Category Archives: Politics

Haters still gonna hate

Wingnut sighting! Turns out that Josh Steffler is now deputy leader of the BC Libertarian Party and he’s planning to run in the May 2017 BC election. Have the years mellowed his petulant rage at everyone who is not a white male Libertarian? Apparently not!

This month, Josh is angry at women. Thousands of women, and some men, too. While other provincial politicians came to the Women’s March to shake hands and express support, Steffler stood on the sidelines with members of the alt-right group We Are Change and heckled the marchers.

Josh Steffler (centre) with a sign mocking trans people at the Women's March

Josh Steffler (center) with a sign mocking trans people at the Women’s March in Victoria, January 21 2017. The other side of the sign reads “Grab Life By the Pussy.”

Truly a bold campaign strategy!

Full report and more photos at Anti Racist Action.

Earlier encounters with Josh Steffler and We Are Change:

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Filed under Feminism, Josh Steffler, Misogyny, Politics, Racism, Ryan Elson, transphobia, We Are Change Victoria, Wingnuts, Zoe Blunt

To Save a Rainforest

CathedralGrove save walbran
“I’m in love. With salmon, with trees outside my window, with baby lampreys living in sandy streambottoms, with slender salamanders crawling through the duff. And if you love, you act to defend your beloved.” — Derrick Jensen

Pacific Coast people have always defended the places we love. Most of British Columbia is unceded indigenous land, because native peoples never abandoned, sold, or traded their land away. Many fought fiercely against the power of the British Empire. Cannonballs are sometimes still found embedded in centuries-old trees along the shore – leftovers from the gunboats that tried to suppress indigenous uprisings in the late 1800s.

Photo: Nuu-chah-nulth war canoes by Edward Curtis, BC Historical Society

Nuu-chah-nulth war canoes (Edward Curtis, BC Historical Society)

A century later, descendants of the settlers have joined forces to battle corporate raiders. In the 1980s and 1990s, a groundswell of eco-organizing brought thousands of people together to stop clearcut logging in the cathedral forests of Vancouver Island’s Pacific coast, where timber companies were busy converting ten-thousand-year-old ecosystems into barren stumpfields and pulp for paper.

During those years, police arrested hundreds in Clayoquot Sound and the Walbran Valley at mass civil disobedience protests. Young and old alike sat in the middle of the logging roads and linked arms. The resistance went far beyond the peaceful and symbolic: unknown individuals spiked thousands of trees to make the timber dangerous to sawmills. Shadowy figures burned logging bridges and vandalized equipment. The skirmishes went on for over a decade.

Clayoquot Sound, 1993

Clayoquot Sound, 1993

We won a few battles. Several coastal valleys are protected as parks. But many of them have been logged. And now the logging companies are coming back for the valleys that remain unprotected.

One of the worst corporate offenders is Teal Jones, the company currently bulldozing the majestic Walbran Valley, two hours west of Victoria, BC. They are laying waste to a vibrant rainforest for short-term profit, without the consent of the Pacheedaht First Nation, the Qwa-ba-diwa people, or anyone else outside of government and industry. Teal Jones does not even own the land; it was taken from indigenous people in the name of the BC government sixty years ago.

Pacheedaht territory

Pacheedaht territory, Vancouver Island BC

This year, the elected leadership of the Pacheedaht First Nation threw its support behind building a longhouse in the contested valley, on the land that has sustained them for countless generations. At the same time, locals are pushing back against the logging by occupying roads and logging sites. This in spite of the company’s court order telling police to arrest anyone who blocks their work. Forest defenders are regrouping, but the destruction continues.

Women for the Walbran and Forest Action Network are ramping up to break the deadlock. We’re hosting direct action trainings to share skills and develop strategies for defending ecosystems. The agenda includes tactics like non-violent civil disobedience, occupying tree-tops, and backcountry stealth. We’ll have info on legal rights, indigenous solidarity, and more.

Tree-sit occupation, Langford BC. (Photo: Ingmar Lee)

Our adversary, Teal Jones, is a relatively small company. Its owners are relying on the police to protect their “right” to strip public forests on Pacheedaht traditional territory. Profit margins are slim, and lawyers are expensive. The forest defenders are poor, but we have community support and a wide array of strategies for beating Teal Jones at its own game. Every tool in the box: we can launch a mass civil disobedience campaign, carry out hit-and-run raids on costly machines, coordinate a knockout legal strategy, or deliver the tried-and-true “death by a thousand cuts” with a combination of tactics.

However it plays out, Teal Jones is on borrowed time in the Walbran. But that’s cold comfort when the machines are mowing down thousand-year-old forests like grass.

Photo: Walbran Central

The forest defenders do have certain advantages. On the practical side, we’re investing in the gear and training that will provide the leverage to win. We have a legal defense fund that’s both a war chest for litigation and a safety net for those who risk their freedom on the front lines. But our best defense is the thousands of people who love this land like life itself. Many live nearby and visit every chance they get, others came once and fell in love, and untold numbers have yet to see the Walbran’s wildlife firsthand, but they hold it in their hearts.

Photo: Stasher BC

Those who love the land are a community. We are the organizers, sponsors, and volunteers who drive this movement forward. Everyone who shares these values can be a part of it; no contribution is too small. We’re going all-out to defend the forests, rivers, bears, cougars, otters, and eagles of the Walbran Valley. They sustain us and we give back by fighting to protect them.

Walbran River, the heart of the Walbran Valley, spring 2016. (Photo: Walbran Central)

Remember: Forest Defenders Are Heroes! 

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Filed under Animals, Derrick Jensen, Environment, Legal Battles, Love Letters, Politics

The Courage to Speak Truth to Power

The more we challenge the status quo, the more those with power attack us. Fortunately, social change is not a popularity contest.

Activism is a path to healing from trauma. It’s taking back our power to protect ourselves and our future.

From a spoken-word presentation in Victoria BC, 2009

Thank you for the opportunity to launch my speaking career. Some of you may know me as a writer and an advocate for social and environmental justice. Others may know me as a cat-sitter, odd-jobber, and temp slave. (Laughter)

I knew when I started out as an activist that I would never be a millionaire and I was right. But I have a certain freedom and flexibility that your average millionaire might envy.

The market demand for social justice advocates is huge right now. It’s a growth industry. And the job security is fantastic – there is no shortage of urgent issues demanding our attention. Experience is not necessary, people come to activism at every age and stage in their lives. It’s that easy!

OK, it’s not actually that easy. (Laughter) But it is a fascinating time to be a “radical.”

There is a great tradition of courage and action here on Vancouver Island. There is potential for even greater future action, so we are doing everything we can to nurture that potential. Building community, linking up networks, teaching, learning, coming together, healing – this is all part of the movement.

For most of my adult life, I suffered from social phobia. I was afraid of authority, filled with self-doubt, paralyzed by anxiety. Getting interviewed live on national TV doesn’t make that go away. But hiding under the covers doesn’t cure it either. So my insecurities and I just have to get out there and do our best.

What compels me is the knowledge that we’re rewriting the script – the one that says, “You don’t make a difference. It is what it is, you can’t fight city hall, the big guys always win.” We can remember that we are not powerless. And when we choose to stand up, it is a huge adrenaline rush – bigger than national TV or swinging from a tree top. That’s the reward – that flood of excitement that comes from taking back our power and using it effectively, for the collective good.

It helps to get love letters from friends and strangers who want to thank me for standing up for what’s important, and who get inspired to take action themselves.

But it’s not all warm fuzzies and celebratory toasts. We face backlash and punishment and threats to our lives and safety.

I led a workshop for new activists this year, and I asked them, “Who are your heroes?”

They named a dozen. Gandhi. Martin Luther King. Tommy Douglas. Rosa Parks. These folks led amazing, heroic movements, but our discussion focused on the ferocious backlash they faced. British media reports on Gandhi when he was challenging the monarchy had the same tone as white Southerners responding to Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus. It was vicious. “Uppity and no-good” were some of the polite terms. They were targeted with hate speech and death threats. We hear the same now about whistleblowers. And feminists and environmentalists. It can be terrifying.

The more we challenge the status quo, the more the entrenched powers attack us. The more effective we are, the more they attack us. As Gandhi said: “First the ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

The fight for justice and liberation won’t be won by popularity contests.

Every “hero” finds her own way of dealing with the counter-attacks. Some laugh it off. Some pray, some cry on their friends shoulders. Some go on the counter-offensive, some compose songs, some write long academic papers deconstructing their opponents’ logic. The important thing is, they deal with it, and they don’t give up.

We take care of each other as a community. Because we are all so fragile. Because there is so much trauma and despair everywhere and it affects everyone. But inside that despair, in all of us, there is a solid core of love for the earth and the knowledge that we can act in self-defense. That’s where we find strength.

It’s humbling to note that the economic downturn has done more to preserve habitat and stop climate change than all of our conservation efforts of the past years combined. We take responsibility for recycling and turning down the thermostat, but who is responsible for the scale of destruction from the Tar Sands? That project is the equivalent of burning all of Vancouver Island to the ground. It negates everything we could hope to do as individuals to fight climate change.

How do we deal with that horrible reality? I couldn’t, for the first year of the campaign. I didn’t want to look at the pictures and hear the news stories about the water and air pollution and the rates of illness among the Lubicon Cree people. The scale and the horror of it were too great.

I’ve worked on toxics campaigns and I dread them. Old-growth campaigns are inspiring, because where the action is, the forest is still standing – it’s beautiful and magical and we’re defending nature’s cathedral from the bulldozers and chainsaws. The good earth is here, and the evil destructive forces are over there. It’s clearcut, so to speak. But when a toxics campaign is underway, the damage has been done. The landscape is poisoned and people have cancer and spontaneous abortions, and the birds, the fish, the animals, are dead and dying. It is a scene of despair.

If it sounds traumatizing, it is. And we are all traumatized.

Look at this landscape – concrete, pavement, bricks and mortar, toxic chemicals, but underneath, the earth is still there. We have whole ecosystems slashed and burned without so much as a by-your-leave. We’ve lost whole communities of spruce, marmots, murrelets, arbutus, sea otters, and geoducks. These are terrible losses.

And we humans suffer on every level. Is there anyone here who doesn’t know someone who’s had cancer? Who hasn’t seen the damage caused by diseases of civilization? Who here hasn’t been forced to do without for lack of money? Are there any women here who have never been sexually harassed or raped or assaulted?

(Silence)

Something fundamental has been taken from us here. How do we deal with these losses?

I consider myself fortunate because after a lifetime of abuse from my family and male partners, I participated in six months of Trauma Recovery and Empowerment at the Battered Women’s Support Centre in Vancouver.

And I got to know the stages of trauma recovery:
Acknowledge the loss, understand the loss, grieve the loss.

And the stages of grief:
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

These steps are a natural and necessary response to the loss of a loved one, and also to the loss of our humanity and the places we love.

There are people living in national sacrifice zones, people who burn with determination to make change. They are angry, and they have a right to be. I am angry because I’m not dead inside, in spite of all they’ve done to me. Anger is part of the process of grief, and it’s useful. It grabs us by the heart when people are hurting the ones we love.

For me, part of the process is taking action – rejecting helplessness and taking back power. Stopping the bleeding and comforting the wounded.

I fall in love with places and I want to protect them. I fell in love with the Elaho Valley and some of the world’s biggest Douglas Firs in 1997. That forest campaign was a pitched battle, far from the urban centers, against one of the biggest logging companies on the coast at that time.

In the third year of the campaign, I walked into my favourite campsite shaded by majestic cedars. I saw the flagging tape and the clearcut boundaries laid out, and I realized it was all doomed. I could see the end result in my mind’s eye: stumps and slash piles as far as the eye could see, muddy wrecked creeks, a smoldering ruin.

I realized no one was going to come and save this place – not Greenpeace or the Sierra Club, no MP’s private member’s bill, or whatever petition or rally was being planned back in the city. It was as good as gone. All we had to do was stand aside and do nothing, and this incredible, irreplaceable forest would be just a sad memory.

But after that realization, and after the despair that followed, I had a profound sense of liberation. If it is all doomed, then anything we do to resist is positive, right? Anything that stops the logging, even for a minute, or slows it down, or costs the company money, or exposes it to public embarrassment and hurts its market share, is positive – it keeps the future alive for that one more minute, one more hour, one more day. It was a revelation.

Acceptance, for me, meant being able to act to defend the place I loved. It meant standing up to the bullies and refusing to let them take anything more from me.

In the third year of the Elaho campaign, it was just a handful of people rebuilding the blockades, defying the court orders and continuing the resistance. We didn’t quit when the police came, or when we were called “terrorists” and “enemies of BC.” We didn’t quit even after 100 loggers came and burned our camp to the ground and put three people in the hospital.

The attack was a horror show. People were in shock. But a crew was back with a new camp five days later. By then, the raid was national news. And our enemies had nothing left to throw at us. The loggers didn’t know what to do next. Short of killing us, what more could they do?

We had called their bluff.

We didn’t know about the negotiations going on behind the scenes. We didn’t realize that we had already cost the loggers more than they could hope to recoup by logging the entire rest of the valley. (They were operating on very slim profit margins.) We found out when the announcement came that the logging would stop. And it never started again. We won. Now the Elaho Valley is protected by the Squamish Nation — and by provincial legislation — as a Wild Spirit Place.

The violence of the mob showed the level of fear and desperation of the losing side. It was their weapon of last resort and it didn’t work. And they lost.

In the fourth year of the stand for SPAET – the campaign to stop the development and protect the caves, the garry oaks, and the wetlands on Skirt Mountain. We faced the same tactics – we were called “terrorists,” and in 2007, the developers sent 100 goons to rough up people at a small rally. And again, most of our comrades are still in shock. There’s only handful of us still bashing away at the next phase of development.

We are winning. The other side has thrown everything they have at us and they have nothing left.

There are still sacred sites on SPAET. The cave is still there, buried under concrete.

Meanwhile, the developer’s little empire fell apart, either because of our boycott campaign, bad karma, or because it was operating on the slimmest of shady margins. We took the next phase of development to court. Our campaign, and the economic downturn, turned out to be enough to scare off investors and cancel the project, at least for now.

This work is difficult, painful, and traumatic. So the first step to courage is to acknowledge that pain and loss. We need to name what has been taken from us. Then we can cry, and rage, and grieve. We can name the ones who are doing the damage. We can reach down inside and find our core strength and our truth, and use it. That’s where courage comes from.

Martin Luther King said, “Justice shall roll down like waters, righteousness like a mighty stream.” But I’m impatient. I want to see that mighty stream now – what’s the hold-up? What’s holding us back, when there’s so much to do?

We’re not heroes, actually – none of us is smart enough, or tough enough, or connected enough, to take this on alone. We’re don’t have superpowers. We are only human, we struggle and suffer and sometimes, we win.

Some folks assume I have some vision, some over-arching game plan, some magic power that gives me an edge. Nope. Most of the time I am just flailing around on the political landscape, taking potshots when I see an opening. Sometimes it’s intuition, and it pays off. When we are right, it is amazing. When we win, it sets a precedent for the future.

In order for evil to prevail, all that’s required is for good people to do nothing. Don’t be one of those good people.

Activism is part of the healing. It’s taking back our power to protect ourselves and our future.

Thank you for the opportunity to tell these stories today.

(Applause)

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Filed under Environment, Feminism, Hate Mail, Legal Battles, Love Letters, Misogyny, Politics, Zoe Blunt

Battleground BC

Protect the land and each other when push comes to shove

In every part of the province, industry is laying waste to huge areas of wilderness – unceded indigenous land – for mining, fracking, oil, and hydroelectric projects. This frenzy of extraction is funneling down to the port cities of the Pacific and west to China.

BC's gas projects

BC’s gas projects. Click for a full-size image. Courtesy of Watershed Sentinel.

In 2014, Prime Minister Harper stripped away all legal recourse for environmental defense by signing a new resource trade agreement with China that trumps Canadian and local laws and indigenous rights. Not even a new government has the power to change this agreement for 31 years.

For mainstream environmental groups (and my lawyers, who were in the middle of a Supreme Court challenge to the trade agreement when Harper pre-empted them), it is a total rout. We are used to losing, but not like this.

The only light on the horizon is the rise of direct resistance. BC’s long history of large-scale grassroots action (and effective covert sabotage) is the foundation of this radical resurgence.

But the question hangs over us like smoke from an approaching wildfire. How to stop it? The courts are hogtied. The law has no power. The people have no agency. This government simply brushes them aside and carries on. We get it. We’ve had our faces rubbed in it.

no%20access%20skull%20sign.png

This is activist failure. The phase of the movement when most of the public is already on side, when we have filed all the lawsuits, taken to the streets in every city, overflowed every public hearing, and uttered every legal threat we can muster – and the end result is they are bulldozing this province from the tarsands straight to the coast.

This is the moment when we can expect activists, especially mainstream enviros, to become demoralized and quit. Or start on a campaign of self-delusion: Green groups are casting about for a strategy that will allow their donors to maintain false hope in a democratic solution. Election campaigns, for example. Some are still trying to raise money for legal challenges that were overruled by the treaty with China.

unistoten%20rise%20for%20tomorrow%20.jpg

But small cadres are preparing the second phase of the resistance. Indigenous groups are reclaiming territory and blocking development at remote river crossings, on strategic access roads, and in crucial mountain passes. Urban cells are locking down to gates, vandalizing corporate offices, and organizing street takeovers.

It’s a good start. But now we have to look at how to be effective against powerful adversaries with the full weight of the law and the police on their side. How will we protect the land and each other, when push comes to shove?

The new rules don’t change our strategy to bring down the enemy: kick them in the bottom line. The resource sector will wind tighter as competition to feed China intensifies. Or conversely, we expect the industry will become even more desperate as demand and prices fall. Profits are slim enough to start with – made up in volume – and investors are jittery already.

Either way, it’s a fight to the death.

We urge our allies to heed the lessons of history. We don’t win by giving in or turning on each other. Tenacity, focus, flexibility, and diversity of tactics will turn back the invaders.

Celebrate the warriors. Raise that banner now, and we’ll find out soon enough who’s with us, and who’s looking to appease our new dictators.

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Filed under Environment, Legal Battles, Politics, Zoe Blunt

BC’s Summer of Sabotage

Sabotage in BC. (c) 2014 Georgia Straight Thirty years ago, Paul Watson and a handful of tree-huggers spiked hundreds of trees on Grouse Mountain, just north of Vancouver.

Twenty years ago, Watson and others spiked 20,000 trees in Clayoquot Sound. Arsonists destroyed two logging-road bridges.

Fourteen years ago near Whistler, unknown “elves” wrecked machinery and spiked hundreds of trees in an active logging area along the Elaho River.

This is the story of the Elaho Valley, summer 2000 – the summer of sabotage.

Six months after this broadcast, the logging company that was trying to clearcut the Elaho Valley gave up and left. Now this cathedral forest is protected as a Wild Spirit Place by the Squamish First Nation.

More about the Elaho Valley campaign.

CREDITS: Zoe Blunt (spoken word) Die Anarchistische Abendunterhaltung (music). Produced by Green Monkey Radio and Coop Radio, CFRO 102.7 FM, Vancouver BC, August 15 2000.

Sims Creek, Elaho Valley

Sims Creek, Elaho Valley: Preserved forever as a Wild Spirit Place. Photo: Western Canada Wilderness Committee.

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Filed under Environment, Politics, Zoe Blunt

Len Barrie guilty in tax charges

Len Barrie Guilty. Image (c) 2009 Bruce Dean VICTORIA BC — Disgraced Bear Mountain developer Len Barrie has pleaded guilty to tax charges in a BC court as he continues his karmic slide into oblivion.

Just five years ago, Len Barrie was golden – “living the dream,” as one newspaper reported. That dream has turned to dust, along with the millions he owes to everyone from day labourers to the government of Canada.

Len Barrie was once known for his mediocre NHL career, but his real fame comes from the antics that won him the title “Vancouver Island’s most racist developer.”

The McMansion that Barrie built in his brief heyday sold last week for a $10 million loss. The resort he boasted would be worth $3.5 billion was repossessed by the bank for a $300 million debt and now is up for sale. Word is it may go for as little as $50 million.

In laying the foundation for his resort fiefdom, Barrie chose confrontation over diplomacy. He drew the anger of local First Nations by destroying indigenous heritage sites and ignoring provincial guidelines on heritage preservation. Under his direction, builders bulldozed and blasted caves, cairns and gravesites that were used and tended by indigenous groups for hundreds of generations. He dispatched goon squads to assault and intimidate protestors, and filed a million-dollar lawsuit against indigenous activists who sought to protect the mountain they call SPAET.

Barrie was never charged with destroying indigenous heritage sites.

The first sign of the impending collapse at Bear Mountain came when nearby residents noticed work had halted at the interchange intended to link the resort to the TransCanada Highway. Soon after, we learned that Bear Mountain, which was responsible for the majority of the cost of the interchange, had defaulted on its payment to the city of Langford. It is not clear whether the resort ever made good on its debt. In any event, four years and millions of dollars later, the “Bridge to Nowhere” is a roundabout, and only a rutted overgrown track leads up the mountain to the resort.

In 2010, as his ill-fated empire crumbled, it emerged that Barrie had fleeced a raft of investors, including $13 million from fellow hockey players. Over a hundred smaller creditors were also bilked, including contractors, windows installers, concrete suppliers, plumbers, and general labourers.

It is small consolation that Barrie is in the same boat. His family trust was wiped out and all his properties are in foreclosure. At last report, he was living in Youbou near Cowichan Lake, in a modest house that was foreclosed but not yet seized by creditors.

In addition to the tax charges, the RCMP is investigating allegations of fraud relating to auditor reports that Barrie improperly diverted $16 to $20 million from the resort to purchase the Tampa Bay Lightning. The hockey team was sold a year and a half later for an estimated $80 million loss.

Court documents filed in 2011 allege that during this time, Barrie gambled and lost almost $2 million at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The casino filed suit when Barrie’s credit payment was refused by his bank.

Eight years after embarking on his development career, Barrie has lost everything. His reputation is irrevocably tainted by greed, arrogance, defaulted payments and broken promises.

Developers and hockey pros across Canada, take note: Don’t be that guy.

Update: In March 2014, the Boardwalk Regency hotel and casino in Atlantic City, NJ filed its own claim against Barrie. More details to come.

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Filed under Environment, Politics, Racism

70,000 march in Vancouver for indigenous reconciliation

Reconciliation Walk, September 22 2013, Vancouver BC.

Reconciliation Walk, September 22 2013, Vancouver BC.

Photo via @BenSimons28

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When is it OK for social justice groups to exclude people?

It’s a recurring debate. Should progressive groups be allowed to block people for ideological or other reasons? Aren’t we supposed to be inclusive and open to everyone? The old-boys club, ivory tower, gatekeeper mentality is what we’re fighting, right?

This question is often phrased as a demand by those insisting on inclusion.

Take the angry racist dudes who were asked to leave an Occupy camp in a public square. They were furious at being called out and retaliated with accusations that organizers were violating their rights and discriminating against them as white males. Are their complaints legit?

Or how about Len Barrie, developer of Bear Mountain resort and destroyer of SPAET’s caves? Long before he became the most-hated developer on Vancouver Island, he was kicked out of the Royal Colwood Golf Club for bad behaviour. Barrie’s subsequent lawsuit claimed as long as he pays his dues, he should have the benefits of the club. The club violated his rights, he said, and he demanded reinstatement and damages. Was he right?

The thing is, when ideological adversaries insist on joining an advocacy group, the resulting conflicts can tear it apart. The anti-Occupy dudes harassed women, picked fights about “white rights,” and verbally abused those who disagreed with them. They escalated the situation to the point that general assemblies turned into shouting matches. But the other campers got together and threw the angry dudes out. Once that was done, the campers were able to put the conflict behind them and move on with their shared goals.

We don’t just have the right, we have the responsibility to bar people who would disrupt and derail our work. The concept is a long-standing principle of natural justice, one that is upheld by the courts and by federal law.

Advocacy groups like social justice organizations are based on shared values of mutual aid and solidarity. Every day we make principled decisions about what events and groups to support or oppose. The same goes for political parties. The New Democrats are not obligated to accept Young Conservatives. Peace groups don’t have to allow military recruiters in the door. If it were otherwise, no one would get anything done – they would just be crashing each others’ parties.

Similarly, private clubs and informal networks are based on mutual respect and camaraderie, as well as shared goals and ideals.

Mind you, those who feel they’re being discriminated against have legal recourse, like filing a human-rights complaint. And here’s what they’ll learn: they don’t have the right to be part of a non-profit group they clash with. If the purpose of the group is to advocate for indigenous rights, for example, the members are obliged to put indigenous people first, even to the extent of excluding others.

The Canadian Human Rights Act is a federal statute enacted by Parliament in 1977. Section 41 states:

If a charitable, philanthropic, educational, fraternal, religious or social organization or corporation that is not operated for profit has as a primary purpose the promotion of the interests and welfare of an identifiable group or class of persons characterized by a physical or mental disability or by a common race, religion, age, sex, marital status, political belief, colour, ancestry or place of origin, that organization or corporation must not be considered to be contravening this Code because it is granting a preference to members of the identifiable group or class of persons.

In the case of private or for-profit clubs, like Barrie’s, the law is equally clear. In his decision on Barrie v. Royal Colwood Golf Club (2001 BCSC 1181), Justice Edwards ruled:

[Quoting Lee v. Showmens Guild] “In the case of social clubs, the rules usually empower the committee to expel a member who, in their opinion, has been guilty of conduct detrimental to the club, and this is a matter of opinion and nothing else. The courts have no wish to sit on appeal from their decisions on such a matter any more than from the decisions of a family conference. They have nothing to do with social rights or social duties.”

In short, the courts are reluctant to reinstate a member of a social club when other members have decided that member has acted in a manner unbecoming a member, for the obvious reason that a club must be collegial.

In social clubs, goodwill among the members is important and the opportunity for cordial relations among members is a primary reason for these clubs’ existence.

Barrie lost his case because he lost the respect of his fellow club members. He behaved like a jerk, destroyed property, and lied about it. The judge noted that even if he ordered the club to take Barrie back, they would throw him out again, and rightly so.

Of course, a group that exercises its right to make such decisions may be subject to harsh criticism. Whites-only groups – and there are many – are correctly labeled “white supremacist” for excluding people of colour. The angry dudes were less accurate in calling Occupiers “fascist” and “racist” when the campers refused to accommodate their white-supremacist agenda.

There’s an obvious difference between those two examples. White supremacists want to keep oppressed groups down. Occupy supports oppressed groups rising up. One seeks social justice, the other a return to greater structural inequality.

The bottom line: Organizations that are united for a common goal, for camaraderie, or for the interests of a particular group, can’t be compelled to admit those who don’t fit their purpose. So if people don’t like you or don’t share your principles, you have no legal right to force them to accept you into their non-profit group or private club. You don’t have the right to crash their party. This concept applies across the board to everyone – all-black sororities, the Communist Party, men’s support groups, and radical feminist organizations. And it always has.

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Filed under Feminism, Politics, Racism, Wingnuts

Neo-Nazis hate me

ARA logoAnd the feeling is mutual!

This week, a neo-Nazi group, United Front Canada, is publicly calling for new members to start chapters in Victoria BC, as well as Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Toronto.

And I’m here to get in the way. So Anti White Watch, a white supremacist blog, labels me “leader of the anti white gang Anti Racist Action,” “dyke,” “tranny” and more hilarious insults. In other words, these are the literally some of the worst people in the world.

The good news is the author advertises our Anti Racist Action group.
Anti white watch hates meNice photo! (I won’t be returning the favour and linking to their page though, because racist blogs have cyber-cooties.)

This is the first time in Victoria I’ve run across actual neo-Nazis, as opposed to run-of-the-mill white supremacists and racists. United Front’s platform is based on Hitler’s Third Reich, right down to the swastika-style cross. It’s a modern-day throwback to the National Socialist Party of 1930s Germany. So it’s a neo-Nazi fringe group. (I’m using the word “group” loosely. It’s a safe bet these two websites are run by one miserable white dude in a suburban basement.)

White supremacy is a broader and more pervasive philosophy. The Wiki says:

White supremacy is the belief of, and/or promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds and that therefore whites should politically dominate non-whites. The term is also used to describe a political ideology that perpetuates and maintains the social, political, historical and/or industrial dominance of whites.[1] Different forms of white supremacy have different conceptions of who is considered white, and different white supremacist identify various groups as their primary enemy.[2]

The term white supremacy is used in academic studies of racial power to denote a system of structural racism which privileges white people over others, regardless of the presence or absence of racial hatred. Legal scholar Frances Lee Ansley explains this definition as follows:

By “white supremacy” I do not mean to allude only to the self-conscious racism of white supremacist hate groups. I refer instead to a political, economic and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily reenacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings.[8][9]

The term expresses historic continuities between a pre-Civil Rights era of open white supremacism and the current racial power structure of the United States. It also expresses the visceral impact of structural racism through “provocative and brutal” language that characterizes racism as “nefarious, global, systemic, and constant.”[14] Academic users of this term sometimes prefer it to racism because it allows for a disconnection between racist feelings and white racial advantage or privilege.[15][16]

Manypolitics does a brilliant job of illustrating the distinctions with real-life examples in “An Open Letter to WAC Victoria and Others Who Equate Racism with Prejudice.”

And now, please enjoy some old-school anti-Nazi moves.

Earlier encounters with angry racists in Victoria:

Nazi Punks

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