Ah the joys of having a good memory. One wonders if the promoters of abortion censorship remember the riots over abortion? (There never has been rioting over the abortion issue here in British Columbia.) But guess what issue the liberal left has a hard time remembering…and guess what issue would never be the subject of a Freedom of Information ban? And so, we look in the history books, in this case an article written by Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer, who shows us quite well what the definition of a double standard is:
Imagine Premier Mike Harcourt’s reaction if environmentalists had not only blocked the road to Clayoquot Sound, but physically attacked loggers and driven them off. Think what New Democrats would say if the Penticton Indians resorted to mass violence in their blockade of the Apex Alpine ski resort?
Or, if those scenarios seem unlikely, try this one: A half-dozen representatives of one of Vancouver’s abortion clinics are attempting to serve copies of the latest court injunction when they are set upon by a crowd of anti-abortionists and cursed, punched, kicked, spattered with filth and chased through the streets.
Would the premier and his ministers remain silent in the face of such provocations? Would they countenance the preposterous excuse that the badly outnumbered victims had “provoked” the mob violence that descended on them?
I have no doubt where the New Democrats would stand in the above situations. They have repeatedly asserted their belief that the right to protest must not be accompanied by violence, nor should demonstrators break the law or infringe the rights of others. The government’s determination to log the Clayoquot led to 800 arrests of peaceful protesters. The premier has said it is “not acceptable” for natives to “block or obstruct an established public highway,” and at Apex Alpine the government has gone to court to back up that position. And to combat the threat of violence from anti-abortionists, the New Democrats set up a special law-enforcement team, the Criminal Harassment Unit.
For all that, the New Democrats have shown great reluctance to take action — or even to speak out against — violence and intimidation when it arises in connection to protests mounted by the labor movement. Of course I’m referring to the situation of MacMillan Bloedel’s new pulp mill in Port Alberni, culminating in the ugly scene last Thursday where a large group of protesters attacked a half-dozen representatives of the hated TNL Construction, who were trying to deliver copies of a Labor Relations Board order granting them lawful access to the site.
Union leader Len Werden had set the scene by forecasting “there will be blood in the bloody street,” and he may have gotten his wish. One TNL worker suffered a broken cheekbone, a police officer was injured and some thug took the opportunity to rough up an innocent observer, BCTV camera operator Ron Thompson, who is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
While labor tried to blame the violence on the victims (“This wouldn’t have happened if the TNL goons hadn’t shown up,” said one shop steward, “the guys saw red.”), the response from the New Democrats was mainly the silence that implies consent.
For instance, Attorney-General Colin Gabelmann recently preached to the anti-abortion movement as follows: “If they have some problem with the laws of Canada, they should follow democratic means to have those laws changed.” He might address similar remarks to Doug LeSire, president of the Alberni paperworkers’ local, who is on record as saying: “We don’t intend on breaking laws as long as the laws are just. But this is not just.”Women’s Minister Penny Priddy was quick to denounce those who practise intimidation at abortion clinics: “Certainly people have the right to peaceful protest. But when it interferes with people’s access. . . that becomes very problematic. . . . In the end what this is really about is violence against women.” Would she apply that sentiment to the TNL worker who was forced to leave town after appalling threats against his wife and daughter?
What about a word from Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Cashore, whose ministry recently guaranteed a $500,000 loan to Apex Alpine, the company victimized by the Penticton Indian band’s blockaded. Isn’t lawful access to construction sites at least as important as the right to ski?
Finally, where was Mr. Harcourt? He pronounced himself to be “white with fury” after environmental protesters broke into the legislature in 1993. He has a chance to express like sentiments this week, when he addresses the B.C. Federation of Labor annual convention. Will he use that platform to tell unions that they, no more than other groups engaged in legitimate protest, must not be parties to violence, law-breaking and intimidation? (NDP strangely mum on Port Alberni; VAUGHN PALMER. The Vancouver Sun. Vancouver, B.C.: Nov 28, 1994. pg. A.12)