Americas, Canada, Human Rights

Shutdown on Line 9

I think you will find it hard to find a rational person who hates the idea of protecting other people. Note that I didn’t say it’s hard to find a PERSON who hates the idea of protection others; I said a RATIONAL person.

Three activists shut down a valve in the Oil Pipeline #9 in Northern Ontario in late January, and now the people responsible are facing massive prison sentences. These activists oppose the pipeline because it tears through their hometown, endangers animals, and changes the environment around where people are. The government is pressing massive charges against Vanessa Gray, Sarah Scanlon and Stone Stewart. These charges are for endangering of life, vandalism, and trespassing, and they could lead to life in prison.

Here’s the problem: a few things don’t add up. Although closing a valve is risky, it is not likely to kill anyone. In the worst-case scenario it could lead to a spill, but that would require gross negligence on the part of pipeline engineers. Here’s the more likely scenario: the government is sending a message to anyone who would try to tamper with the pipelines.

Oil pipelines have met with massive opposition, but unless you have a lot of money or power you are not likely to make a difference. Ordinary people whose lives would be changed by a pipeline don’t really get a say, unless it’s through slightly-outside-of-legal means. Now, shutting down a pipe valve to send a message to invading companies may not be LEGAL, but is it truly unethical? Is it wrong to try to enact change in the only way you know how? The government has no reason to stop the pipeline; they’re making money off of it! And let’s not even mention the oil companies.

If you don’t have power, you need to make a change ANY way that you can. And the government will likely try to stop you. Now, I’m not trying to sound like a crazy conspiracy nutcase, but it is not outside the realm of possibility that the government is abusing power to punish Vanessa Gray, Sarah Scanlon and Stone Stewart for taking a stand. A slap on the wrist or even a hefty fine would be understandable; it was illegal and you know your risks when you engage in activism. However, life in prison is too much. And the government knows it.

The pipeline is risky. If it spills it could affect everyone’s livelihood, not to mention massive environmental damages and problems. The government isn’t listening right now… Someone needs to step up and make a change. When the government won’t listen, they shouldn’t be surprised when people take matters into their own hands.

About Caleb Smith

Caleb is a freelance writer and music student from the United States, with a passion for comic books, reading, and punk rock. He loves writing about often overlooked and under-reported stories to help raise awareness.

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