Thursday, May 21, 2015

Michael's Musing (4)

There was a revolutionary meeting of council last Tuesday and like all true revolutions, it wasn't televised.  It was scheduled on short notice for a Tuesday because of the Victoria day holiday and so Shaw didn't broadcast or record it. I'm told there will be an audio recording released but it wasn't fun to watch and won't be fun to listen to. That said, important and historic things happened at the meeting, mainly the city has no plans now to work on the dams but instead is choosing the "fourth option", defiance backed by Civil Disobedience.  While the Cities lawyer is instructed to make an appeal to the environmental review board and ask the courts for a stay of the work order and the Mayor will lead a delegation to meet with provincial decision makers, the actual strategy is one of defiance. Our message to the Provincial Government is  ' We aren't going to work on our dams, instead you work on your damn attitude.'  

 This happened more because of pressure and political circumstance than because anyone planned it. The consensus of a few weeks ago died and was replaced by frustration and fingerpointing. Without a least intrusive option the majority on council all but gave up on legal avenues and stuck with their conviction that nothing really needs to be done. The minority on Council is weakened by the fact that Councillors Brennan and Pratt seem to be taking turns missing meetings. This makes compromise less likely to succeed when the rare opportunity arises. So we will be in defiance of a Provincial order in a few weeks, subject to a fine in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. So we will be fighting the final battle both on the ground and in the court of public opinion. Resistance to work crews will certainly happen. How will that play out?  Media attention will increase across the province and we will be able to tell a David Vs. Goliath story. Discipline within the Civil Disobedience campaign will be crucial to it's success. Strategically it will need to divide the Provincial bureaucracy from their natural allies in the Cabinet and the Courts. Tactically it will need to analyse the chokepoints into the park and defend them for a long time.  Nanaimo has sent many radicals to many places for these sorts of actions and it will be worthwhile to start calling in favours. Support work in media and court appearances are also important to these campaigns. Finding a role for those unwilling to break the law is worthwhile. 

 With all this in mind I have a mischievous suggestion. Lets call for a provincial referendum. the law allows us to campaign for one and gives us two or more months to do so. In this time period actions and injunctions may be delayed or at least discomfited. More importantly it will give us a mechanism to rally support outside the city. Lets be clear that this has less chance of making it on the ballot than the Marijuana initiative did but the process involves weeks of signature collection and tabulation. It will also give an important role to the Colliery dams preservation Society which has disavowed any sort of Civil disobedience. Just a thought. I covered the meeting on twitter. My account name is digitalwolfman if you would like to read them.



  1. Michael: Is it your contention that:

    1. The GSI proposal is dead? and

    2. That Provincial authorities really want to slap Nanaimo down even if they can find a way around it?

  2. The GSI proposal seems linked to Dam Safety approval. I think the City should proceed with that or sand bag even though they don' t meet the wording of the work order. Showing progress and good intentions isn't pointless to anyone but City staff. The Province would love to find a work around and we should be creating options for them. It is unethical to break the law without trying everything else first.


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