The Daily GRRR! - Nov. 10, 2014 - Your “Ugh, Monday Morning” Edition

The Daily GRRR! HEADLINES for Nov. 10, 2014. 1. Indigenous elder violently arrested at Kinder Morgan protest camp in BC. 2. Activists mock facial expression ‘assault’ charge from Kinder Morgan. 3. Quebec National Assembly calls on province to review Energy East risks. 4. Ontario calls inquest into deaths of indigenous students in Thunder Bay. 5. First Nations chiefs ask for more dialogue with Ontario municipal leaders. 6. Saskatoon high schoolers organize round dance for #MMIW. 7. Protests prompt Australia to revoke visa for misogynistic ‘pick-up artist’. 8. RCMP reveals plan to build 700km surveillance between us and the U.S. 9. California voters strike a blow against the prison industrial complex.
Listen to Audio:  DailyGrrrNov10.mp3

Welcome back to SoundFM! You are now listening to The Daily GRRR! live on the airwaves at 100.3fm, CKMS in Waterloo, Ontario, and on the web. This is Kathryn and I’ll be your host on this Monday morning show for November 10, 2014.

As always, we are broadcasting from the heart of the Haldimand Tract, the occupied Grand River Territory of the Six Nations, which we continue to recognize as Haudenosaunee land.

The Daily GRRR! is a project of the Grand River Media Collective and is supported by the Community Radio Fund of Canada and CKMS.

We will begin today with headlines:
The Daily GRRR!
HEADLINES for Nov. 10, 2014 
1. Indigenous elder violently arrested at Kinder Morgan protest camp in BC
2. Activists mock facial expression ‘assault’ charge from Kinder Morgan
3. Quebec National Assembly calls on province to review Energy East risks
4. Ontario calls inquest into deaths of indigenous students in Thunder Bay
5. First Nations chiefs ask for more dialogue with Ontario municipal leaders
6. Saskatoon high schoolers organize round dance for #MMIW
7. Protests prompt Australia to revoke visa for misogynistic ‘pick-up artist’
8. RCMP reveals plan to build 700km surveillance fence between us and the U.S.
9. California voters strike a blow against the prison industrial complex

1. Indigenous elder violently arrested at Kinder Morgan protest camp in BC

As reported by the Vancouver Observer, Friday afternoon saw the first arrest of a Trans Mountain pipeline demonstrator after the month-long demonstration atop Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia. RCMP officers were talking to several of the protesters and the site remained peaceful until one officer decided he wanted to poke around inside the protesters’ camp, which is set up in a public park. However, standing in his path was Mel Clifton, an elder from the Tsimshian and Gitxan nations who was standing at the entrance and explained that he would not allow the officer through.

“I’m a sovereign citizen. You’re on unceded territory. …I don’t recognize your authority,” Clifton said. The officer told Clifton he would arrest him for obstruction, but Clifton bravely stood his ground. The officer then grabbed Clifton by the arm and slammed him into a parked vehicle before being joined by two other officers who helped him to manhandle the peaceful elder even more forcefully. They put him in a squad car and detained him at the Burnaby RCMP detachment for several hours, before he was released with a Promise to Appear notice for his appointed court date. However, it was reported that official charges have not yet been laid, so it is possible that Clifton won’t have to face any further undeserved consequences for his courageous actions. The same shouldn’t be said for the cops involved, whose violent response of ganging up 3-to-1 on the indigenous elder with a cane, no less, was caught on film by several other protesters. Not that we can realistically expect that the RCMP will be held accountable for their heavy-handed escalation of this altercation, or any other for that matter, but when has that ever stopped us from pointing out where justice is due?

2. Activists mock facial expression ‘assault’ charge from Kinder Morgan

As reported by The Huffington Post, anti-pipeline protesters in B.C. are having a good laugh over energy giant Kinder Morgan's latest court argument: that activists' facial expressions could constitute assault. The company is seeking an injunction against activists, who have been blockading pipeline work in Burnaby, but this most recent claim in their legal case has brought some welcome levity to the often-grueling grassroots struggle against fossil fuel development.

Corporate lawyer Bill Kaplan, who is representing Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain subsidiary in their injunction suit, made his argument to the Supreme Court of British Columbia and rounded out the absurdity with photographic ‘evidence’ of the protesters wielding these allegedly dangerous facial expressions. As he told the court, apparently with a straight face, “Some of the faces demonstrate the anger, and frankly, the violence demonstrated by some of the people… One of the things I will argue is that [it] is not only intimidation, but that [it] is actually an assault.”

This puts activists in a rather difficult position, doesn’t it? We’re not allowed to wear masks -- that could land us in jail for 5-10 years -- and now our very faces are being criminalized? Wow, you’d almost think Kinder Morgan was in cahoots with the botox business, as that’s probably the only way to ensure that any reasonable person wouldn’t wrinkle their nose at the idea of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion going through. But opponents of the project, including the mayor of Vancouver, are embracing the accusation and bringing Kinder Morgan’s lawyer more evidence on Twitter, posting selfies of themselves grimacing and sticking out their tongues with the now-trending #KMFace.

3. Quebec National Assembly calls on province to review Energy East risks

The report comes to us from a press release issued by Environmental Defence last week on the occasion of Quebec’s National Assembly asking the province to claim its own jurisdiction in assessing the dangerous impacts of Trans Canada’s proposed Energy East Pipeline, which would pump 1.1-million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada. The reason for this request to the province is, to quote the Environmental Defence statement, that “the Assembly has recognized the federal regulatory process for energy projects is broken.”

As the statement goes on to explain, “The National Energy Board is barred by the federal government from considering the upstream air, water and climate impacts of the projects it reviews, regardless of how serious those impacts may be.” Followers of the struggle against Enbridge’s Line 9B reversal project will recall how these restriction played out in that case, with restrictions on who qualified to intervene at the NEB hearings and a broad moratorium on any mention of climate change from opponents seeking to acknowledge the long-term dangers of tar sands expansion through projects of this kind.

The statement ends on an optimistic note, with the firm assertion that “We expect Quebec to follow through on this resolution, and call on the Ontario government to join with Quebec and review all of the potential impacts of Energy East, including the pipeline’s contribution to climate change.”

4. Ontario calls (FOR AN) inquest into deaths of indigenous students in Thunder Bay

As reported by CBC News, the announcement was made this past Thursday by Dr. Andrew McCallum, Ontario's chief coroner, who will hold a joint inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations teenagers from remote reserves who were living in Thunder Bay to attend high school. With few secondary school options available to indigenous teens living on remote reserves, the pursuit of education has forced many teens to leave their homes and families for settler-dominated cities like Thunder Bay. As Dr. McCallum acknowledged in his news release, “They're in a situation where they're isolated from their own communities, and [these teens] have passed away in circumstances that are similar, in that there are obviously complications involved. ...I felt that those factors all require a public hearing to elucidate them and understand them and hopefully make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths in the future.”

When asked by CBC News why he decided to call for the inquest now, McCallum explained that he had received a request from legal counsel for the Nishnabe Aski Nation. In reviewing the files for these cases he saw that ‘there were common elements”, and with the acknowledgement that these relocations indigenous teens are “obviously a population that's vulnerable…I felt that [an inquest into their deaths] was a reasonable request."

5. First Nations chiefs ask(ING) for more dialogue with Ontario municipal leaders

As reported by The Two Row Times, the Chiefs of Ontario Political Confederacy issued an open letter to the province’s politicians last week, asking for the newly elected municipal leaders to engage with them more actively on issues that affect indigenous residents. The letter explains that “[t]here are over 300,000 Indigenous people living in Ontario, many of whom live in urban centres and First Nations communities bordering major municipalities. When municipal elections take place within Ontario, a growing number of Indigenous people take to the polls, increasing voter turnout, which has risen an estimated 52.1% this year.

“First Nations are becoming increasingly engaged and involved politically in the municipal system, which influences the reality of poverty, employment, health care, education, housing and a number of other polarizing challenges they face. They want municipal leadership that will effectively address their issues. The Chiefs of Ontario Political Confederacy, made up of First Nations leadership from the various Treaty and First Nations areas within the Province of Ontario, extend their congratulations to all newly elected and returning municipal leaders. As municipal leaders take the time to consider their mandates, the Chiefs of Ontario Political Confederacy urge them to also begin outreach with First Nations communities and leaders within their regions to have a larger dialogue on issues of shared interest and concern. Municipal governance is changing.”

The letter highlights numerous partnerships between Ontario cities and First Nations who have already begun to work together in “innovative ways” for the mutual betterment of their communities. Moreover, they also allude, rather coyly, to the need for taking cooperative action on issues like proposed pipeline projects -- at least, that’s what I understand from reading between the lines. Here’s what that section of the letter says: “First Nations/municipal relationships will play an important role in determining how the province of Ontario evolves. In addition to the “bread/butter” and other issues that are galvanizing First Nations residents of your communities – municipalities need to also consider potential impacts of proposed project/decisions that impact on First Nations’ Treaty and Aboriginal rights.”

6. Saskatoon high schoolers organize round dance for #MMIW

As reported by CBC News, the idea of doing a traditional round dance to acknowledge the country’s growing number of missing and murdered indigenous women came from C.J. Prosper, a grade 12 student at Saskatoon’s Oskayak High School who was asked by his teacher to do a class project on the issue. In organizing a feast and a round dance, he said, the understanding is that “you invite the spirits of the dead to come and eat with you. And during a round dance, you invite them to come and dance with you. So, by doing a feast and a round dance, we're offering healing not only to ourselves, but to the families of those women."

But Prosper explained how the experience of organizing such a cultural event was far from easy. "[It was] a lot bigger than I thought it would be," he said. "Learning the proper protocol, being taught the proper protocol, there's a lot of things we didn't know walking into it." Nonetheless, organizing a round dance by themselves for the first time was an apparent success for the Saskatoon students and clearly encouraged by their school. According to the Oskayak school website, “The school itself is open to students of Aboriginal ancestry or anyone who is interested in learning about the historical and cultural aspects of the Plains Cree culture. It provides students with the opportunity to recapture their Aboriginal identity through spiritual growth.”

7. Protests prompt(ED) Australia to revoke visa for misogynistic ‘pick-up artist’

As reported by The Guardian, a so-called “pick-up artist” from the United States has cut short his Australian tour after having his visa cancelled in the wake of protests against his seminars, which promote dangerous and abusive behaviour towards women. Australians were outraged after discovering that Julien Blanc, who promotes himself as a “date coach”, was holding seminars to teach men how to “pick up” women using physical force and emotional abuse. Venues in Melbourne refused to host his events after protesters highlighted his videos, Twitter feeds and photos promoting violence against women and abuse as a means of attracting them. Blanc’s assistant then organized a seminar to be held on a boat cruising Melbourne’s Yarra river on Thursday night, but protesters rallied along the river and proceeded to trail the pair by boat. Melbourne River Cruises cancelled the event as soon as they were told what was happening, after which police escorted the men off the vessel.

The pair’s travel visas were cancelled that night, as was their “tour” which was planned to last through December. Blanc began his seminars in Sydney last week, but the movement against him had gained significant momentum by the time he reached Melbourne. The #TakeDownJulienBlanc Twitter campaign led by online activist Jennifer Li helped spread word of his talks, and an anti-Blanc Facebook page also emerged. An online petition urged Australia’s immigration minister to deport him and it has been reported that protesters holding placards with slogans such as “destroy rape culture” followed Blanc wherever he went. Neither Blanc nor his company have responded to requests for comment. According to his tour schedule, he is due to appear next in Japan, where we can only hope the inspiring feminist demonstrations will continue!

8. RCMP reveals plan to build 700km surveillance fence between us and the U.S.

According to a statement made by the Mounties this past Tuesday, a massive intelligence-gathering network of RCMP video cameras, radar, ground sensors, thermal radiation detectors and even more surveillance equipment will be erected along the U.S.-Canada border in Ontario and Quebec by 2018. Apparently, the $92-million surveillance web, formally known as the Border Integrity Technology Enhancement Project -- or, in acronymic terms, the BITE Project -- will be concentrated in more than 100 allegedly “high-risk” cross-border crime zones spanning 700 kilometres of eastern Canada. The network of electronic eyes is slated to run along the Quebec-Maine border to Morrisburg, Ont., then along the St. Lawrence Seaway, across Lake Ontario, and end just west of Toronto in Oakville. It seems like a strange role reversal for the Canadian government to be so concerned about the American side of the border, but this Orwellian security development has been rationalized as a measure to protect our side from smugglers and, now, terrorists. This has become an increasingly cited reason for problematic government decisions in the wake of the shooting on Parliament Hill last month, an attack that has since been acknowledged by the more reasonable among us as a criminal act undertaken by someone with severe and unaided mental health challenges rather than an organized terrorist attack, no matter how much the Harper government wants to spin it that way.

9. California voters strike a blow against the prison industrial complex

As reported by The Huffington Post, California approved a major shift against mass incarceration this past Tuesday in a vote that could lead to the release of thousands of state prisoners. Under the ballot measure in question, Proposition 47, nonviolent felonies like shoplifting and drug possession will be downgraded to misdemeanors and as many as 10,000 people could be eligible for early release from California’s 34 state prisons. Moreover, as of February this year, California has had about 9,000 state prisoners in four privately operated correctional centers in Arizona, Mississippi, and Oklahoma to relieve prison overcrowding in their own state, but this is likely to decrease from now own, as it's expected that courts will annually dispense around 40,000 fewer felony convictions in accordance with Proposition 47. It is also estimated that the new measure will save hundreds of millions of dollars on prisons, and rather than redirect those savings to something equally destructive of human life like increased military spending, the money is to be redirected to education, mental health and addiction services -- a novel approach that reformers hope will serve as a model in the larger push against mass incarceration.

Midway Music: Friend Zone by Dylan Garity

Double-Feature: Exploring the power of art and creative methods to resist, empower, and challenge two systemic issues, fossil fuel development and the prison industrial complex.

Article 1: ”This Canadian Artist Halted Pipeline Development by Copyrighting his Land as a Work of Art” by Stephen Keefe for
Article 2: ”An Artist Sent Prisoners Blank Postcards — Look At What He Got Back” by Ariel Min for PBS Newshour

The Daily GRRR! is on weekdays from 9-10am on 100.3fm CKMS in Waterloo, Ontario, and on the web.

The Daily GRRR! is a project of the Grand River Media Collective and is supported by the Community Radio Fund of Canada and CKMS.

Closing Song: Mumia’s Song by Anti-Flag