Yes­ter­day, I was ar­rest­ed and charged with Civ­il Con­tempt for fail­ing to re­spect an in­junc­tion for­bid­ding protesters from com­ing with­in 5 me­ters of the prop­er­ty where Kin­der Mor­gan is try­ing to bring a pipeline for tar-sands bi­tu­men to the Paci­fic. Here­with a few words on why this kind of ac­tion might work and how to go about do­ing it. Wel­l, and I guess I should tack on a note about why the pipeline is a stupid idea and should be stopped, but I sus­pect most read­ers here are al­ready on-board with that.

But be­fore any of that, my strongest thanks to our gra­cious host­s, the good peo­ple of the Coast Sal­ish, whose un­ced­ed ter­ri­to­ry we were on. They were friend­ly, in­spi­ra­tional, sup­port­ive, elo­quen­t, and po­lit­i­cal­ly savvy. If we win this, it’ll be their vic­to­ry as much as anyone’s.

No Courage Here · A lot of the social-media buzz is ful­some about the “Courage” of the protester­s. Gimme a break; if this was a “brush with the law”, it was a soft-bristled make-up brush. Now bear in mind that I am speak­ing from a po­si­tion of max­i­mum priv­i­lege as a grey-bearded clean-cut well-off white guy. But the le­gal and fi­nan­cial con­se­quences seem like­ly to be triv­ial, and there seems to be an awe­some sup­port or­ga­ni­za­tion in place for those a lit­tle less priv­i­leged than me.

Tim at Protect the Inlet

Thanks to the pho­tog, who wish­es to re­main un­cred­it­ed.

Se­ri­ous­ly, the praise is em­bar­rass­ing. I took pub­lic tran­sit to with­in five minutes’ walk of the gath­er­ing place, marched for about fif­teen min­utes to the front gates, sat in the sun for a few hours singing songs, and was even­tu­al­ly cour­te­ous­ly es­cort­ed away by af­fa­ble po­lice of­fi­cers to a nice pro­cess­ing area un­der the trees where, in or­der to get re­leased that day, we had to sign a doc­u­ment promis­ing not to do it again. The on­ly mild­ly scary bit was when the cop made a lit­tle speech claim­ing that get­ting ar­rest­ed could dam­age your abil­i­ty to trav­el, get a job, vol­un­teer, and so on. Which in this par­tic­u­lar sce­nario is al­most cer­tain­ly not true.

Then we walked back down the hill and took the train home. What could have gone wrong, but didn’t, in de­creas­ing or­der of like­li­hood:

  1. It could have been a hor­ri­ble freez­ing rainy sort of Pa­cif­ic North­west March day.

  2. There could have been cops with at­ti­tude prob­lems who worked hard at mak­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence un­pleas­an­t.

  3. There could have been peo­ple do­ing Black-bloc shit with the aim of mak­ing re­al vi­o­lence hap­pen.

  4. Some Kin­der Mor­gan jerk might have de­cid­ed to wade in and make trou­ble.

Why it might work · The project has been of­fi­cial­ly ap­proved by the Govern­ment of Canada. Kin­der Mor­gan has raised hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars from in­vestors to fi­nance it. Depend­ing on how you slice your sam­pling, some­where around 50% of Cana­di­ans (or Bri­tish Columbian­s) sup­port the pro­jec­t. How can a few peo­ple get­ting ar­rest­ed in Burn­a­by slow down this jug­ger­naut?

Charge sheet

Wel­l, there are pol­i­tics and there are eco­nomic­s. First, the Feds’ ap­proval was un­en­thu­si­as­tic not to say ag­o­nized; it hap­pened af­ter the petro-heads moved the Over­ton Win­dow by propos­ing this oth­er batshit-crazy project called North­ern Gate­way and cre­at­ed a sit­u­a­tion where it seemed like if you shut that down, you had to give some­thing back, and that’s what Kin­der Mor­gan is. But I’m pret­ty sure the lo­cal Lib­er­al MPs around here are toss­ing and turn­ing sweati­ly in their beds at night. And if you sur­veyed Lib­er­al vot­er­s, I bet you’d find a huge anti-Kinder-Morgan ma­jor­i­ty. Thus, I ex­pect that the Feds are pre­pared to ex­pend ex­act­ly ze­ro se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal to back­stop this pro­jec­t.

More pol­i­tic­s: The gov­ern­ment of BC, which the pipeline tra­vers­es and where the tar-sands tar will leak when it leak­s, is dead-set against the pro­jec­t. So is the gov­ern­ment of Burn­aby, where the pipeline ter­mi­nates and ac­ci­dents are most like­ly, as in to­tal­ly go­ing to hap­pen. So is the gov­ern­ment of Van­cou­ver, which de­pends ex­is­ten­tial­ly on its har­bor, where the tanker spill will hap­pen when the tanker spill in­evitably hap­pen­s. And maybe most im­por­tan­t, so are a large num­ber of First-nations or­ga­ni­za­tion­s, who are lit­i­gat­ing fu­ri­ous­ly at mul­ti­ple points along the route.

Which is to say, you’re not just one of a few rag-tag en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists up against the whole world. You have a lot of al­lies.

The im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber is: De­ci­sions that mat­ter come down to pol­i­tics and eco­nomic­s. If you want to stop this stupid pipeline, the thing to do is to make it po­lit­i­cal­ly painful for its back­ers and eco­nom­i­cal­ly painful for its in­vestors. Then go back and do it again and again and again.

De­lay is the planet’s friend. The eco­nomics of tar-sands oil get lousi­er ev­ery month oil re­mains in glob­al sur­plus, and ev­ery month that the dis­as­trous ef­fects of glob­al warm­ing be­come more ev­i­den­t, and ev­ery month re­new­able and bat­tery tech­nolo­gies get a lit­tle bet­ter and cheap­er. Which is to say, we don’t re­al­ly need to stop this pipeline, we just need to slow it down and make its aw­ful­ness vis­i­ble, then go back and do it again and again, and even­tu­al­ly the oth­er side will, uh, run out of gas.

There are a lot of ways this could hap­pen, but I’d like to high­light one of them. Sup­pose a few thou­sand peo­ple de­cid­ed to do what I did, each re­quir­ing po­lice in­ter­ven­tion to write up all those Civ­il Con­tempt charges. Then sup­pose the Ci­ty of Burn­a­by de­cid­ed their tax­pay­ers just couldn’t af­ford it and slammed the brakes on po­lice over­time. Yes­ter­day they had like 30 of­fi­cers there, and it took them hours to ar­rest us and write us up. Sup­pose there were 300 protesters and five cop­s? Writer’s cramp alone might be enough to bring it to a grind­ing halt.

You think I’m jok­ing? I’m not.

Prac­ti­cal ad­vice · If you want to get in­volved, the first thing to do is to go vis­it Pro­tect the In­let and hit the Sign me Up link.

The peo­ple who are or­ga­niz­ing this, first of al­l, are not rec­om­mend­ing that you go out and vi­o­late in­junc­tion­s. But since there are a lot of peo­ple like me who are so mad at the pro­cess that they are just gonna go take bold ac­tion any­how, they’re pro­vid­ing train­ing, ad­vice, and le­gal sup­port. The train­ing is ex­cel­lent and super-practical. If you’re try­ing to block ac­cess to some­thing, is it bet­ter to stand up or sit down? If you’re be­ing ar­rest­ed, what should you say, and be care­ful not to say? If some­one on your side is be­ing crazy and es­ca­lat­ing things, what can you do? And so on. So if you’re go­ing to do this, please take the train­ing.

Now, how do you get there? One good way is to drive (it’s at Burn­a­by 200 soc­cer field); there’s plen­ty of park­ing up there. You might get trolls sneer­ing at you for driv­ing to protest an oil pipeline, but screw ’em; ob­vi­ous­ly we’re head­ing for an electric-car fu­ture but we’re not there yet, and one of the key points is that even today’s oil-dependent world doesn’t ac­tu­al­ly need the tar-sands pro­duc­t.

But pub­lic tran­sit is a good op­tion too; that’s how I went yes­ter­day. Take the Sky­train to Pro­duc­tion Way, then go stand at the #3 bus stop and take the 136 line to a stop named “WB For­est Grove Dr NS Merid­i­an Pl”. It on­ly runs ev­ery half-hour, but no protest has ev­er start­ed on time.

More ad­vice:

  • Take some­thing to sit on. I had a fold­ing pad that I use for un­com­fort­able seats at ball games, and it may have saved my life. If, like me, you are a not-terribly-flexible per­son with a skin­ny bony but­t, an ex­tend­ed sit-in can be se­ri­ous­ly un­com­fort­able. But not with the right pad.

  • Dress with care. I had mul­ti­ple lay­ers and was glad of it; the morn­ing was chilly, and then it got bak­ing hot up against the south-facing Kin­der Mor­gan gate un­der the di­rect sun. Al­so, I wore my Saskatchewan Rough Riders base­ball cap, to in­ject a lit­tle Prairie cul­ture and hey, it was St. Paddy’s, for the wear­ing o’ the green. And most­ly to keep the sun from my eye­s.

  • Should you take your phone? In the train­ing course, they warned us that po­lice have been known to con­fis­cate phones, make sin­cere ef­forts to crack in­to them, and find ex­cus­es to not re­turn them. So I didn’t take mine, which I end­ed up re­gret­ting  —  because I couldn’t take pic­tures and tweet away. And the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer didn’t show the slight­est in­ter­est in what I was car­ry­ing. Hav­ing said that, it was the first time in many years that I’ve been on a multi-hour out­ing with­out my mo­bile. I wouldn’t make a habit of it, but it did add an edge and some fla­vor to the day.

Why · There’s an ex­cel­lent chance we’re head­ing for glob­al climate-change catas­tro­phe. If it isn’t ob­vi­ous why dig­ging up high­ly carbon-loaded fu­el and mak­ing it cheap­er and eas­i­er to get it in­to the en­er­gy econ­o­my is an egre­gious­ly stupid idea, I’m not sure that there’s much I can say that will help you.

But there are three oth­er spe­cif­ic ar­gu­ments in this case. First, this project is be­ing rammed through against the wish­es of a high pro­por­tion of the Na­tive peo­ples whose land this is; their economies and spir­i­tu­al­i­ties de­pend on the earth, and not the ver­sion that’s soaked in this nasty black tox­ic shit. Se­cond, the place where it’s com­ing from, the Tar Sands project in North­ern Al­ber­ta, is ut­ter­ly ap­palling, wreak­ing hav­oc on the land­scape and the wa­ter and the peo­ple. Third, a cou­ple of dozen tanker-loads of bi­tu­men a month run­ning through Van­cou­ver har­bour, which has strong tidal cur­rents, three bridges cross­ing it, and a cou­ple of mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing around it, is re­al­ly not very smart. The Globe and Mail has a fab­u­lous mul­ti­me­dia ar­ti­cle on the sub­jec­t.

Please · If you’re in Van­cou­ver, and care about this stuff, you can make a dif­fer­ence and it isn’t dif­fi­cult or dan­ger­ous. Please con­sid­er com­ing along.

You don’t have to get ar­rest­ed. Help is need­ed with cheer­lead­ing, sup­port­ing, and fi­nan­cial do­na­tion­s. But putting your­self on the line be­tween Kin­der Mor­gan and the plan­et you live on, it’s a thing that leaves you feel­ing good.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: NADENE eileen MORTON (Mar 18 2018, at 17:11)

your contribution is vital. so many of us on the islands who cannot afford the ferry are relying on you on the mainland...stand strong. i consider each and every one of you brave. t doesn't matter your income, ethnicity or age group. bravo. we will stop this.


From: Sharon Smith (Mar 18 2018, at 17:52)

Thankyou for standing up and thankyou for your perfectly crafted rationale. I have been supporting the protests and I will be on the line myself when I return to Canada


From: Deanna (Mar 18 2018, at 17:56)

Appreciated your words and actions.


From: Tony Fisk (Mar 18 2018, at 18:11)

Good luck with the campaign.

You think that obstructing the work will increase administrative overhead to the point where it ceases to be profitable. Hope that strategy works with Kinder Morgan, but don't assume your corporate opponent will be logical in the way you think. Maybe they will fold, if they aren't already too heavily committed.

By way of contrast, protestors at Adani's coal port at Abbott's Point, Queensland, were recently fined $8000 *each* for locking themselves to the gate.

Adani was fined a total of $12000 for allowing a massive coal ash spill to contaminate nearby wetlands. They've done nothing to clean it up, and they are appealing.


From: John Cowan (Mar 18 2018, at 18:11)

You know, if one person, just one person, does it, they may think he's really dangerous and they won't flame him.

And if two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both Perl hackers and they won't flame either of


And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people loggin' in, singin' a bar of ``Alice's Usenet Flame'' and loggin' out? They may think it's an re-implementation of sendmail!

And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day, loggin' in, singin' a bar of ``Alice's Usenet Flame'' and loggin' out? Friends, they may think it's a MOVEMENT, and that's what it is: THE INTERNET GLOBAL ANTI-LOSSAGE MOVEMENT! And all you gotta do to join is to sing it the next time it comes around on the /var/spool/news/in.coming directory.



From: Trish (Mar 18 2018, at 18:14)

Just wondering why Canada doesnt make the oil conpanies do this:

The bitumen in solid form pucks, injected with an air pocket, float. In the event of an accident they can be scooped out of the water with a net. They could be shipped in almost obsolete open coal carts. To form the pucks equals jobs. To ship would revitalize the railway and create more jobs there. With unending automation what are companies giving back for our resources. I would thinks jobs would be part of that. So why not a refinery to make solid form bitumen pucks to ship. I think this option would take away the opposition. No pipeline, no pollution, no problem.

After all what could be more Canadian than solid bitumen ‘pucks’.


From: Charlene (Mar 18 2018, at 20:51)

Trish, there would still be opposition, as the planet is warming and this needs to be stopped. Bitumen pucks are still fossil fuels, requiring fracking which completely destroys the environment and uses an incredible amount of fresh water which it poisons, and wherever it is shipped it will be burned, heating up the planet.

The reasons to oppose it are many.


From: cheryl baron (Mar 18 2018, at 21:03)

Thanks for making it less scary Tim. I'm another person who has never been arrested and just barely had speeding tickets. I've signed up to help on the 24th.


From: Sally-Ann Mowat (Mar 18 2018, at 21:13)

Just an FYI - from someone who heartily supports your viewpoint & action & your writing on same, AND who also happens to work in copyright: Rogue Collective could nit gave been easier to "turn up". I googled "Rogue Collective" & Rogue Photo Collective was among the first hits. Cheers!


From: Raymond Lutz (Mar 19 2018, at 06:51)

Merci M. Bray pour ce compte-rendu!

Vous auriez dû résister un peu pour vous faire menotter: la photo aurait été plus dramatique, comme celles des arrestations de James Hansen... 8-)

Sur une note plus sérieuse, j'indique que suite à votre billet, j'ai donné 100$ à 'Protect the Inlet'.

J'avais contribué à 'Coule Pas Chez Nous' [1] et 'Solidarité Restigouche' [2] et je me demande encore comment les activistes de l'est du Canada pourraient montrer leur solidarité avec ceux de l'ouest. Il y avait une forte mobilisation contre Énergie Est, il faudrait qu'elle se conserve pour s'orienter vers Kinder Morgan... et aille au-delà du syndrome Not In My Backyard...




From: Jim Dunkley (Mar 19 2018, at 10:09)

Tim, here is a previous comment of yours on Kinder Morgan:

Interestingly, there’s been a Plan-B proposal recently from a huge company I never heard of called Kinder Morgan, which operates a big pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver. They want to triple its capacity and make my neighborhood the tar-sands depot. Local politicians, both municipal and provincial, are horrified.

Doesn’t seem that crazy to me. The waterways are wider, the weather’s better, the pipeline’s already routed, and we have the big-ship infrastructure. Also, the chance that the depot’s neighbors will be seen as expendable yokels by the steak-fed big-city big-oil executives is lower in Vancouver than Kitimat.

Hey, I still think the whole tar-sands initiative smells lousy; environmentally, politically, and literally. But however it comes out, let’s please not roll the supertanker dice on our north coast.

From April 2012.

I'm not suggesting that you are not allowed to evolve in your thinking, but you should be open about it.


From: Philip Kuefler (Mar 19 2018, at 13:22)

The KM pipe has been there since 1953 and has had no spills? The land from which the oil is extracted (Fort Mac) is cleaned and restored. Several oil companies are already in the Kitsilano harbor delivering jet fuel, oil and diesel along the coastline.

Oil from Planetary vegetation is pollution? The Aboriginal Population in Northern Alberta have know for thousands of years the oil was contaminating the Athabasca River.Your arguments are not rational, your confirmation bias is hypocrisy.


From: Fatidjah Nestman (Mar 19 2018, at 17:13)

I was arrested today at km. I thought I was prepared, but by the end of the day, one of the last to be arrested, I was shaking so badly, the police offered me handwarmers. It' a long day, layers, layers and more layers. We had to stand for hours on an incline and the muscles tire and cramp, especially if you are older. I recommend this action. 03/19/18


From: g (Mar 20 2018, at 10:28)

Jim, I think there's less inconsistency (or even evolution) here than you're implying.

Here's the 2012 post: He says, among other things, that "the whole tar-sands initiative smells lousy; environmentally, politically, and literally". When he makes conciliatory noises about the Vancouver pipeline in that post, it seems clear to me he isn't saying anything stronger than "if we really must do the tar-sands thing, then this pipeline is a better option than Northern Gateway".

Now Northern Gateway is dead and the question is no longer "Northern Gateway or Vancouver pipeline?", it's "Vancouver pipeline or not?". Thinking, as he does and already did in 2012, that "the whole tar-sands initiative smells lousy; environmentally, politically, and literally", his answer to that question is "not".

I do think this post would have been improved by a reference back to the 2012 one and some comments on what, if anything, looks different now from then. But I don't think it's fair to suggest, as you clearly are doing, that Tim's being disingenuous now.


From: David Mivasair (Mar 20 2018, at 11:50)

Please, please do not waste your arrest on a symbolic, performative event -- actually get in the way and STOP KM. Many of us have been doing that nearly every day since January. We have caused millions of dollars of loss to KM. THAT is why they filed for the injunction. Anyone who sashays up to the gate, poses for a photo, and gets arrested without stopping a truck or workers van for an hour or two has wasted their power to do that. This struggle is not about seeing how many people get arrested. That makes as much sense as an army seeing how many of its soldiers can get shot. We need to directly, physically intervene in KM's destruction -- and we can. We have. We will. Please join us in doing that. It makes sense to focus on having an impact, not on getting arrested. If you want to join actions with impact, write to or see the Justin Trudeau Brigade FB page. Thank you, Tim, for provide this space for discussion.


From: Jeny Jeeris (Mar 20 2018, at 17:22)

Thank you ,Thank you Tim Bray for this insightful blog .It was so inspirational and I am grateful to you and all the others who are so passionately focussed in protecting a part of Gaia where we as Canadians live. I have donated some money but would have wanted dearly to be present physically like you and the rest who have been wrongfully arrested for protecting the land from 'the foreign entity'.

Is there a meditation group that you know where those who are unable to be physically present can come together and send focussed energy to stop Kinder Morgan?

Jeny Jeeris


From: Kevin Purton (Mar 22 2018, at 02:10)

A history of spills from the Trans Mountain pipeline.

This pipeline is a bad idea. It represents an expansion of the petro-chemical industry when the latest science based information says we should be reducing it.


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