Petro-Cops

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Mr Gérard Montpetit is aware that the slogan «defund the police» is a response to improper police methods. However, less police forces means that street gangs will be free to impose their will; this year, there were numerous shootings, resulting in deaths and injuries in Montreal and Toronto. During an election, we must examine police funding. That is why  we must ask tough questions about  police foundations funded by Big Oil.

Petro-Cops

Since the brutal strangulation of George Floyd under the knee of a cop in Minnesota, the slogan «defund the police» has become the rallying cry of those who believe that policemen have prejudices against minorities, especially blacks. This slogan is a response to improper police methods. However, there is another side to the coin of «defund the police». As in Toronto, the metropolitan area of Montreal experienced an alarming increase of shoot-outs during the last months; the media report numerous deaths and a number of wounded bystanders. Since they are afraid of a stray bullet, frightened citizens are beginning to clamor for a platform of «law and order» in the upcoming elections. Faced with such extreme positions, how can we make sure that the work of our policemen will be just and impartial in a democratic society? The situation could become worst since the petroleum lobby is quietly financing «Police Foundations».

A federal election is under way. Mr Trudeau claims to fight climate change, but he spends 12,5 billion to upgrade the TransMountain pipeline and showers the petroleum industry with millions. [1] On the other hand, Mr Erin O’Toole, as leader of the Conservative party, seems to be the likely alternative as Prime Minister. In a congress in March 2021, he proposed that his party recognize the fact of climate change; the proposal was defeated by a vote of 54%. [2] Not a good start for a party that wants to return to power in 2021!

In the winter of 2020, during the railroad blockade, Mr O’Toole proposed to «criminalize» activists who would try to shut-down important infrastructures. [3] This proposal becomes alarming when put in relation to an article by Dylan Penner of the Council of Canadians. He writes that «Big Oil» finances police foundations in many cities of Canada. The «Calgary Police Foundation» received millions from companies such as TC Energy(owner of Coastal GasLink) Cenovus Energy, Encana, Enbridge and Talisman Energy. For a full list of donors and the amounts involved, please read link[4] Should we worry that these supposedly charitable foundations may have an indirect influence on the work of our police Corps?

If a police corps receives donations (via a foundation) for paramilitary equipment, would they be more inclined to confrontation rather than conciliation in a stand-off with anti-petroleum activists? Especially if the company demands that an injunction in its favor be upheld! A proverb claims that «he who pays the piper calls the tune»! One must remember that First Nations were angry when the RCMP entered their territory during the winter of 2020. Does the fact that that they forcefully entered Wet’suwet’en territory have any thing to do with the fact that the «RCMP Foundation» received funds from the owners of Coastal GasLink?

A Vancouver news-outlet, The Tyee, analyzed the problem of financing police forces by large corporations.” The Vancouver Police Foundation, which has also funded an armoured vehicle and a $500,000 SWAT mobile command truck for the Vancouver police did not return multiple requests fromThe Tyee for an interview…. “ [5]

This militarization of the police forces should be a worry for indigenous «Coast Defenders» and climate activists who are opposed to the construction of the oil terminal near Burnaby. So, would the police have a favorable bias towards the oil lobby even though the courts of law are still pondering questions about the legality of certain aspects of Coastal GasLink? [6] Faced with the possible 6th great extinction of species, the fight against climate change should not have to face-off with a militarized police which are (at least partly) financed by Big Oil. In a democracy, the right to protest against fossil fuels, the root cause of climate change, should not be compromised!

The police should be the neutral referee when there are tensions between conflicting interests. True, there is a problem of «toxic masculinity» in some police corps.[7] But if we «defang» the police, rival gangs and criminal groups will accelerate the number of shoot-outs on our streets. Some would like to defund the police; unfortunately, this leaves the door wide open for more private financing by large corporations. As Mr Penner wrote; “ Police foundations are a key space for orchestrating, normalizing, and celebrating the collaboration between corporate power and the police… This symbiotic relationship between the fossil fuel industry and police often means that the companies that are polluting Black and Brown communities […] are the same ones that are aligned with and propping up police forces in these same cities...” [4]

In the fragile equilibrium between freedom, the right to protest, and the safety of citizens, police forces have a key role. This is why transparency is paramount. During a election campaign, we should carefully examine the growing influence of huge corporations on the police forces via these police foundations.

[For more information please read links 8 to 11]

Gérard Montpetit

member of CCCPEM (comité des citoyens et citoyennes pour la protection de l’environnement maskoutain) August 21, 2021

 

1] https://www.ledevoir.com/politique/canada/622629/politique-federale-davantage-d-aides-a-l- industrie-petroliere-sous-trudeau-que-sous-harper

2] https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1778755/conservateurs-rejet-motion-changements-climatiques

3] https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/09/17/news/climate-strikers-are-trying-trademark-erin-otooles-take-back-canada-slogan

4] https://canadians.org/analysis/troubling-financial-connections-between-big-oil-and-police? utm_source=Council+of+Canadians&utm_campaign=c686f06e82- EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_10_08_06_44&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f477a42a0b- c686f06e82-384229488&mc_cid=c686f06e82&mc_eid=e98be6a48c

5] https://thetyee.ca/News/2020/08/24/Private-Firms-Pour-Millions-Militarizing-Police/? _ga=2.50812782.633812603.1602260135-1282776381.1602260135

6] https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/10/02/news/bc-supreme-court-hears-wetsuweten-petition-review-coastal-gas-link-certificate

7] https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2021/04/08/Defund-Police-Tackle-Toxic-Masculinity/? utm_source=national&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=080421

8] https://www.desmog.com/2020/10/31/critical-infrastructure-protest-criminalization-bills-marathon-petroleum/?utm_source=DeSmog%20Weekly%20Newsletter

9] https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/11/12/news/rcmp-surveillance-searches-breached-anti-fracking-protesters-rights-watchdog-Luki

10] https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/caitlyn-vernon/sierra-club-csis_b_4346212.html?

11] https://www.nationalobserver.com/2021/04/19/news/enbridge-accused-paying-us-police-harass-activists