Canada’s fossil fuel subsidies include millions to the RCMP that criminalize Wet’suwet’en land defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Likhts’amisyu (Fireweed) Clan tweet: “The #CIRG Unit has returned and are testing the waters again. It looks as though things are beginning to escalate again.”

G20 leaders – including Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau – met in Rome on October 30-31, just prior to gathering in Glasgow for the COP26 summit.

The G20 Rome Leaders’ Declaration notes:

“We will increase our efforts to implement the commitment made in 2009 in Pittsburgh to phase out and rationalize, over the medium term, inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption and commit to achieve this objective, while providing targeted support for the poorest and the most vulnerable.”

And yet, The Guardian comments: “In July, a [Bloomberg NEF/Philanthropies] report showed that the G20 countries had subsidised fossil fuels by trillions of dollars since 2015, the year the Paris climate deal was reached [at COP21].”

Notably, in May 2020, the Government of Canada-owned Export Development Canada public finance agency approved a $500 million loan to build the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia.

That CGL fracked gas pipeline, being built on Wet’suwet’en lands without their free, prior and informed consent, has been backed by two highly militarized RCMP raids. The first was on January 8, 2019, when 14 land defenders were arrested. And the second on February 6, 2020, in which another 22 land defenders were arrested.

The Environmental Defence PAYING POLLUTERS report released this past April highlights: “A particularly egregious form of fossil fuel subsidy are investments made into policing Indigenous land defenders opposing fossil fuel infrastructure.”

It adds: “For example, over $13 million was spent last year on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to ‘protect’ the Coastal GasLink pipeline – which took the form of harassing Wet’suwet’en Nation community members who oppose the pipeline.”

In October 2020, the CBC specified: “The cost of policing the Coastal GasLink pipeline conflict in northern B.C. between January 2019 and March 2020 was more than $13 million, according to documents obtained by CBC News.”

If we understand that as a 15-month period, that averages at just under $1 million a month (about $873,000. per month).

Given the police presence on Wet’suwet’en territory has continued for the 20 months since that period, it’s possible that an another $17.5 million has been spent on the Canadian police presence on sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory.

And given the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Canada in December 2019 to withdraw the RCMP from Wet’suwet’en lands, it could be estimated that Canada has instead spent more than $19 million on maintaining that police presence over the 22 months since that resolution was passed.

A third RCMP raid on Wet’suwet’en territory is expected now that water protectors have begun blocking Coastal GasLink from drilling under the Wedzin Kwa river.

World Beyond War Canada and Christian Peacemaker Teams are now present on Wet’suwet’en territory. Peace Brigades International-Canada will also be present starting next week as an observer to this land defence struggle.

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