Civil Disobedience to stop Keystone pipeline

Listen

The U.S. Sierra Club announced plans for Civil Disobedience for the first time in its history over of the Keystone XL pipeline. Today the board of the Sierra Club of Canada decides whether it will follow suit on the Gateway pipeline, each responding to the Oil Sands with a Line in the Sand. Today, our project on the Dilemmas that Define Us asks about the ethics and the efficacy of Civil Disobedience.



Civil Disobedience to stop the Keystone pipeline - Sierra Club Canada

For the first time in our 120 year history, we have suspended the Sierra Clubs long standing policy that prohibits civil disobedience. We have approved for one time a team of selected leaders and prominent Sierra Club supporters to face arrest in order to elevate discussion about a critical issue.

The critical issue is the Keystone XL pipeline. Alison Chin, the board president of the U.S. Sierra Club is opposed to the proposed pipeline and the bitumen it would bring to the U-S from Alberta's oil sands. This change in tactics represents a striking shift for the Sierra Club. We're looking at it today as part of our Line in the Sand project on the difficult ethical choices people and organizations make.

The Sierra Club is one of the oldest and most influential environmental organizations in the United States. Its board is mum on exactly what kind of 'civil disobedience' it plans, but the Sierra Club will participate in an anti-Keystone rally in Washington next month.

The Board of the Canadian chapter of the Sierra Club meets later today to discuss whether it will follow suit and endorse 'civil disobedience' to fight the proposed Keystone and Northern Gateway Pipelines.

John Bennett is the Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. He was in our Ottawa studio.

Civil Disobedience to stop the Keystone pipeline - World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund is another, well-established environmental group that's never supported civil disobedience. And it seems it has no plans to change.

Darcy Dobel is World Wildlife Fund Canada's Vice President for Conservation and Pacific. She was in Vancouver.

Civil Disobedience to stop the Keystone pipeline - Historian

Civil disobedience has an effective track record in causing political change. From Gandhi's Salt march to King's Selma march. From Clayoquot to Cairo.

Sir Adam Roberts is the President of the British Academy and the co-author with Timothy Garton Ash of Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non Violent Action from Ghandi to the Present. He was in London England. 

* Story Update *

After our Thursday program looking at the pros and cons of Sierra Club Canada using civil obedience to protest oilsands pipelines ... its board met to consider the issue. We've learned that the board did NOT endorse use of civil disobedience at its meeting.  Sierra Club Canada Executive Director John Bennett told us Friday morning that the board instead opted to continue the discussion and consultation process before deciding to put the use of civil disobedience to a vote.

This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott.

We'd love to hear what you think about this. Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Follow us on Facebook. Or e-mail us through our website. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And you can always write to us at PO Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6.


Other segments from today's show:

Protecting culture in times of war

Checking-In: Listener Response

Comments are closed.