September 27, 2011
Holding hands with Maude Barlow and marching with Dave Coles, Tony Clarke, Graham Saul, George Poitras and a group of Aboriginal leaders, we marched slowly towards a metal fence. Media blocked our way and it was difficult to see past them to the police awaiting us, but it seemed to me that they were standing back rather than moving forward to confront us. That was comforting and a small sign that this would more or less go as planned. We were supposed to spread out at arms length to give each of us room to step up onto the lower bar of the fence and swing the other leg over. But the media funnelled us into a narrow space and that just wasn’t going to happen. Coles was first over, the rest of us one or two at a time after. An RCMP approached and told me that I was in a restricted zone and if I did not go back over the fence he would arrest me. He asked again to make sure I understood. Plastic cuffs bound my hands behind me and that was it — my first arrest in a lifetime of political and labour activism.
This was an act of conscience against the Keystone XL pipeline which in spite of Canadian regulatory approval a year and a half ago has not yet received U.S. approval and has not commenced construction in Canada.
Dave Coles, President of CEP, and I were representing our members who have stood opposed to the pipeline and the model of development it represents from its inception. CEP opposed XL at the National Energy Board, appealed their decision to cabinet and then sought leave in federal court to force a judicial appeal.