This week, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews released Canada's first comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy. The strategy not only discusses the threat of radical Islamism, but also "low-level violence by domestic issued-based groups". Sierra Club Canada and its cheerleaders in the NDP are angry that the government dared to talk about the threat of issued-based terrorism. Why? According to Sierra Club Director John Bennett, the inclusion of such threats is only an attempt to "marginalize the environmental movement". NDP MP Megan Leslie described the report as one part of the government's efforts to "demonize" environmental advocacy.
Politely, that view must be disregarded. The government has every right to shed light on the skeletons in radical environmentalism's closet. The Sierra Club and the opposition parties cannot wish away the sins of the past and present. The government's anti-terrorism efforts must include an honest appraisal of modern terror threats, and the evidence of both history and the present is clear: environmental terrorism is a source of low-level domestic violence that must be stopped.
We've seen this threat already in Canada. In 2009, Encana Corporation suffered a series of pipelines bombings that cost the company millions. Residents of the Tomslake area of British Columbia were subjected to months of tension as police searched for the radical environmentalist who committed the six bombings. While thankfully no one was injured in these attacks, the bomber was clearly willing to risk the lives of others: the final explosive went off a scant 500 metres from a group of workers. To this day, the bomber has never been found.
The Encana bombings are only a recent example. Recall the violent actions of the Earth Liberation Front. In 1998, they burned down a Colorado ski lodge. In 2001, they used arson to destroy a series of homes on Long Island to protest man's "encroachment" on nature. In March of that same year, they firebombed a research facility at the University of Washington. In 2006, a Sacramento judge convicted Eric McDavid of conspiracy to damage or destroy property. A green anarchist, McDavid was preparing to firebomb cellphone towers, electric power stations, and research facilities before police got wind of the plot and captured him.
These radicals are thankfully not representative of the larger environmental movement. The overwhelming majority of such activists avoid the use of violence to achieve their ends, though many are quite willing to skirt the law in other ways. That said, it is shameful for the leadership of an organization like the Sierra Club to be accusing the government of "marginalizing" voices in its attempts to protect Canadians from domestic terrorism.
Terrorism is terrorism, whether it is aimed at the destruction of property or the destruction of human life. While there is no moral equivalence between loss of life and loss of property, the two share the same tactical premise: to terrorize one's opponents through force and fear into accepting the demands of a radical minority. Such tactics are not only despicable and illegal, they stand in contravention to the great Canadian promise of "peace, order, and good government."
The Sierra Club and the NDP had an opportunity to disavow the law-breakers. Instead, they relapsed into tired anti-Harper rhetoric. Their conspiracy theories do not do justice to the genuine threat of domestic issued-based terrorism. Did they even read the strategy? Environmental terrorism is hardly the only problem. In the words of the report, "such extremism tends to be based on grievances real or perceived revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism."
It seems that Big Green has a public relations problem. Utterly blinded to extremism within its own movement, it instead attempts to project blame outwards. Canadians, I think, can see past the charade. The anti-terrorism strategy is not about demonizing or marginalizing environmentalists. It is about confronting the reality of domestic terrorism and its myriad political inspirations. Sadly, those inspirations include environmental causes.
This is not about the Harper Government's relationship with environmentalists. It is about keeping Canadians and Canadian property safe. It is too bad some environmentalists are unwilling to see that.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of The Prince Arthur Herald.
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