How this bill targets Indigenous peoples and minorities of Alberta
“Essential infrastructure”, according to Bill 1 includes pipelines, oil sites, provincial highways, railways and many more.
Many of the “essential infrastructure” areas listed are already private property, industry or government owned facilities; meaning many of these areas are already illegal to trespass and protest on (including hydro developments, power plants, oil sands, etc.) Listing these already known areas in the bill helps to bury the new information.
Listing railways as “essential infrastructure” is a response to the solidarity protests nationwide that involved railroad blockades in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs refusing consent to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
The blockades were non-violent and were only aiming to shut down Canada, in order to have their voices heard. However, these blockades across Alberta, specifically in Edmonton, were an ‘inconvenience’ to the UCP government because they couldn’t continue with the pipeline and business as usual.
In order to ensure the pipeline can be built (without consent) on Wet’suwet’en territory with less protests, the UCP government has simply decided to claim railways as “essential infrastructure” under Bill 1 to enforce consequences like arresting without a warrant.
Bill 1 states:
“The land on which essential infrastructure is located, and any land used in connection with the essential infrastructure, is deemed to be part of the essential infrastructure.”
1. The government can deem what they want to be essential infrastructure
2. The land the government wants to use for essential infrastructure for pipelines they can deem to be illegal to gather and protest on. Even if it is within indigenous territory.
Bill 1 prohibitions are:
(1) No person shall, without lawful right, justification or excuse, wilfully enter on any essential infrastructure.
(2) No person shall, without lawful right, justification or excuse, wilfully damage or destroy any essential infrastructure.
(3) No person shall, without lawful right, justification or excuse, wilfully obstruct, interrupt or interfere with the construction, maintenance, use or operation of any essential infrastructure in a manner that renders the essential infrastructure dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective.
These prohibitions basically explain that you cannot trespass onto essential infrastructure and private property and damage it- which is already illegal. So once again they are trying to hide the deeper meaning with already common knowledge. However, with the new definition of essential infrastructure it means now more places (including railways) are prohibited from being used in protests. And Indigenous land can be deemed “essential infrastructure” kicking people off their land, and making it illegal to enter their own land.
These prohibitions basically explain that you cannot trespass onto essential infrastructure and private property and damage it- which is already illegal. So once again they are trying to hide the deeper meaning with already common knowledge. With the new definition of essential infrastructure, it means now more places (including sidewalks) are prohibited from being gathered on and therefore used in protests. And Indigenous land can be deemed “essential infrastructure” kicking people off their land, and making it illegal to enter and use their own land.
Offenses, penalties and arrests:
A first offence can result in a fine of $1000 and up to
$10 000 or can result in an imprisonment for up to 6 months, or both.
“A peace officer may arrest, without warrant, any person the
peace officer finds on essential infrastructure
Not only can you be fined and arrested for peacefully protesting on or near whatever the UCP determines to be essential infrastructure, but a large fine that many underprivileged people cannot afford to pay will be given. This once again demonstrates how this bill is intended to target Indigenous people.
This bill is a scare tactic meant to keep Indigenous people silent and afraid, making the government’s invasion into their land easier.
Bill 1 infringes on the rights and freedoms of Canadians and is unconstitutional. The government wants to silence Indigenous peoples making it harder for them to defend their land and practice their rights to peacefully protest and voice their concerns.
The UCP government is concerned with building this pipeline to fuel a dying oil & gas run economy through exploiting Indigenous people and their land and instilling fear. Does this sound like a government for the people?