Carol Linnitt Fairy Creek

A Conservative election campaign proposal is raising alarm bells

Erin O’Toole’s party is bringing back talk of protecting ‘critical’ infrastructure for the 2021 federal election. The pledge is sparking concerns about the right to freely protest
BECOME A MEMBER
The Narwhal's masthead logo
AUG. 19, 2021

A Conservative proposal is raising alarm bells

Erin O’Toole’s party is bringing back talk of protecting ‘critical’ infrastructure. The election pledge is sparking concerns about the right to freely protest

Protesters and police at the Fairy Creek blockades
Between the droughts and the wildfires and the heat dome and just the general sense that the world is melting right now, there seems to be an all-around heightened tenor to conversations about climate change.

Add in the devastating warning issued last week from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and suddenly all those sit-ins and demonstrations and marches don’t feel like a fringe reflection of eco-extremists, but instead what people who care about the future of the planet might want to do in their spare time.

Just as the need to address climate change is growing more urgent, though, the very act of protest in Canada could become a lot more risky. In fact, a plan to prevent the very kind of protest we’ve seen around energy infrastructure and Indigenous land rights is part and parcel of the election platform of the Conservative Party of Canada.

“Peaceful protest is a fundamental right in Canada, but respect for the rule of law means that illegal blockades that shut down critical infrastructure, threaten access to vital supplies, or endanger lives cannot be tolerated,” reads the proposal, which cites the 2020 rail protests tied to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project.

It would have been easy to miss the mention of the “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act” in the 160-page Conservative platform, but thankfully it didn’t escape the attention of reporter Fatima Syed, who dug into all the details for this story in The Narwhal.

The Conservatives declined to share any further details on the legislation, promising to offer more information at some point in this election campaign.

But those who did comment expressed concern about what it could mean for Indigenous land defenders and others seeking to advocate for robust responses to the climate crisis. Some also noted that it appears to be political posturing at a time when we need it least.

“The proposal really seems to be focused on trying to divide, when what we really need to be doing is putting in place laws and policies that inspire us and empower people to come together and confront the climate crisis,” said Tony Mass, director of legislative affairs at Ecojustice.

(Interestingly, Alberta enacted legislation targeting those who protest along “critical” infrastructure like pipelines and rail lines last year in a law that is now facing a constitutional challenge.) 

So how exactly should our leaders be tackling the climate crisis? And what issues would you like to see The Narwhal zoom in on during this federal campaign? Drop us a line to let us know. We’ve got plenty of more election coverage in the, ahem, pipes.

Take care and stay aware,

Arik Ligeti
Audience engagement editor
Arik Ligeti headshot

P.S. You’ll see that we’ve got a fancy new design for our newsletter — we hope you approve! It’s our attempt at bringing the beautiful look and feel of The Narwhal’s website to your email inbox each week. And we’re always open to suggestions for improvement. Thanks for being a subscriber!
 
A Narwhal supporter wearing one of our awesome T-shirts

Support independent  journalism

The Narwhal is ad-free, non-profit and supported by readers like you.

Become a Narwhal

This week in The Narwhal

Leigh Joseph, a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) ethnobotanist, harvests devil's club in the Cheakamus River watershed near Whistler, B.C.
Meet the Cheakamus, the only community forest to develop carbon offsets in B.C.
By Stephanie Wood
It may be lesser known than the poster-child Great Bear Rainforest, but the humble Cheakamus forest near Whistler is charting new territory when it comes to sustainable timber harvest that outlaws clearcuts, respects Indigenous governance and combats the climate emergency.


READ MORE
 
Bella Coola, in the territory of the Nuxalk Nation, which issued an eviction notice to Juggernaut Exploration on Monday.
Nuxalk Nation issues eviction notice to B.C. exploration company, igniting calls for mining reform
By Matt Simmons
READ MORE
Fire burns on land
How Indigenous cultural burning practices benefit biodiversity
By Sara Wickham, Andrew Trant, Emma Davis and Kira Hoffman
READ MORE

What we’re reading

Tyee article: RCMP Has Spent Almost $20 Million Policing Wet’suwet’en Territory
Globe article: Five climate myths the world can finally retire
GIF of dog licking tablet screen
When The Narwhal’s visual journalism is so stunning, it can be hard to tell it’s only 2D. Get your pals to sign up for our redesigned newsletter so they too can be transfixed by our immersive storytelling.
Subscribe to this newsletter

View this e-mail in your browser

You are on this list because you signed up to receive The Narwhal’s newsletter.  
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

*|HTML:LIST_ADDRESS_HTML|* *|END:IF|*

Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, all rights reserved.
The Narwhal has arrived in Ontario!

Guess what? We just launched an Ontario bureau. Keep up with the latest scoops by signing up for a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism.

‘We need to learn to do things faster’: Canada’s new environment minister talks climate — and compromise

Canada’s new environment and climate change minister has some first-hand experience when it comes to living in a resource town that goes through boom and...

Continue reading

Recent Posts

Help power our ad-free, non‑profit journalism