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David Suzuki has been a lot of things over the course of his 85 years: a scientist, a television personality, a grandfather and, through it all, a dedicated environmentalist. But a terrorist? That’s the label some people in Alberta, including the premier and his environment minister, are trying to stick on him in the wake of comments he made at a recent Extinction Rebellion protest in Victoria.

On Saturday, Suzuki suggested “there are going to be pipelines blowing up if our leaders don’t pay attention to what’s going on.” When asked by Postmedia to elaborate on that comment, Suzuki made it clear he wasn’t sanctioning or supporting the idea of people attacking pipelines — merely explaining where the heads of some environmental activists are these days.

That’s relevant in light of what’s unfolding in northern B.C., where the RCMP has arrested journalists as well as protesters at the site of a natural gas pipeline that would feed LNG Canada’s terminal in Kitimat. “The violence is coming from the authorities, from government, from the RCMP,” Suzuki said. “They’re declaring war against those that are protesting.”

But no matter: the UCP government pounced at the opportunity to make a mountain out of this molehill. In the Alberta legislature, Environment Minister Jason Nixon said Suzuki “is so out of touch with the real world that he advocates for eco-terrorism towards the Canadian people and industries.” For his part, Jason Kenney tweeted that “this incitement to violence by David Suzuki is dangerous, and should be condemned universally. In Canada, we resolve our differences peacefully and democratically, not with threats of terrorism or acts of violence.”

Oddly, that doesn’t seem to apply to one of Kenney’s biggest supporters.

W. Brett Wilson, a former “dragon” on CBC’s Dragons’ Den and current climate change skeptic who got a shoutout from the premier at last weekend’s UCP convention in Calgary, has repeatedly threatened environmental activists with hanging for “treason.” He tweeted that Ecojustice, a Canadian environmental law charity with an office in Alberta, should “watch your back.” And when given an opportunity to clarify whether his comments about hangings and treason were just a bad joke, Wilson doubled down. “I didn’t joke,” he tweeted. “I was serious about hanging foreign-funded protesters — undermining our nation — for treason.”

So far, neither Kenney nor his environment minister has publicly criticized Wilson for his comments, much less tabled a resolution in the legislature calling for him to be condemned as they have for Suzuki. Funny, that.

There’s both the obvious hypocrisy here and a bit of irony, given Suzuki and Wilson have an awful lot in common. Both can be self-aggrandizing and arrogant blowhards who at times seem more interested in hearing their own voices than using them for good. Both have large followings and a devoted core of supporters, and both have the ability to make news simply by opening their mouths. Both are self-declared enemies of the kind of pragmatic solutions and common-sense compromises that might actually help us reach our climate targets without blowing the country apart.

And while Wilson remains a member of the petro-conservative inner circle in Alberta, Suzuki is its original bête noire. Before there was Greta Thunberg or Tzeporah Berman (who has been on the receiving end of numerous Alberta-based threats), there was Suzuki, and the apparent contradiction between his personal wealth and more ascetic prescriptions for everyone else that has triggered some Albertans for years. When the University of Alberta awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2018, it provoked a wave of recrimination from donors, students and faculty alike, all of it egged on by conservative pundits and provocateurs.

Opinion: If anyone can take the pulse of the North American environmental movement and give governments advance warning about a potential turn towards extremist activity and violence, it’s probably David Suzuki, writes columnist @maxfawcett.

But here’s the thing: as the National Post’s Tyler Dawson wrote, an attack on energy infrastructure in Alberta “wouldn’t be unprecedented.” It wasn’t that long ago that Wiebo Ludwig, a far-right religious zealot, was convicted for bombing gas wells in northwestern Alberta. “If the oil companies run roughshod over your lives, you have to take defensive action against them, whatever is necessary,” Ludwig said in 1997 after two wells near his home were blown up. “You can’t just let them kill your children.” Ludwig, who died in 2012, was also interviewed by the RCMP after an Encana pipeline near Tomslake, B.C., was bombed six times in 2008-09.

There’s also a growing conversation right now in the more radical reaches of the American environmental movement about the morality of attacking oil and gas infrastructure. Andreas Malm, a Swedish author and activist, published a book this year called How to Blow Up a Pipeline: Learning to Fight in a World on Fire that has gotten more than its share of mainstream media pickup. In an interview with the New Yorker Radio Hour, Malm told host David Remnick: “I am recommending that the movement continues with mass action and civil disobedience, but also opens up for property destruction.”

If anyone can take the pulse of the North American environmental movement and give governments advance warning about a potential turn towards extremist activity and violence, it’s probably Suzuki. It doesn’t make sense to ignore these sorts of ideas any more than it makes sense to ignore the threats being made against environmentalists by people with large Twitter followings. But so long as the Kenney government treats one like a capital crime and ignores or even encourages the other, it’s hard to take anything it says here seriously.

And if it continues to raise the temperature on this already heated conversation in the name of its own dwindling political prospects, it risks having it blow up on the rest of us.

Keep reading

WTH is wrong with people who support the UCP?

This villainy just increased my support, vocal and financial, for Suzuki's organization.

It's an "interesting" thing, isn't it? Fossil fuel burning is literally, actually killing 10 million real and actual people every year, but the UCP and Co. insist that Suzuki and other environmentalists are "bad guys" for merely saying uncomfortable things. I can't figure out if this is stupidity bordering on insanity (talk about a lack of critical thinking skills!), sinfulness gone to the extreme (perhaps these people have long ago sold their souls?), or complicity in the greatest crime ever perpetrated against humanity and the rest of Nature.

The UCP insist that . . . but so does Fawcett, if you look at the article a bit more closely.

Pinhole visionaries...UCP ...single minded thinking "addiction to defending fossil fuel" at all cost to our planet they are blinded by corruption and are owned by oil corporations.

Just more BS from the UCP, taken seriously by no one worth bothering with, but in retrospect I remember viewing the original public slagging of Suzuki as utterly inexplicable and one of the first alarming signs of the conservatives here "going south" actually, because it didn't make any sense. Nor did labelling him a "radical" and hectoring him into leaving his exemplary foundation. But Max Fawcett lumping him in with the utterly noxious Brett Wilson, village idiot, is almost as surprising. What the hell Max? You of all people succumbing to one of the earliest and nastiest conservative narratives? Just because Suzuki gets angry, swears and raises his voice and is generally passionate? There's that "low-drama regardless of circumstances" norm kicking in again as THE issue, the premium, even when the sky is well and truly falling. Just another shading, another cynical tool of denialism. Whoever ISN'T equally passionate about the quality of our air and water, of the wellspring of our very lives is the only real outlier here.
Suzuki is old, a brilliant, hard-working and exceedingly accomplished scientist who has in fact elevated science itself by spending his entire adult life trying to do what can now more than ever be seen as absolutely vital and precious. If, after all these decades of being essentially ignored while watching the cavalier and now sure to be catastrophic trampling of the natural world he has completely lost patience with the powers that be who in hell can blame him?! He's far from alone. Like Greenpeace, he's been right all along. If he's attained wealth from all this, so what?
If someone like him can be so easily thrown under the bus by ANYONE really, especially in the context in which we currently find ourselves, then we are in even more trouble than first thought.

That Brett guy I guess doesn't have to check his facts: after all, he's obscenely rich.
Perhaps someone could provide him with the definition of treason in Canadian law, and explain to him that Canada no longer has capital punishment.
Not to mention that the maximum punishment for real treason is a life sentence (generally construed to be 25 years) and subject to the provisions for parole.
Meanwhile, he appears to have uttered a threat of physical violence ... and not only that, to be inciting violence. Those are also criminal offences.
Where are the RCMP when there's something to do that actually upholds law.

I agree... this Wilson fellow is, to my mind one of those arrogant fools you sometimes run into.

Since when were "Scientist", "TV Personality" and "Grandfather" items that could be grouped in a set? (other than the set of all things)
Suzuki was not an environmentalist when he was a scientist - he was a geneticist. And he wasn't a wild eyed radical back then either, he was a crew cut, short sleeved shirt, elitist science nerd.
Max got this right:
"... self-aggrandizing and arrogant blowhards who at times seem more interested in hearing their own voices than using them for good. Both have large followings and a devoted core of supporters, and both have the ability to make news simply by opening their mouths. Both are self-declared enemies of the kind of pragmatic solutions and common-sense compromises that might actually help us reach our climate targets without blowing the country apart."

By "pragmatic solutions and common-sense compromises", Fawcett means the kind of "say bad things about climate change but subsidize oil and gas and build pipelines" approach we've seen from the Liberals and, sigh, some provincial NDP governments. You know, the approaches that have blown us past all our targets and made us the worst in the G-20 on climate by nearly all measurements. Those "pragmatic solutions and common-sense compromises". If you want anything actually useful done, you're an "enemy" of pragmatism and common sense.

So you don't like his style, preferring the classically petty and begrudging "tall poppy" syndrome instead, nit-picking about the authenticity of his "environmentalist" credential, although actually HAVING that makes him a "wild-eyed radical" anyway in narrow, right-wing parlance. As if you could really be wild-eyed ENOUGH under the circumstances.
And obviously the country may well be "blown apart" anyway, regardless of the spectacularly self-important, supposedly "measured" approach from all the "real" conservative men out there, weighing in like their "brand" wasn't totally trashed at this point, with them barely holding onto basic "human" status. But still blindly eschewing ANY and all alarmism on principle, as I already said, because it's somehow "effeminate" while steadfastly avoiding the undeniable reality that no one blows stuff apart like "nature." Look around.
Suzuki gets that, and has a solid platform

So you don't like his style, preferring the classically petty and begrudging "tall poppy" syndrome instead, nit-picking about the authenticity of his "environmentalist" credential, although actually HAVING that makes him a "wild-eyed radical" anyway in narrow, right-wing parlance. As if you could really be wild-eyed ENOUGH under the circumstances.
And obviously the country may well be "blown apart" anyway, regardless of the spectacularly self-important, supposedly "measured" approach from all the "real" conservative men out there, weighing in like their "brand" wasn't totally trashed at this point, with them barely holding onto basic "human" status. But still blindly eschewing ANY and all alarmism on principle, as I already said, because it's somehow "effeminate" while steadfastly avoiding the undeniable reality that no one blows stuff apart like "nature." Look around.
Suzuki gets that, and has a solid platform

From the article:
"Both are self-declared enemies of the kind of pragmatic solutions and common-sense compromises that might actually help us reach our climate targets without blowing the country apart."
So, is Max Fawcett actually on a Liberal party payroll, or what? It really seems like his pro-Liberal stance has been, over many columns, so very specific and pronounced that I feel like I want to know if there are any disclaimers that should go on his byline to acknowledge any formal relationships that might exist there.

Being a long retired no-body, with access to the internet and having paid for my retirement keep, I spend some time surveying our species goingson. Conflicted we are! Time wise, the wellbeing of the present living today and the next while is the prime focus of the "powers that be, political, and corporate". Curious some are, leading to investigation and science and masses of stories available through our massive information systems. What does my puny sampling reveal to me? Here it is in a nut shell, so to speak. We inhabit a finite world with a biosphere that makes life possible. We are a part of that biosphere, unique in our ability to exploit and manage it in large measure, but not likely to increase its carrying capacity for life, but we are demonstrating how to reduce it's carrying capacity, 'big time'. Many, such as David Suzuki know what track our advanced societies are on, one of major exploitation of our finite resource base for the living. This track may soon end in collapse. However, technically another track is still available if we have a collective global will to make the switch. COP26 was the most recent attempt to find that switch. Our enlightened Youth as well as Elders are naturally alarmed we may have left that switching too late to preserve enough of the Biosphere for even a few of future generations enough living space to prevent actual extinction of Sapiens (us). Nature is the Master, we are not able to change it , only attempt to live by it's dictates.
QED
Charles

Max Fawcett is in no doubt referring to blue (or even grey) hydrogen, carbon capture and sequestration deep underground under high pressure, and actively promoting a 100 million tonne cap on oil sands emissions in exchange for a meaninglessly low, final act carbon tax when making these assertions about "pragmatic solutions."

It's all greenwash ... which a pretty tame alternative term for plain old bullshit.

All of these so-called pragmatic measures are industry's response to keeping the oil and gas flowing, and all -- especially CCS -- will require hundreds of billions in subsidies, either new ones or a continuation of the old, and premature acceptance of unproven technology.

Max, we have hit 1.2 degrees this year and we're on an express train toward 2.4 under current policies, including those specious agreements made in a hurry at COP26, a conference which you attended along with a small army of other National Observer journos (on subscriber's dime), collectively injecting somewhere between 35 and 70 metric tonnes of CO2 and other noxious gases directly into the stratosphere. Climate fighting aviators flown in to a climate conference located in a COVID hotspot for what? ... to warm seats and to take notes. Wow. Just wow.

If you care to respond (I doubt it), then please tell me why I shouldn't cancel my subscription. Believe me, you and others on this site have put me on the verge of that with your blatant hypocrisy.

Yes, 1.2 degrees just six years after the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5. There is no way society will ever attain 1.5. We will be lucky to even slow slightly at 2.0, or stop at 2.7. Hitting 3.0 will be fatal.

So, tell us again about fossil fuel pragmatism, Max, especially to those of us who are living with 600 deaths, heat domes, massive flooding, a sudden loss of a huge chunk of BC's food producing capacity and tremendous infrastructure damage (likely Canada's most expensive natural disaster) all in the course of just six months in southern BC. This at just 1.2 degrees. Tell us how we need to spend $12B on TMX for the "revenue" with no Asian contracts and put our magnificent ocean at great risk on top of everything else. Please detail all your pragmatic solutions, but know that some of your income will disappear as subscribers like me tell you and your employer / contract partner / jet setting travel companions to go f*ck yourselves.

I for one concluded years ago that our focus needs to be on adaptation in equal measure to mitigation of emissions. Adaptation excludes all fossil fuels, including those from Alberta, my old home province, a place I now know doesn't give two loonies about the rest of the nation. BC has electricity in abundance and a dreamscape in renewable energy capability. It has many advantages of geography, chief among them access to ports and easy land access to US markets. We could go it alone if we have to and conduct a crash program to electrify everything as part of the rebuilding effort, with big improvements to urbanism, architecture and engineering design for added resiliency.

What does adaptation mean? That's an excellent question. Too bad you and the National Observer can't seem to think clearly on what it actually means.

Related to the above is Max Fawcett's insults directed to David Suzuki. Has Fawcett ever met him, interviewed him, attended one of his talks? Years and years of watching the exemplary series 'The Nature of Things' on the CBC indicates that Fawcett is completely off base with his comment that Suzuki is a "blowhard." In fact, he communicates ideas and delivers them by habit in a calm, rational and evidence-based manner.

If Suzuki can get a little steamed about disastrous official policy and inflammatory ideologically motivated assertions made by leaders like Jason Kenney, then what the hell do you call Fawcett's insults?

Hate the nastiness, but Suzuki deserves heavy criticism.

Perhaps the amount of violent talk (and posted photoshopped anime videos) had made him, unbelievably, think that these "tools" are available to anybody but the Right?

American Blacks should be brought in to explain to him that their Second Amendment does not apply to them, and that tolerance for even the smallest hint that violence might at some point occur from the Left, does not exist.

This isn't some act of mean, unfair Facebook or CBC or any corporation: people themselves, the general public, will tolerate amazing levels of thinly-veiled threats from the Right, but absolutely nothing from the Left. I'm still astonished he was dumb enough to say that.

Suzuki has now apologized.

"“The remarks I made were poorly chosen and I should not have said them,” it said. “Any suggestion that violence is inevitable is wrong and will not lead us to a desperately needed solution to the climate crisis. My words were spoken out of extreme frustration and I apologize.”

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-david-suzuki-apologizes-f...

That's good enough for me.

My goodness David Suzuki a "terrorist"? That is a low blow for the prophet foretelling the dangers we are about when we refuse to respect the land, air, water and even space. We have done huge harm it all by not listening to David's decades of pleas and facts and science. That we must change our ways.
If telling the truth is terrorist we must be living elsewhere, not in Canada. Bravo David Suzuki for sticking to your call to see what we were doing, and still are.
Name calling is rather childish, but demonizing, is unjust and so very wrong. Businesses could have diversified their portfolio and have not. The results are in and it will continue to be mega storms that kill forests, wildlife and human lives. The call again is vital and immediate: act now. We CAN do this.