Rally Against Alberta's CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE DEFENCE ACT
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On February 25th, 2020, Jason Kenney's Alberta government had the First Reading of Bill 1: Critical Infrastructure Defence Act (you can read the bill by clicking here). The bill passed its Third Reading on May 28th, so it is on track to become the law. The bill allows peace officers, police officers, and RCMP officers to arrest and jail protesters for up to 6 months and/or fine between $1000 and $10 000 for a first offence, and fine up to $25 000 and imprison for more than 6 months for a second or subsequent offence. If a person enters, damages, or blocks "essential infrastructure" (including pipelines, mining sites, highways, railways, farms, public water/electrical utility, city streets, etc.). The bill identifies that it will prosecute those who do the aforementioned if they do any of the incriminating acts "without lawful right, justification, or excuse." This could mean that people are still allowed to protest (according to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) but disallows occupation of sites of infrastructure.
This bill was proposed and passed amid the 2020 Canadian pipeline and railway protests which were spear-headed by Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their supporters in an effort to block the Coastal GasLink project. Throughout Canada, people held solidarity protests by peacefully blocking bridges, legislative buildings, and railways. The Canada National Railway (CNR) and other businesses that were blocked have sued protestors for damages. Throughout the protests, Indigenous people and their allies have been arrested and served injunctions, and had their blockades taken down by RCMP. The CNR was forced to stop running trains briefly due to blockades, which caused delays in transporting grains, fertilizer, and propane. The protests resulted in the creation and signing of a memorandum of understanding which is an agreement about protocols for discussing future projects on Wet-suwet-en territory, which will hold the government more accountable for respecting land rights. This is a simplification of the situation, but ultimately it shows how peaceful protest on critical infrastructure led to some real change.
The big picture is that occupation of public roads, government buildings, mining sites, and railways is absolutely critical to getting corporations and the government to listen and respect human and land rights. This bill endangers protestors and our ability to enact change. The government is trying to get out of being held accountable for their lack of respect for Indigenous Peoples human and land rights, and for environmental sustainability. The bill is incredibly dangerous and proves that Jason Kenney and the government of Alberta want to silence the people who disagree with his politics. Please sign and share to tell Kenney and the government that this bill is unacceptable.
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