The Canadian economy may be about to derail. The problem is not coronavirus, but rather a series of left-wing protests that have halted rail traffic across the country in solidarity with an indigenous effort to stop a gas pipeline.
If that sounds familiar, it should: the Canadian protest echoes the Dakota Access Pipeline blockade in the U.S. in the winter of 2016-7, when leftists, stunned by Donald Trump’s election victory, regrouped on the frigid plains.
That protest had many of the same elements: an effort to fight climate change by stopping a fuel pipeline; claims (true or untrue) that indigenous people would be harmed by the project; destruction of property; and radical chic.
But the Canadian protest has at least one additional element: a left-wing government, led by a “woke” politician in Justin Trudeau, who is reluctant to restore law and order, and has allowed the protest to spread across the nation.
The Canadian crisis began late last year, when a court granted the Coastal GasLink company an injunction to allow it to remove any obstacles along an approved route for a gas pipeline across tribal lands in British Columbia.
There is some evidence that many people in the indigenous “First Nation” in question, the Wet’suwet’en, actually support the pipeline project, not least because it will create local jobs. But some hereditary chiefs oppose it.
What began as a local dispute became a national crisis when left-wing protesters in Ontario, Quebec, and other provinces began disrupting rail traffic in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en chiefs, and against climate change.
Celebrity teen activist Greta Thunberg herself weighed in, supporting the pipeline and rail protests with a tweet: “Indigenous rights = Climate justice.” She added two hashtags: “#WetsuwetenStrong” and “KeepItIntheGround.”
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) February 8, 2020
Things moved beyond peaceful protest. As Breitbart News’ Chris Tomlinson noted, the government said last week “far-left protesters aligned with a counter-pipeline group have been actively sabotaging railway infrastructure.”
Three trains have derailed thus far, and sabotage by left-wing activists is suspected — even though derailment poses massive risks for human life and the environment, including large-scale oil spills and potentially deadly wildfires.
Antifa — the so-called “anti-fascist” group that has brought violence to protests in the U.S. — are also allegedly involved in a “solidarity” blockade that has disrupted Canadian rail traffic at a major rail junction near Toronto.
And things could escalate. Breitbart News reported Thursday that the premier of Quebec had declined to enforce injunctions against the rail protesters because some were believed to be armed with AK-47s (which they denied).
What Canada is experiencing is a national-scale Occupy Wall Street — the disruptive protest movement that Demcorats and the mainstream media glorified for weeks in 2011, after trashing the Tea Party for months.
President Barack Obama backed Occupy. He also denied the Dakota Access Pipeline an easement, delighting the protesters on his way out of office in December 2016 — a decision that was only reversed when Trump took office.
Bernie Sanders has styled his campaign as a mass protest movement, which he has compared to the anti-apartheid and civil rights struggles. There is no reason to expect he will dial back the radicalism if he wins the White House.
Quite the contrary, in fact. One of his main supporters, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), started her political career at the Dakota Access protest. What is happening in Canada could be only a small taste of things to come.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.