Elizabeth May talks the talk and walks the walk. Over the weekend, she was arrested in Burnaby. Michael Harris writes:
The Green Party leader was protesting Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion when she and Kennedy Stewart, the NDP MP for Burnaby South, were arrested at the gate of one of the company’s work sites Friday. So far, 100 protesters have been charged along with them, including the co-founder of Greenpeace.
The charge that the two politicians face is civil contempt for blockading a road. It’s not a criminal charge and the politicians are free to continue their protest of the pipeline project.
May's arrest brought howls from the usual suspects:
The boo-birds who have attacked May for her “illegal” protest, also like to paint her as zealot-in-chief of the anti-development, tree-hugging set. It is true May loves trees. She proved that 40 years ago as a 20-something protester in her epic fight against Big Pulp and Paper during Nova Scotia’s bitter spruce budworm wars.
But May is no wild eyed radical. She does not want to shut the Tar Sands down:
The Green Party leader does not argue that the tar sands should be shut down. In fact, she endorses the position taken by Unifor, the major union for tar sands workers, that Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion is a job and profit-sucker, as well as a threat to the environment.
Instead of sending diluted bitumen south, where the U.S. makes all the value-added profit, May says that solid bitumen should be processed or refined in Alberta for the Canadian market.
However, the Darwinian capitalism of this century decrees that society absorbs long term costs and companies reap short term profits. May is swimming against the stream. But, Harris writes, history shows that those who swim against the stream often change their societies for the better:
From Magna Carta to Martin Luther, from the Boston Tea Party to the French Revolution, individual rights and freedoms have advanced on the shoulders of a few souls brave enough to stand up to arbitrary measures that reduced their fellows to serfdom. And yes, they sometimes broke the law to do it. Elizabeth May, Canada’s Joan of Arc of the environment, is in that tradition.
May is the kind of politician who is not only rare. She is also an endangered species.