with Terry Porter on acoustic bass in a
Fundraising concert for
Admission $15.00. All proceeds to BROKE
Sat. Jan.21st at Cranberry Commons
4274 Albert St. Burnaby,
(one block north of Hastings,
3rd block west of Willingdon)
Doors open at 7:00PM
Concert starts at 7:30PM
Janie Benna 604 454 1771
Dennis Lakusta 1 250 802 8054
Ruth Walmsley 604 298 9220
\Dennis Lakusta – In addition to being a noted artist in visual media, Dennis, is a musician, singer and songwriter with eight or more CDs to his credit (some of which may be available). He can make you laugh, cry, cringe, or rage at injustice. Please check out Dennis’ new website at http://dlakusta.org/ Never one to shy away from thorny issues including the blind and wanton destruction of our planet and the flagrant assault of our most basic rights and civil liberties, Dennis, a strong activist of Cree ancestry, gives a Fundraising benefit concert for BROKE.
BROKE Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion, originating in 2011, is a group of local residents who led the fight against Kinder Morgan, and who were in the ranks of the many arrested making a stand on Burnaby Mountain in 2014. With the recent Federal approval of the Kinder Morgan expansion BROKE will again be at the forefront in the fight to oppose the degradation of our city, our neighbourhoods, and the natural habitat, that an oil pipeline and related industrialization of Burrard Inlet would bring.
The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned approval of Enbridge’s controversial Northern Gateway project after finding Ottawa failed to properly consult the First Nations affected by the pipeline.
“We find that Canada offered only a brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity … to exchange and discuss information and to dialogue,” the ruling says.
- Northern Gateway pipeline opponents get say at mega-hearing
- Northern Gateway pipeline approved with 209 conditions
“It would have taken Canada little time and little organizational effort to engage in meaningful dialogue on these and other subjects of prime importance to Aboriginal Peoples. But this did not happen.”
Constitutional requirement to consult
The majority ruling was signed by two of the three judges on the Appeal Court panel. Judge Michael Ryer wrote a dissenting opinion.
Pipeline opponents have called the decision “landmark.”
“At every turn you’re going, you are seeing nails in the coffin of the Enbridge project,” said Peter Lantin, president of the council of the Haida Nation, one of the parties that appealed.
“I don’t think there’s enough room for another nail in the coffin.”
“First Nations, local communities, and environmental interests said no to Enbridge 12 years ago when it first proposed the project. And now that “no” has the backing of the courts,” said Ecojustice lawyer Barry Robinson.
“Between on-the-ground opposition and the federal government’s promises to keep B.C.’s North Coast tanker free and demonstrate climate leadership, this pipeline is never getting built.”
Environmental groups launch court challenge over NEB’s Kinder Morgan report
Kinder Morgan recommendation puts one of Canada’s most iconic endangered species, the Southern Resident killer whale, at risk of harm
VANCOUVER – The National Energy Board (NEB) broke the law when it failed to apply the Species at Risk Act in its final report on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project, environmental groups say.
Ecojustice lawyers, representing Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation, have filed for a judicial review of the NEB’s report that recommended the federal Cabinet approve the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The groups argue that the NEB’s report is unlawful and used an overly narrow interpretation of the law to avoid addressing harm to Southern Resident killer whales and their critical habitat.
I’ve been working on NEB issues, and yesterday gave a talk on Pender about
tanker risks. As part of this talk, I made a couple of graphics, below, to
share the fact that Kinder Morgan would PROFIT from an oil $pill on the BC
coast, through their ownership in both the primary terrestrial and marine
oil spill response corporations in Western Canada. They are in a DIRECT
conflict of interest.
Who would spend a year investigating such claims, rooted as they are in complex tax law, regulations and corporate structure? I did.
What I found made me conclude the opposite — Kinder Morgan drains financial wealth from our economy and does not pay its fair share of taxes.
I have written about the project’s complicated design to yield meagre tax revenues for Canadians in a previous Tyee article.
Now let me examine just how Canadian Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. is. The answer: hardly at all.
Pop the hood and take a look at Kinder Morgan’s inner workings and the idea that this is a Canadian company operating for the good of Canadians is dispelled quicker than Kinder Morgan can say injunction.
If you are bored by arcane discussions of corporate structure and governance, that may be just what Kinder Morgan is hoping.
Please bear with me. It’s critical we know who really runs, and benefits from, Kinder Morgan Canada Inc.
From the boys who brought us Enron
Kinder Morgan Canada is little more than a Canadian face for one of the 50 richest American billionaires, Richard Kinder, and his Houston, Texas, based executive team — many of them the same boys who brought us Enron.
Enron was a U.S. energy giant responsible for one of the biggest accounting frauds in history. According to Robert Roach, U.S. Senate counsel and chief investigator into Enron’s collapse, Enron’s executives began falsely inflating revenues and cheating on taxes way back in 1992 (page 16 Volume 1 of 2). When it became apparent what they were up to, the house of cards imploded. Enron filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 2, 2001.
It is common knowledge that Richard Kinder — chair and CEO of Kinder Morgan — worked at Enron for 16 years. By the late 1980s he was vice-chairman of Enron’s Board, becoming its president and chief operating officer (COO) in 1990. Kinder was instrumental (see page 109 and 119) in helping establish some pretty creative tax avoidance structured transactions the company became infamous for.
Kinder and his partner William Morgan — another key player at Enron — bought Enron Liquids Pipeline Company from Enron in early 1997. What is not generally understood is Kinder himself set Enron Liquids Pipeline Co. on its path five years before he bought the company. Kinder was a member of Enron Liquids Pipeline Co.’s Board of Directors when the company filed its initial public offering (IPO) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1992.
It is also not common knowledge that at least four other key Kinder Morgan executives employed in senior positions today are Enron alumni. Three of them were with Enron when it went under and the SEC eventually brought one before the U.S. District Court on fraud charges.
Current Kinder Morgan elite who held senior positions at Enron include Steven J. Kean, Kinder Morgan’s president and COO. Kean was Enron’s executive vice-president and chief of staff in charge of human resources, government affairs, public relations, corporate communication and administration when the company filed for bankruptcy. From 1997 to 1999 he was Enron’s senior vice-president of government affairs. Kean spent 12 years at Enron — he started with the energy giant in 1989. What’s strange is that Kean’s corporate bio on Kinder Morgan’s site makes no mention of the dozen years Kean spent at Enron.
Kean must be clever. While executive vice-president at Enron he sold (page 53) more than $5.1 million in Enron stock including more than 60,000 shares on Jan. 31, 2001. The highest price Enron shares reached was $90.75 in August 2001. A year after Kean sold more than 60,000 shares at $80 each, Enron’s stock closed at 42 cents a share.
Jordan H. Mintz is Kinder Morgan’s chief tax officer and a member of the board of various Canadian Kinder Morgan subsidiaries. Mintz was the vice-president of Enron’s tax division from 1996-2000 and became general counsel for Enron Global Financial in October 2000. He joined Kinder Morgan in 2006. The U.S. government’s Securities and Exchange Commission sued Mintz in 2007 for violating anti-fraud laws, aiding and abetting Enron’s violations of anti-fraud and periodic reporting provisions, and lying to auditors while he was general counsel.
In January 2009 the SEC settled its lawsuit against Mintz — he paid a civil penalty and was suspended from practicing as a lawyer before the SEC for two years.
Two other senior Kinder Morgan executives are Enron alumni — Dax Sanders, now Kinder Morgan’s vice-president of corporate development and David P. Michels, Kinder Morgan’s vice-president of finance and investor relations. Both were hired into Enron’s Analysts and Associates Program — Enron’s boot camp that fed aggressive university grads into Enron’s work force at mid-level positions where they would rotate through different corporate divisions within Enron. Analysts and Associates learned how to structure complex deals, obtain financing, work the trading floor and generally became steeped in Enron’s corporate culture.
A pocket full of radicals
Dividend growth is key to Kinder Morgan’s stock price, but dividend growth needs revenue growth. This is why Trans Mountain’s new pipeline is so important to Kinder Morgan. The company plans to triple pipeline capacity while siphoning away more than five times the financial return. Kinder Morgan predicts (page 3) $850 million a year in cash flowing out of the Canadian economy to U.S.-based shareholders when Trans Mountain’s expansion becomes operational.
Trans Mountain’s expansion is the biggest single project on Kinder Morgan’s capital expenditure back log. It represents more than 30 per cent of planned expenditures. Without Trans Mountain, Kinder Morgan’s financial prospects severely diminish. Kinder Morgan won’t back down from Trans Mountain’s expansion without a tough fight and they will never give the impression they aren’t winning. Their stock price can’t afford it.
This may be why former Enron employee and Kinder Morgan vice-president of corporate development Dax Sanders characterized the Trans Mountain Expansion project as a done deal. He was speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Energy Conference in Miami on Nov. 14, 2014.
Sanders assured (minute 25) his audience that Kinder Morgan is “very optimistic” about the pipeline and that the company is “expecting the NEB authorization… the federal government is enormously supportive of it… the real opposition is some of the few pockets of the more radical views in the lower mainland; in Burnaby and Vancouver.”
It hard to understand how Sanders can characterize a majority of British Columbians opposed to Kinder Morgan’s twinning — including the mayors and municipal representatives of Vancouver, Burnaby and the entire North Shore — as a “few pockets of the more radical views.”
All roads lead to Houston
All Kinder Morgan’s big decisions are made in Houston. Whether it’s in-house legal, human resources, project financing, information technology, communications, audit, tax planning, insurance — the orders come from Texan deal makers.
Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. is an operating arm of the U.S. multinational. Its president, Ian Anderson — who many of us recognize from TV ads — has two people directly reporting to him aside from an executive assistant: a vice-president of operations and engineering, and a vice-president of regulatory affairs and finance. All other corporate functions report to Houston.
On operating matters, Anderson himself reports to Steven Kean. When he files stock trading statements with the U.S. SEC, Anderson identifies himself as a Kinder Morgan Inc. vice-president.
This is where the complex corporate structure begins to come into the picture and helps reveal Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. as more of a mask than a face. Kinder Morgan Canada Inc., registered in Alberta, does not own the Trans Mountain Pipeline system, nor does it own any pipeline, storage, terminal or other assets.
As shown by the Corporate Structure Chart I’ve prepared to accompany this article, Trans Mountain’s system is owned by corporate entities that feed from Trans Mountain Pipeline LP registered in Alberta, through a myriad of entities.
Click to enlarge (some browsers may require a second click to further enlarge image). Kinder Morgan corporate chart prepared by Robyn Allan. Graphic design by Karl Jensen.
Some of these are ULCs. ULC stands for Unlimited Liability Company. These unique entities only exist in Nova Scotia, Alberta and B.C. They can offer tax minimization opportunities to U.S. parent companies because of their special treatment under the U.S.-Canada Income Tax Treaty.
Trans Mountain Pipeline LP feeds into entities including Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC registered in Alberta, onto Kinder Morgan Canada Company ULC registered in Nova Scotia.
Then we cross the border and into Texas with Kinder Morgan Operating LP “A,” to Kinder Morgan Energy Partners Ltd., to Kinder Morgan GP Inc. to undisclosed entities and onto Kinder Morgan Inc. All U.S. entities are registered in Delaware because of lax laws, but their head office is in Houston, Texas.
The only corporate shares Trans Mountain’s operator Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. owns is its 25 per cent interest in Western Canadian Spill Services Ltd. (WCSS), a terrestrial spill preparedness and response organization that books profits because oil spills can, and do, happen. WCSS’ other shareholders are Enbridge Pipelines Inc., the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada.
Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. operates more than Trans Mountain. It also operates the Puget Sound and Trans Mountain Jet Fuel pipelines, Westridge marine terminal, Vancouver Wharves and the North Forty terminal. Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. plays a minor role with the Cochin condensate import pipeline because Kinder Morgan product pipelines group out of Houston, Texas — Kinder Morgan Operating LP “D” — is responsible for operating the actual Cochin system.
The flow of funds gushing away from the Canadian economy takes a slightly different route than the rights over ownership of assets. But the difference is significant — it helps directors and officers as well as the corporate entity itself avoid liability, and assists in minimizing taxes. Companies bother with complex and sophisticated corporate structures because they pay. Whether or not the structure is outside the spirit of the law or represents tax evasion is a matter for the Canada Revenue Agency to investigate and determine.
Limited Partnership unit holders do not have any say in the day-to-day running of a business if they want to protect their limits of liability to what they have invested in the Limited Partnership. This is one reason why, for example, Trans Mountain Pipeline LP would send 99.99 per cent of its partnership unit based financial returns to Kinder Morgan Cochin ULC, but only 0.01 per cent to its general partner, Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC.
The funds then flow to Kinder Morgan Canada Co. — a ULC registered in Nova Scotia and a little bit to Kinder Morgan Terminals Canada — a ULC registered in Alberta. A simpler, more direct and less lucrative route would be to have Trans Mountain as a wholly owned company of Kinder Morgan Inc. in the U.S.
Understanding the corporate structure helps us see how millions of dollars a year generated from Kinder Morgan’s Canadian activities can be repatriated to the U.S. with very little Canadian tax obligation. According to Kinder Morgan, over the past five years for Trans Mountain alone, an average of $172 million a year flows to the U.S. with an annual average tax burden of $1.5 million a year — Trans Mountain received a cash tax refund in two of them.
It is not only distributable cash flow that Kinder Morgan Inc. in the U.S. siphons from the Canadian economy. The Houston based parent charges Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. for corporate services such as in-house legal, human resources, tax advice, auditing, information technology, procurement and insurance.
As well, Kinder Morgan Inc. — the 100 per cent indirect parent of Trans Mountain — is the sole-source financing for all Kinder Morgan activities in Canada. This means interest and fees related to project financing flow to Houston. This effectively removes an opportunity for our financial sector, and Canadian investors, to participate domestically and directly in these federally regulated transportation systems, including the $5.4 billion expansion project.
As the Corporate Structure Chart shows, Trans Mountain’s pipeline system begins as a limited partnership with 0.01 per cent of its units owned by its general partner Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC and 99.99 per cent of its units owned by Kinder Morgan Cochin ULC — the company that owns the Cochin pipeline system.
Recall that ULC stands for Unlimited Liability Company, and that these unique entities, existing only in Nova Scotia, Alberta and B.C., can diminish taxes to U.S. parent companies because of their special treatment under the U.S.-Canada Income Tax Treaty.
Kinder Morgan Cochin ULC imports condensate into Alberta to mix with bitumen so it can be exported back out as diluted bitumen. Cochin used to export propane from Canada until mid-2014. Condensate production and shipment from the U.S. is a Kinder Morgan profit centre.
Trans Mountain’s expansion means every barrel of diluted bitumen exported from Kinder Morgan’s Westridge marine terminal in Burnaby will include 30 per cent condensate imported from the U.S. Trans Mountain’s expansion is not the “made-in-Canada” crude oil export opportunity as is being pitched by Kinder Morgan. What’s more, co-mingling financial returns from Trans Mountain with Cochin’s net results can represent further financial opportunities to Kinder Morgan.
The Corporate Structure Chart higher in this article shows that after Kinder Morgan Cochin ULC has absorbed its returns from Trans Mountain with its operation of the condensate import line and returns from its partnership units in Kinder Morgan Canada Terminal LP, 99.93 per cent of distributable funds flow from Kinder Morgan Cochin ULC to Kinder Morgan Canada Company ULC and 0.37 per cent to KM Canada Terminals ULC.
Kinder Morgan Canada Company is a ULC registered in Nova Scotia with all but two of its directors and officers based in Houston. Mintz is the vice-president and chief tax officer of Kinder Morgan Canada Co. ULC.
Kinder Morgan Canada Co. is a company on paper. It is 100 per cent owned indirectly by Kinder Morgan Inc. through two disclosed and at least one or more undisclosed entities. Kinder Morgan Inc. purchased its 100 per cent ownership in all the Canadian entities as part of its $76 billion acquisition on Nov. 26, 2014. The purchase allows Kinder Morgan Inc. to legally inflate the value of the purchased assets to achieve significant tax write-offs — $20 billion over 14 years turning Kinder Morgan Inc. into a tax shelter according to Rich Kinder.
As part of my right as a qualified expert intervenor at the Trans Mountain expansion project, reviewed and regulated by the National Energy Board, I asked Kinder Morgan to provide a complete corporate structure and reconcile its public claims regarding its financial and tax contribution to the Canadian economy contradicted by its reports to investor analysts in the U.S. Kinder Morgan refused arguing that the request was outside the scope of the public interest review. The National Energy Board sided with Kinder Morgan.
Kinder Morgan’s unwillingness to be transparent and accountable is frustrating. The complicity in this by Canada’s regulatory agency — the National Energy Board — is in my view tragic.
The corporate structure illustrated in the chart accompanying this article is based on a selected rendering submitted to the National Energy Board by Kinder Morgan and independent research I have conducted which relies on numerous outside publicly available sources including federal and provincial corporate registries. Best efforts have been made to be accurate. It should be noted that Kinder Morgan has more than 250 individual corporate entities with as many as 20 registered in Canada — six of them ULCs. The corporate structure provided here focuses on the Trans Mountain system and its related entities.
The Trans Mountain expansion project is a project fronted by a very Canadian sounding Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. when it’s actually driven by Richard Kinder and his executive team in Houston, Texas, many of them ex-Enron employees. Their interests are not our interests.
Canadians are being asked to decide whether a three-fold expansion of Trans Mountain’s pipeline capacity is in our economic interests. At the very least we deserve to know who is running the show, how decisions are made, who gets the money and where it’s going.
Let me repeat. There is nothing I have found in the past year of my research into Kinder Morgan that supports the claim that the Trans Mountain expansion project represents a net financial or economic benefit to the Canadian economy, or federal and provincial public treasuries. It’s just the opposite — Kinder Morgan drains financial wealth from our economy and does not pay its fair share of taxes.
Read more: Energy, Labour + Industry,
Robyn Allan is an economist, former president and CEO of ICBC and qualified expert intervenor at the National Energy Board hearing into whether the Trans Mountain Expansion project is in the public interest of Canada. Find her previous articles for The Tyee here.
Industry Minister James Moore who represents the Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam riding engaged in blatantly false fear mongering last week. He threatened a Lac Megantic disaster if we dont accept Kinder Morgans Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. In order to springboard from a disgusting reliance on a horrific tragedy to reach his ridiculous conclusion, he had to make stuff up.
These are desperate tactics from someone who as an elected Member of Parliament and Minister of the Crown should know better. He said, The people of Lac Mégantic wished they had pipelines instead of rail. If Mr. Moore and his Tory government colleagues had done their job, Lac Megantic would not have happened.
Instead of acting responsibly, Mr. Moore follows up his toxic logic with a distasteful chaser. Its very dangerous for the Lower Mainland … to have the massive spike in rail transfer of dangerous goods, he said. Moore is reported to have pointed to the huge rail yard in the heart of Port Coquitlam claiming an increasing number of trains are arriving there carrying diluted bitumen crude that has no other way to get to foreign markets.
Thats just not true. There are no facilities on the west coast to transfer crude oil from tank cars to marine shipping vessels. CP spokesperson Jeremy Berry confirmed, CP does not ship oil along its line to Vancouver for export.
Mark Hallman, CNs director of communications and public affairs explained by email that, CN has never transported crude oil or diluted bitumen to any British Columbia port or terminal for export via ocean-going vessel, and has no plans to do so.
As for the so-called massive spike in rail transfer of dangerous goods there is neither a massive transfer or a spike. Transport Canada figures of about 5,000 barrels a day relied on by Mr. Moore date back to 2013. CP confirms that, 2014 numbers are lower than 2013. It is interesting that Mr. Moore would not use recent figuresmaybe because they dont support his false narrative.
Both the Vancouver Sun and Financial Post printed the grossly misleading story (same article different title).
Mr. Moore is quoted as following up his falsehood about a massive spike in rail transfer with The people of Port Coquitlam and Burnaby and New Westminster, with dangerous goods going on those rail lines, should be concerned about that.
If Mr. Moore is concerned about rail transport, he should do everything he can to stop crude transport until its safe, not blackmail Canadians with incineration if we dont accept pipeline projects.
The truth is it is the Harper governments unrelenting willingness to cheerlead on behalf of Albertas tar sands that is putting us at risk and failing the Canadian economyincluding the economic health of our fossil fuel industry.
The Chevron refinery in Burnaby imports a small amount of crude by rail. Chevron began rail-to-truck-to-refinery deliveries in May 2012 and rail-to-refinery deliveries in April 2013 because Chevron couldnt get enough space on the existing Trans Mountain pipelineexports took priority over domestic needs.
Crowding out domestic demand is why the relatively small volumes of crude by rail to BC have increased since 2011, not because diluted bitumen is seeking foreign markets. But even if Chevron could export all the crude oil it can now receive by rail, it would take more than two months for them to fill an oil tanker. Mr. Moores heavy oil exports to foreign markets spin doesnt even make business sense.
Our safety is not threatened by rail transport of heavy oil. Our safety is threatened by the Federal Governments de-regulation of transport safety. Since 2010 marine safety budgets have been slashed 28% and rail and aviation by more than 20%. Had Transport Canada done its job regulating the rail industry Lac Megantic would not have happened.
Our safety is also threatened by the Harper governments unwillingness to ensure Canadian energy self sufficiency. The oil transported to Lac Megantic on that fateful night in July 2013 was Bakken crudea highly flammable light oil imported from New Town, North Dakota destined for the Irving refinery in New Brunswick. More than 40% of the crude oil used in eastern Canada is imported. The public policy answer is to ensure more bitumen is upgraded in Albertawhat Harper promised would happen in 2008 before foreign multinational interests made him change his mindnot build more pipelines.
Oil sands bitumen is dense like tar or wet cement. It requires imported condensate as diluent to move it through a pipeline. If more bitumen were upgraded in Alberta instead of transported as diluted bitumen for upgrading in other countries we would have plenty of pipeline space.
Barrel for barrel, diluted bitumen requires twice as much pipeline capacity as upgraded bitumen. You need dedicated condensate import pipelines, like Enbridges Southern Lights and Kinder Morgans Cochin, to bring condensate in, and then you need 30% of the heavy oil pipeline export capacity to re-export condensate as diluent in bitumen. Whats more, diluted bitumen moves 20% slower than light or synthetic crude oil.
Transporting diluted bitumen, even by pipeline, unnecessarily exposes Canadians to a condensate spill. Condensate becomes airborne when released. Its highly toxic and causes severe respiratory damage. Rail transport of heavy oil requires little or no condensate because oil in rail cars is stationarythe cars move, not the heavy oil.
Mr. Moore was elected to protect his constituents interests, not mislead them with erroneous statements and distastefully false arguments. Instead of busying himself inventing boogie men as a front for big oil he should protect the safety and business interests of Canadianswhile he still has time.
Robyn Allan is an economist, former president and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and qualified expert intervenor in the NEB Trans Mountain Expansion Project Hearings.
Spains newest political party is also its most popular. With roots in the 2011 indignados movement (also called the 15-M movement), Podemos emerged in January with a petition launched by a few dozen intellectuals. In Mays European Parliament elections, just months after its formation, the leftist party captured 8 percent of the vote. It is now the second largest political party in Spain by membership and the largest in the polls. Even the Financial Times admits, the new party appears to be on course to shatter Spains established two-party system.
At a meeting held early this year in Valladolid, Spain, Podemos General Secretary Pablo Iglesias offered his thoughts on how the Left can win. Below is an excerpt from that talk. The transcript and translation were prepared for Jacobin by Enrique Diaz-Alvarez.
I know very well that the key to understanding the history of the past five hundred years is the emergence of specific social categories, called classes. And I am going to tell you an anecdote. When the 15-M movement first started, at the Puerta del Sol, some students from my department, the department of political science, very political students they had read Marx, they had read Lenin they participated for the first time in their lives with normal people.
They despaired: They dont understand anything! We tell them, you are a worker, even if you dont know it! People would look at them as if they were from another planet. And the students went home very depressed, saying, They dont understand anything.
[Id reply to them], Cant you see that the problem is you? That politics has nothing to do with being right, that politics is about succeeding? One can have the best analysis, understand the keys to political developments since the sixteenth century, know that historical materialism is the key to understanding social processes. And what are you going to do scream that to people? You are workers and you dont even know it!
The enemy wants nothing more than to laugh at you. You can wear a t-shirt with the hammer and sickle. You can even carry a huge flag, and then go back home with your flag, all while the enemy laughs at you. Because the people, the workers, they prefer the enemy to you. They believe him. They understand him when he speaks. They dont understand you. And maybe you are right! Maybe you can ask your children to write that on your tombstone: He was always right but no one ever knew.
When you study successful transformational movements, you see that the key to success is to establish a certain identity between your analysis and what the majority feels. And that is very hard. It implies riding out contradictions.
Do you think I have any ideological problem with a forty-eight hour or a seventy-two-hour wildcat strike? Not in the least! The problem is that organizing a strike has nothing to do with how badly you or I want to do it. It has to do with union strength, and both you and I are insignificant there.
You and I may wish that earth were a paradise for all mankind. We can wish whatever we want, and put it on a t-shirt. But politics is about strength, it is not about wishes or what we say in assemblies. In this country there are only two unions with the ability to organize a general strike: the CCOO and the UGT. Do I like that? No. But it is what it is, and organizing a general strike is very difficult.
Ive manned the picket lines in front of the bus depots in Madrid. The people there, at dawn, you know where they had to go? To work. They were no scabs. But they would be fired from their jobs, because at their jobs there were no unions to defend them. Because the workers who can defend themselves, like those in the shipyards, in the mines, they have strong unions. But the kids that work as telemarketers, or at pizza joints, or the girls working in retail, they cannot defend themselves.
They are going to be canned the day after the strike, and you are not going to be there, and I am not going to be there, and no union is going to be there guaranteeing them that theyre going to sit down with the boss and tell him: youd better not fire this person for exercising their right to strike, because you are going to pay a price for it. That doesnt happen, no matter how enthusiastic we may be.
Politics is not what you or I would like it to be. It is what it is, and it is terrible. Terrible. And thats why we must talk about popular unity, and be humble. Sometimes you have to talk to people who dont like your language, with whom the concepts you use to explain dont resonate. What does that tell us? That we have been defeated for many years. Losing all the time implies just that: that peoples common sense is different [from what we think is right]. But that is not news. Revolutionaries have always known that. The key is to succeed in making common sense go in a direction of change.
César Rendueles, a very smart guy, says most people are against capitalism, and they dont know it. Most people defend feminism and they havent read Judith Butler or Simone de Beauvoir. Whenever you see a father doing the dishes or playing with his daughter, or a grandfather teaching his grandkid to share his toys, there is more social transformation in that than in all the red flags you can bring to a demonstration. And if we fail to understand that those things can serve as unifiers, they will keep laughing at us.
Thats how the enemy wants us. He want us small, speaking a language no one understands, in a minority, hiding behind our traditional symbols. He is delighted with that, because he knows that as long as we are like that, we are not dangerous.
We can have a really radical discourse, say we want to do a general wildcat strike, talk about the people in arms, brandish symbols, carry portraits of the great revolutionaries to our demonstrations they are delighted with that! They laugh at us. However, when you gather together hundreds, thousands of people, when you start convincing the majority, even those who voted for the enemy thats when they start to be afraid. And that is called politics. That is what we need to learn.
There was a fellow here who talked about the Soviets in 1905. There was that bald guy a genius. He understood the concrete analysis of a concrete situation. In a time of war, in 1917, when the regime had crashed in Russia, he said a very simple thing to the Russians, whether they were soldiers, peasants, or workers. He said: bread and peace.
And when he said bread and peace, which is what everyone wanted for the war to be over and to have enough to eat many Russians who had no idea whether they were left or right, but did know that they were hungry, they said: The bald guy is right. And the bald guy did very well. He didnt talk to the Russians about dialectical materialism, he talked to them about bread and peace. And that is one of the main lessons of the twentieth century.
Trying to transform society by mimicking history, mimicking symbols, is ridiculous. There is no repeating other countries experiences, past historical events. The key is to analyze processes, historys lessons. And to understand that at each point in time, bread and peace, if it is not connected to what people think and feel, is just repeating, as farce, a tragic victory from the past.
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Local opposition to the proposed pipeline has been fierce, with pipeline opponents raising concerns about oil spills, tanker traffic and climate change.
Its no secret Mayor Derek Corrigan and council are against the pipeline expansion anywhere in Burnaby, but when Kinder Morgan started survey work for a proposed pipeline route through a city-owned conservation area, Burnaby fired back with stop work orders and fines for violating a local bylaw that prohibits cutting trees in public parks.
Kinder Morgan then went to the National Energy Board, which issued an order directing the city to back off. Thats when hundreds of residents from Burnaby and beyond descended on the mountain. When Kinder Morgan showed up for work, protesters drove their contractors away, some shouting foul language, and one young chap chained himself to the underside of a work vehicle.
This time, Kinder Morgan went to the B.C. Supreme Court, asking for an injunction. The companys lawyers were arguing that peoples facial expressions constituted assault, and although there may be legal merit to that argument, the public found it absurd. People posted selfies of their menacing Kinder Morgan faces on social media, and the #KMFace Internet meme went viral.
On Nov. 14, the court gave Kinder Morgan its injunction, ordering protesters to stay away or risk arrest. Police arrived on the mountain in larger numbers on Nov. 20, sealed off Centennial Way and set up a no-go zone around Kinder Morgans work areas. But that didnt stop hundreds from gathering on the mountain for what would become a 10-day standoff. In all, 126 people crossed the injunction line, including two 11-year-old girls. The girls were not arrested; they were simply detained and released, but that sparked another controversy over whether their parents should have them cross and adults in general should take their kids to protests. Even Premier Christy Clark chimed in, criticizing the parents for letting their kids break the law, while her detractors quickly pointed out how she ran a stop sign with her kid and a reporter in the car.
Other high-profile appearances on Burnaby Mountain included David Suzuki, who admonished the RCMP for allegedly pulling his grandson across police lines so he could be arrested. Many Burnaby residents were arrested for violating the injunction, including Ruth Walmsley and Peter Cech, father of one of the 11-year-old girls. Both adults are members of Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion. SFU professor Lynne Quarmby was also arrested.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs also crossed the injunction line on Nov. 27. Dressed in a suit, with red face paint, the First Nations leader stood facing police at the injunction line in the woods, in the thick of a drumming and singing crowd. Phillip slipped under the police tape, and RCMP respectfully took him into custody.
Later that day, news broke that a B.C. Supreme Court threw out all civil contempt charges against the protesters, because Kinder Morgan screwed up the GPS coordinates, which meant no one really knew where the injunction areas were. Protesters followed up with more celebratory gatherings on the mountain.
The Battle on Burnaby Mountain has all the hallmarks of a classic David and Goliath tale, but the central issue is whether a federally appointed body, like the NEB, can override a citys bylaws. Its something the courts have yet to rule on, and the city is still pursuing legal action to defend its bylaws. The NEB Act already allows companies like Kinder Morgan to conduct survey work and build pipelines on Crown land and private property without the landowners permission, but never before has a city come up against the NEB the way Burnaby has, meaning any court decisions on the matter will be precedent setting and could have implications for other municipalities across the country.
The mayor is spot on when he says this is just Phase 1 of a very long war. We are certain Kinder Morgan will dominate the headlines for 2015 and years to come. If something as simple as survey work led to a 10-day standoff with police and protesters, one can only imagine what will happen if Kinder Morgan actually starts building the pipeline.
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