty tricks.
Hello, fellow travellers on the Big Blue Marble. Herewith is a bit of news.
We are dreaming, and planning to return to our Greenspiration travels in the wee days of April. We aim to ride (boat and mass transit) from Canadian coast to coast to coast. The first leg will see us pedal west into the sunset as far as the spine of the continent, and then we’ll criss cross the Rockies before heading towards Canada’s west coast.
We’ll have stories aplenty to share, to be sure.
In the meantime, as is our nature, we are embroiled in another campaign.
Here in Alberta, the earth is under assault. There is probably nowhere else on the planet which is being attacked with such frenzy. A while back a local newspaper trumpeted that, of the 10 largest engineering projects in the world, 6 were in Alberta – 4 right here in northern Alberta.
The oil and gas industry has been busy poking holes in the earth like it was a voodoo doll, flaring and venting noxious fumes all the while. In 1997 alone, almost 20,000 oil and gas applications were filed, with just 55 turned down. For years, many farmers and ranchers have complained about health problems in their animals and their families. The government has turned a deaf ear.
It took some monkey-wrenching and some explosions for the media and the public to finally take notice. And last August a man named Wiebo Ludwig, among others, was arrested, but the charges were later dropped, and things went quiet… until last October, when a gas well facility blew up.
Local people were terrified and anxious. A public meeting was held with an imported “terrorism expert”. Emotions ran high. The Ludwig family received anonymous death threats. The RCMP (Canada’s national police force) received an extra $7.9 million from the government to battle organized crime and “ecoterrorism”. Industry also kicked in some cash to help the police out.
Then last week a new bombshell hit: the explosion had actually been undertaken by the RCMP themselves! They claimed to have done it to establish the credibility of an informant who had also been bought off by a gas company.
Outraged, we helped organize Wednesday’s Rally For Justice In The Oilpatch at the RCMP headquarters, and it received favourable coverage across the country.
As the rally wound down, one guy decided to stay. With a shovel, he piled up snow to a 2 metre height, let it sit for a couple of hours, and then carved out a snow dome called a quinze (pronounced quin-zee). The Winter Camp For Justice In The Oilpatch was established, and several people have been visiting and sleeping there ever since, even with outside temperatures dipping to minus 15 celsius.
We’ll keep you posted on how things develop, and if you’d like to send words of encouragement, or drop by with hot chocolate or blankets, please do! We’ll also send you a copy of the petition that we’re circulating. Please do consider signing it and/or circulating it.
Tooker and Angela