British Columbia’s Dogwood Initiative is reporting that “the hate mail is piling up”, with one “B-list Canadian ‘celebrity’” suggesting that organizers be hanged for treason, following news reports that federal funding would pay for a summer job for a campaign assistant working against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
After Opposition leader Andrew Scheer drew attention to the grant, one of 70,000 Ottawa is issuing this year, the resulting coverage “unleashed a firestorm of pro-oil sands trolls furious that any amount of ‘their’ tax dollars are going to stop the expansion of pipelines and oil tankers,” Dogwood’s Don Gordon wrote in an email to supporters. “Their hateful calls, e-mails, and social media posts have been flooding into Dogwood, being read by staff and volunteers alike. A menacing ‘You’re done, Dogwood’ was one of the first e-mails we received.”
“Do we still hang for treason?” tweeted Investment banker and one-time Dragons’ Den panelist Brett Wilson, who later doubled down on that question in an interview with CBC’s The Current.
“An angry mass wants to silence you and undermine the work we’ve done and still need to do,” Gordon responded. But “there is nothing radical about standing up to protect the coast, respect First Nations’ rights and title, and combat climate change.”
On CBC, Dogwood Communications Director Kai Nagata said the organization has received federal summer job grants since 2010, during the Stephen Harper regime as well as from the Trudeau government—even when it opposed Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, which Harper supported. “The federal government has never thought to impose its political agenda on kids canvassing in B.C. on environmental issues,” Nagata said.
But in the House of Commons last Wednesday, Scheer was undeterred. “Does the prime minister not realize that paying groups to protest against these projects is exactly part of the problem?” he asked during Question Period.
“Unlike—apparently—the leader of the Official Opposition, we believe in free speech,” Trudeau replied. “We believe in advocacy on this side of the House.”
Labour Minister Patti Hajdu’s office said federal summer job grants go out to about 29,000 employers. “These workplaces will represent an enormous variety of industries, causes, and types of work, none of which are taken into account in the application process, so long as the employer can confirm that the core mandate does not undermine human rights,” said spokesperson Emily Harris.