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With all eyes focused on Ukraine, the situation in Venezuela has once again escalated as protest leader Leopoldo Lopez’ arrest (and possible 10 year jail sentence) prompted more violence overnight. However, as we warned, the government crackdown is starting to raise concerns about the stability of the government.
- *VENEZUELA PROTESTS ESCALATING INTO NATIONWIDE UNREST: IHS
- *ESCALATION OF PROTESTS PUTS STABILITY OF GOVT AT RISK: IHS
- *RISING VIOLENCE COULD LEAD TO MADURO OUSTER BY MILITARY: IHS
As opposition leader Capriles asks Venezuela’s military to uphold the constitution, he exclaims that “the poor’ must participate for government to change.
- *VENEZUELA HATILLO MAYOR DAVID SMOLANSKY SPEAKS IN CARACAS
- *VENEZUELA PEOPLE WON’T STAY QUIET: SMOLANSKY
- *SMOLANSKY SAYS VENEZUELA SUFFERED TERROR LAST NIGHT
- *SMOLANSKY CALLS FOR MASSIVE VENEZUELA PROTESTS SATURDAY
The opposition leader speaks:
- *VENEZUELA OFFICIALS SHOT AT PROTESTERS YDAY: CAPRILES
- *VENEZUELA ARMED FORCES SHOULD ALLOW PEACEFUL MARCHES: SMOLANSKY
- *VENEZUELA STRENGTHENING TIES WITH CUBA, RAMIREZ SAYS
- *VENEZUELA GOVT USING VIOLENCE TO HIDE ECO PROBLEMS: CAPRILES
- *CAPRILES SAYS SOME IN VENEZUELA GOVT WANT MADURO OUT
- *CAPRILES ASKS VENEZUELA ARMED FORCES TO UPHOLD CONSTITUTION
- *VENEZUELA POOR MUST PARTICIPATE FOR GOVT TO CHANGE: CAPRILES
- *CAPRILES SAYS HE WON’T BE FORCED TO TALK TO VENEZUELA GOVT
And IHS warns:
- *VENEZUELA PROTESTS ESCALATING INTO NATIONWIDE UNREST: IHS
- *ESCALATION OF PROTESTS PUTS STABILITY OF GOVT AT RISK: IHS
- *RISING VIOLENCE COULD LEAD TO MADURO OUSTER BY MILITARY: IHS
Images from last night suggest this is getting considerably worse…despite Maduro’s claims of “absolute calm”
and of course the terrible death of a former Miss Venezuela…
At least 50 are dead, according to Reuters, and hundreds injured as fresh fighting broke out in central Kiev this morning breaking the apparent truce that was in place last night. Who is to blame is up for discussion but of little import in the end as the death toll mounts and live ammunition is being used by the police. A Ukrainian presidential statement said dozens of police were killed or woundedduring the opposition offensive hours after Yanukovich and opposition leaders had agreed on a truce… Other witnesses said they saw government snipers firing into the civilian crowds during the clashes.
The Protesters reportedly captured police…
Activists who recaptured the square, known as Maidan or “Euro-Maidan” to the opposition, appeared to lead away several uniformed officers. Dozens of wounded protesters were being given makeshift first aid treatment in the lobby of the Ukraine Hotel, where many foreign correspondents are staying.
Reporters said there were bullet holes in the walls and windows of the hotel overlooking the square. Both sides have accused the other of using live ammunition.
“Black smoke, denotations and gunfire around presidential palace … Officials panicky,” tweeted Polish minister Radoslaw Sikorski to explain the delay in the meeting at Yanukovich’s office, a few hundred meters from the square.
But the protesters had a different view…
Protesters were in a truculent mood despite the overnight lull and columns of men, bearing clubs and chanting patriotic songs headed to Independence Square at 8:30 a.m. (0130 ET).
“What truce? There is no truce! It is simply war ahead of us! They are provoking us. They throw grenades at us. Burn our homes. We have been here for three months and during that time nothing burned,” said 23-year-old Petro Maksimchuk.
“These are not people. They are killers. Sanctions will not help. They all should be sent into isolation in Siberia.”
The question is – is this Obama’s line being crossed?
Civilians taking live fire:
Other images show a country in collapse
Just as we warned earlier, the stealing of the weapons cache and labeling of the break-away region as having undertaken “terrorist acts” has led to the military getting involved:
- *UKRAINE ARMY GIVEN POWER TO CHECK CIVILIAN VEHICLES
- *UKRAINE ARMY GIVEN POWER TO USE WEAPONS ON UKRAINIANS: MINISTRY
Under the “anti-terrorist” operation, Ukraine is a close to civil war as it has been so far. As Martin Armstrong concludes: “there is no peaceful resolution” no matter how many sanctions and condemnations the West makes.
Below is the Google-translated Government Statement which was posted on the Ministry of Defense website moments ago:
In connection with the decision to commence in Ukraine antiterrorist operation Ministry of Defense of Ukraine official statement:
According to Article 5 of the Law of Ukraine “On combating terrorism” Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, bodies of military management, formations and units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to protect against terrorist attacks facilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, firearms, ammunition, explosives and poisonous substances that are in the army or stored in designated areas.
Under section 15 of the Act, in the area of ??counter-terrorist operations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have the right to:
– use in accordance with the laws of Ukraine weapons and special means;
– apprehend and deliver to the internal affairs of persons who commit or committing an offense or other action;
– check of the citizens and officials of documents , identification, and in the absence of documents – to detain them for identification;
– to carry out in the area of counter-terrorism operation personal care nationals review things that are in them, vehicles and things that they carried;
– Provisionally restrict or prohibit the movement of vehicles and pedestrians on streets and roads.
Measures provided for in this Article shall comply with the applicable law and terminate immediately after the anti-terrorist operation.
Coordination of activities of entities involved in the fight against terrorism has antiterrorist center of the Security Service of Ukraine.Those involved in the fight against terrorism, are under state protection.
Disobedience or resistance to lawful demands of military officials who take part in anti-terrorist operations, incur liability as provided by law.
The main purpose of the anti-terrorist operation – stop extremism and illegal actions of radical groups that threaten the lives of millions of Ukrainian, to protect civilians, prevent civil war in Ukraine.
And as a reminder from Martin Armstrong – There Is No Peaceful Resolution
Russia wants to portray this as a coup organized by the USA, Europe wants to portray this as Ukraine wanted them, and the USA media spins this as US against RUSSIA.
This began as a movement against CORRUPTION and not a Europe v Russia confrontation. The more it has played out, then this has also developed into a fight for freedom. The Russian side of Ukraine is the East and south and they speak Russian. The West speak Ukrainian so there are even two languages spoken.
The Russian side has very strong RIGHT WING elements and they are anti-gay and want 7 years in prison for a girl who gets an abortion. So there is now a religious fever being thrown into the fire.
BY ABSOLUTELY NO MEANS did this begin merely over the refusal to join Europe. The corruption in Ukraine is massive. Much of the bureaucracy is buried still in communism with no rational explanation. Under communism, the state-owned everything. Therefore, your “papers” were a form of domestic passport not good for international travel. Inside that passport you had to have your PERMANENT address assigned to you by government since you were not allowed to move. To this day, although communism collapsed and you can move, your passport must still have your “official” address. If you want to move, it will take months to get a new passport and you have to pay a bribe to get it expedited that may still be 2 months. The law forced you to return to change any document. You cannot do anything on-line.
The bureaucracy has never been reformed. There is no law saying you need an address anymore, yet nobody can change anything because it is as if there is nobody really in charge. It is a chaotic mess. The police were extorting people like the Mafia, so this began as all other protests – against corruption. Simple as that. The mainstream media is playing to the propaganda on both sides.
It appears that civil war will erupt for the younger generation want their freedom. Russia will not allow that to happen for this is a strategic former possession that was once part of Russia and Kiev was the former capital of Russia before Moscow. This is likely to fester and grow. There is no peaceful resolution.
3 Dead In Ukraine Riots; Police “Impose Order By All Means Envisaged”; Tell All Women To Leave – Live Feed | Zero Hedge
Despite the ongoing efforts of the rest of the world to ignore what is rapidly escalating into a potential pivot point in global geopolitics, Ukraine has gone from bad to worse in the last few hours with 3 dead and hundreds injured:
- *UKRAINE RIOT POLICE AMASS ON PERIMETER OF INDEPENDENCE SQUARE
- *KIEV SUBWAY SYSTEM SHUT DOWN, INTERFAX SAYS
- *UKRAINE OPPOSITION: ALL WOMEN SHOULD LEAVE INDEPENDENCE SQUARE
- *UKRAINE RIOT POLICE DISMANTLING BARRICADES APPROACHING MAIDAN
The riot police have been told to ‘impose order by all means envisaged‘ and it appears they are rapidly moving towards that goal.
Ukrainian security forces on Tuesday set protesters a 6 p.m. 1600 gmt) deadline to end street disturbances or face “tough measures”, a statement said.
The State Security Service (SBU), in a joint statement with the interior ministry, said: “If by 6 p.m. the disturbances have not ended, we will be obliged to restore order by all means envisaged by law.
“If the disturbances continue we will be forced to resort to tough measures,” it said.
The statement followed a day of violence in the Ukrainian capital Kiev as protesters clashed violently with police near the parliament building, with unconfirmed reports of three people being killed.
Protests in Venezuela continue (despite President Maduro’s proclamation that the nation is in “absolute calm”), with both the government and the opposition holding rallies, leaving several streets and subway stations in Caracas closed. 10 students who were arrested amid violent protests last week have been released, though 6 students remain in custody. Demonstrators do not yet have the numbers or support base to unseat President Nicolas Maduro’s administration, but as Stratfor notes, these protests could mark a turning point as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quo.
What’s going in Venezuela (in a nutshell)
And as Stratfor notes, things could be changing for Maduro…
Relatively large student-led opposition protests convened in Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and many other cities throughout the country. Rough Stratfor estimates put the crowd in Caracas at between 15,000-20,000 people based on aerial photos posted on social media. Venezuela’s students are very politically active and protests are frequent. However, the relatively large turnout and widespread geographic distribution of this week’s protests indicate that the movement may be gaining traction.
The challenge that the student movement will face is in finding a way to include Venezuela’s laboring class, which for the most part still supports the government, and relies on its redistributive policies. Their inability to rouse broad support across Venezuela’s social and economic classes was in part why previous student uprisings, including significant protests in 2007, failed to generate enough momentum to trigger a significant political shift.
But the situation has changed in Venezuela, and as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quo. President Nicolas Maduro has been in office for less than a year, and in that time the inflation rate has surged to over 50 percent and food shortages are a daily problem. Though firmly in power, the Chavista government is still struggling to address massive social and economic challenges. Massive government spending, years of nationalization and an overreliance on imports for basic consumer goods have radically deteriorated inflation levels, and undermined industrial production.
How the government responds will play a key role in the development of these protests going forward. The government cannot afford to crack down too hard without risking even worse unrest in the future. For its part, the mainstream opposition must walk a careful line between supporting the sentiment behind open unrest and being seen as destabilizing the country. Maduro retains the power to punish opposition politicians, and reaffirmed that Feb. 11 when he stated on national television that he intends to renew the law allowing him to outlaw political candidates who threaten the peace of the country. The statement was a clear shot over the bow of opposition leaders, and may foreshadow a more aggressive government policy designed to limit political opposition.
Venezuela certainly does not appear the “absolute calm” the President described it as…
Having described Venezuela as “absolutely calm” today – when it was anything but; the fact that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has the stones to accuse Agence France Press of “manipulating” news coverage is stunning.
- *VENEZUELA ASKS INFO MINISTER TO TAKE ACTIONS AGAINST AFP NEWS
Furthermore, Maduro has taken a TV station off-air that competed with Telesur (the state-owned TV station). Of course, we should not worry as Maduro has explained the violence is all protesters’ fault and that he will propose his “peace plan” tomorrow.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro asked his information minister in a national address to take unspecified actions against AFP France Press. Maduro accused AFP of “manipulating” news coverage
Decision to take Colombian TV station NTN24 off the air in Venezuela was made by the government, Maduro says
“The NTN24 station tried to compete with Telesur and yesterday created confusion about the possibility of a coup. Off the air”: Maduro
“I denounce AFP for manipulating information, and I’ve asked the information minister to speak clearly with their correspondents”: Maduro (Telesur is TV network owned by Venezuelan government)
And here is Maduro presenting his perspective of the troublemakers from his Twitter account:
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) February 13, 2014
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) February 13, 2014
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) February 13, 2014
And yet he also told us that things were “absolutely calm”?
It appears it’s not enough to have a record year on your stock market? Economic hardship, socialism, starvation, and not enough toilet paper have apparently led to the bloodiest riots in Caracas in years. As AP reports, at least 2 people were killed as large anti-Maduro protests engulfed the nation’s capital.
The logo of the anti-Maduro protestors…
— I v o !? (@Ivobreque) February 12, 2014
And direct from Maduro’s Twitter account showing the world that all is well…
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) February 12, 2014
Gunfire erupted in downtown Caracas when armed members of a pro-government vigilante group arrived on motorcycles and began firing at more than 100 anti-Maduro student protesters clashing with security forces. As the crowd fled in panic, one demonstrator fell to the ground with a bullet wound in his head.
Also killed was the leader of a pro-government 23rd of January collective, as militant supporters of Venezuela’s socialist administration call themselves. National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said the “revolutionary” known by his nickname Juancho was “vilely assassinated by the fascists” but he didn’t provide details.
While anti-government demonstrators vented frustration over issues ranging from rampant crime to mounting economic hardships, they were united in their resolve to force Maduro out of office by constitutional means.
“All of these problems — shortages, inflation, insecurity, the lack of opportunities — have a single culprit: the government,” Leopoldo Lopez, a Harvard University-trained former mayor, told a crowd of about 10,000 people gathered at Plaza Venezuela in Caracas.
Images of the Deadly day…
— Selene ingrid (@belleselene) February 12, 2014
— Manuel Vidalón (@iosoimanuel) February 12, 2014
— Genesis Veronica R (@genicaRive) February 12, 2014
— Francesco Guttuso (@FraGuttuso) February 12, 2014
— YA CUBA TWITEA (@YACUBATWITEA) February 12, 2014
— Alfredo d Jesus Viso (@AlfredoViso01) February 12, 2014
— Diario El Mundo (@Diario_ElMundo) February 12, 2014
Presidential Palace In Bosnia Set On Fire As Riots Break Out Protesting 40% Unemployment | Zero Hedge
Another day, another European nation is hit by violent riots as protests over the economy and corruption spilled over violently into the street, this time Bosnia where more than 150 people were wounded on Friday in the worst civil unrest in the country since the 1992-95 war. The reason: anger over the dire state of domestic politics, the economic collapse and especially the country’s 40% unemployment rate. The Telegraph reports that angry protesters set fire to part of the presidential palace in Sarajevo, as well as government buildings in the capital Sarajevo, Tuzla and Zenica. At least 80 people were injured in Sarajevo and 10 in Zenica, authorities said. There were no immediate casualty figures from Tuzla, where the worst of the fighting was.
Bosnia is a relatively new entrant to the current iteration of mass protests, however judging by the severity of public anger, the country is doing its best to catch up with the rest of Europe. More:
Demonstrators also clashed with riot police for a third consecutive day in the protests, which have remained largely contained to the Croat-Muslim Bosniak half of Bosnia.
Anti-government protests began on Wednesday in the northern city of Tuzla, before spreading as thousands took to the streets of a dozen cities to express their discontent over the almost 40 per cent unemployment rate.
Local media said police used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters in Sarajevo, where demonstrators stormed two government buildings including a presidential office, setting them ablaze and smashing furniture. The palace fires were promptly put out but almost all the windows were broken.
By 7pm local time, protesters had dispersed in the three main flashpoint towns, but police remained out in force. All shops were closed and streets were littered with glass and debris. On Saturday morning, the streets of Sarajevo were calm after firemen spent the night dousing the flames which almost gutted one regional government building, consuming cars and newsstands nearby.
However the city was bracing itself for further protests.
In Tuzla, the crowd stormed the local government building, throwing furniture, files and papers out of the windows and then setting the building on fire.
The protests in Tuzla may be calming following the resignation of Sead ?ausevi?, the Prime Minister of Tuzla Canton – one of 10 cantons in the Croat-Muslim Bosniak half of Bosnia – but other cities are only just getting beginning. In an unprecedented move, hundreds gathered in the capital of the Bosnian Serb part of the country, Banja Luka, to express support for protesters in the country’s other mini-state, which is shared by Bosniaks and Croats.
“We gathered to support the protests in Tuzla where people are fighting for their rights,” said Aleksandar Zolja, an activist from Banja Luka. The protests began on Wednesday with a clash between police and unpaid workers of four former state-owned companies, which left some 130 hurt, mostly from tear gas.
Said otherwise, wealth transfer, crony capitalism, corruption and an economic collapse have managed to unite the same people that just two decades ago were killing each other during the Yugoslavian civil war over such typical Eastern European lines of tension as religion and ethnicity. Congratulations.
Four companies employed most of the population of Tuzla. When they were privatised, contracts obliged the new owners to invest in them and make them profitable but they sold the assets, stopped paying workers and filed for bankruptcy.
Ironically, the very same is happening in the US and the rest of the world, as the productive assets are being confiscated, the middle class is being exterminated, and an increasingly smaller number of entities control the bulk of the wealth.
Summarizing the Bosnian situation in a nutshell:
Beside the high unemployment rate, the privatisation that followed the end of communism and the 1992-95 war produced a handful of tycoons, almost wiped out the middle class and sent the working class into poverty. Corruption is widespread and high taxes to fund a bloated public sector eat away at paychecks.
Or yet another teaser of what is coming to every other insolvent, crony capitalist, corrupt country in the world.
He accurately predicted the trends that have shaped the last decade. Ahead of the collapse of 2008 his Trends Journal newsletter issued a forecast that stock markets, which had just hit all time highs, would buckle in the first quarter of the year and that an unprecedented recession would blanket the global economy. He said the decline in financial markets would then be followed by disillusionment in America’s political and economic systems, leading to the rise of a third-party and widespread protests across America. And while officials the country over tried to assuage fears in the populace, he cautioned that the middle class would continue to be destroyed through taxation, regulation and fiscal incompetence.
His foresight was 20/20.
Now, renowned trend forecaster Gerald Celente warns that, despite establishment claims of recovery and growth, things are about to get a whole lot worse.
Celente isn’t suggesting that a massive collapse is going to happen in the future.
He says we’re already in it – and it’s taking hold right before our eyes across the entirety of the globe:
This selloff in the emerging markets, with their currencies going down and their interest rates going up, it’s going to be disastrous and there are going to be riots everywhere…
…So as the decline in their economies accelerates, you are going to see the civil unrest intensify.
If you want to know a business that will thrive in 2014, it may well beguillotines because these are ‘Off with their heads’ moments.
Meanwhile, they just passed laws in Spain to stop people from protesting. But all the laws in the world do not feed starving people. All the laws in the world do not put roofs over people’s heads.
That’s why you are going to see heads roll.
…you can already see chaos engulfing the world as the Fed’s global financial scheme is collapsing. This collapse is engulfing the entire world, from Russia, to South Africa, into China and emerging markets across the globe.
Should protesters in the U.S. threaten the status quo in any way they will be dealt with like the people who took to the streets in the Ukraine, Egypt, Iran, and Greece.
In fact, a Federal court recently upheld Congressional legislation passed in 2012 that allowed the herding of protestors into so-called “free speech” zones, and to charge those who assemble at “official functions” designated as areas of “national significance” with federal crimes punishable by one year in prison.
Under that verbiage, that means a peaceful protest outside a candidate’s concession speech would be a federal offense…
Carefully controlled protests involving individuals who have been bused in by their respective political party or union leaders are often televised by the mainstream media in an effort to give Americans a false sense of freedom.
When these protests turn to uprising and riots because millions of people can no longer keep a roof over their heads or food in their bellies, you can bet that those involved will be dealt with swiftly and behind the cloak of terrorism secrecy laws like the National Defense Authorization Act which essentially gives the government the right to detain anyone, for any reason, for an indefinite amount of time.
But the real question here is, why would the government need laws like this?
Why would they be war-gaming and simulating economic collapse scenarios and civil unrest?
Why are they continuing to borrow trillions of dollars from foreign creditors and injecting the domestic economy with tens of billions of dollars on a monthly basis?
The only plausible answer, given the current economic climate in America and sentiment on Main Street, is that the authorities at the highest levels of our government know that something very bad could happen.
And they confirmed this in two letters issued by two different Treasury Secretaries over the last several years. Most recently, the Treasury department noted that failure to satiate our nation’s never ending appetite for debt would have a “catastrophic effect” on our economy:
Credit markets could freeze, the value of the dollar could plummet, US interest rates could skyrocket, the negative spillovers could reverberate around the world, and there might be a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse.
Not only might the economic consequences of default be profound, but those consequences, including high interest rates, reduced investment, higher debt payments, and slow economic growth, could last for more than a generation…
The fall-out from our current economic climate is going to be unprecedented. For those who deny this is happening, understand that the above warning comes directly from our Treasury Department. They’re the money guys. And they are telling us what’s going to happen.
And be assured it won’t just be stock markets that drop precipitously.
What we’re talking about here is the collapse of the economy of the United States of America – the richest nation on Earth.
The consequences will be devastating on every level and those of us on Main Street will be taking the brunt of the impact.
Imagine a situation where jobs continue to be shed by the hundreds of thousands every month without abatement. A situation where the price of basic essentials like energy and food rise without restraint. A situation where medical care is so expensive that average Americans will go bankrupt trying to pay for government mandated coverage. A situation where whatever money you do have in savings becomes worthless because our currency loses credibility around the world.
This is what’s happening right now.
The scary version: There is no way to turn this around. It’s just going to get progressively worse.
This is the depression.
Activists in British Columbia have responded to the National Energy Board’s approval of the Northern Gateway oil pipeline with threats of illegal activism reminiscent of the 1990s. Greenpeace spokesman Mike Hudema, for example, said his group will “do what it takes” to ensure the pipeline is never built (and he specifically mentioned civil disobedience).
Given the nature of the NEB’s process, such civil disobedience would be inappropriate, and detrimental to society. It would overturn the assumption that people are free to engage in lawful commerce if they obey the rules, without an endless process of protests, lawsuits, and smear campaigns.
Others, however, disagree. One Vancouver writer has argued that potential civil disobedience against the oil pipeline is akin to historical protests in favour of female suffrage, slavery, indentured servitude, and against clear-cutting forests.
Civil disobedience has an honourable history; the question is whether a particular group on a particular matter is justified in such actions. Such steps are, after all, violations of the law, whether property rights, trespassing, and so on.
Where people’s rights are systematically violated, where they are denied recourse to the courts, or to their elected representatives, the case for civil disobedience is clear.
But the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal does not represent such a violation, and there has already been a rather extensive process of discussion and consultation.
The consultation and regulatory process conducted by the National Energy Board spanned four years, cost some $500 million, involved 180 days of hearings, worked through 9,400 submitted letters and took oral testimony from nearly 1,200 people. That process may not have been perfect but even perfection would not have satisfied those opposing the pipeline: their opposition is absolute. They are not interested in whether Northern Gateway is safe or not, or economically helpful to Canada; they oppose it, period.
Threatened civil disobedience over Northern Gateway rather trivializes the idea of civil disobedience. Another pipeline is hardly an existential threat to Canada’s (or B.C.’s) environment, much less anyone’s civil rights. Already, 825,000 kilometers of pipelines criss-cross Canada, with about 40,000 km in British Columbia (as of 2011). Another 1,200 km is hardly earth-shattering.
Then there is another other argument made by some activists: that civil disobedience in the early 1990s against the forest industry did not collapse B.C.’s economy the last time environmental activists upped the ante, so neither will it this time. But economies need not collapse to harm some people and kill off opportunities for others.
Consider one example. The 1990s-era decision to ban mining in the Tatshenshini-Alsek region of northern B.C. — the Windy Craggy deposit, a claim owned by Geddes Resources. The mine potential (in 1992 estimates) of $15 billion in copper, silver and gold extraction was at stake, with 500 direct jobs then valued at $78,000 each annually, along with another 1,500 indirect jobs.
Rather than accept a mine proposal that amounted to 1,100 square km out of 958,000 square km in total — barely more than one-tenth of one per cent of the Tatshenshini-Alsek region — a 1993 decision by the provincial government killed off the potential mine. Tourism jobs could have co-existed with mining jobs in the Tatshenshini; instead, the current tourism potential in a remote corner of the province has not and never will match the high-paying jobs of the long-scuttled $15 billion mine ($22 billion in current dollars).
This absolutist positioning is an ongoing problem in Canada. In his 2000 book on the conflict in B.C.’s forests in the 1990s, then-UBC Professor William Stanbury noted the vandalism, sabotage, ignored court injunctions, and international boycott campaigns organized by some green activists. As Stanbury wrote, “one of the more disturbing issues raised in the course of this study is that there appears to be declining respect for rationality in making major public decisions in B.C. relating to environmental issues.”
Indeed. And we see a replay of the irrational, absolutist problem now with violent protests over pipelines and violent protests over hydraulic fracturing. We will probably see more such protests should Northern Gateway receive federal approval.
Threatened protests over Northern Gateway are not your grandmother’s civil disobedience where great injustices were challenged by brave people willing to suffer jail, violence, and more to right those wrongs that afflicted the daily lives of millions.
The current and predicted protests are, instead, the reflex action of absolutists who would destroy opportunities for others regardless of how one of the world’s better-functioning democracies allows for companies to engage in lawful commerce. There is nothing noble about such “resistance.” It instead has the distinct whiff of unnecessarily severe Puritans in more modern, green attire.
This blog was co-written by Kenneth P. Green, Senior Director, Natural Resource Studies at the Fraser Institute.