Keystone XL protests: Two letters from Anthony Ketchum

Below are two testimonials from Anthony Ketchum -- a report and an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama -- from the Keystone XL pipeline / tar sands protests in Ottawa on September 26th, 2011.


The Advance of the 212

It was a beautiful day on Parliament Hill when all of a not-quite-sudden, legions of RCMP officers appeared behind a 3' high fence.

Undaunted, 212 protesters from the huge crowd of cheering supporters formed into 'waves' of six, holding each other's outstretched arms.

Forward they marched, wave upon wave, scaling the fence until they were face to face with the uniformed RCMP officers.

Meanwhile, the over 500 supporters behind them shouted and cheered in full voice with each of the 33 'waves' of citizens as they advanced to the fence.

Along the 150 yards of fence the supporters took hundreds of photos of us and passed food and water, apples, sunscreen, snacks etc. to the weary 'trespassers' (in their own Parliament) as they sat in the blazing sun, hour after hour.

But the greatest cheers came when those over the fence were marched off in handcuffs to be searched, checked for criminal records and otherwise 'processed'. Shouts and cheers and clapping, whistling, etc. resounded over the Hill as the handcuffed 'prisoners' were marched away.

However, the greatest discomfort, apart from the hours sitting on the grass, was travelling in the very small 'cage' in the paddy wagon before the occupants were dropped off, quite disoriented, on a downtown Ottawa street.

We all received a trespassing fine of $65 from the Ottawa police, along with a condition that if we should be found on the Hill in the next 12 months, we will be jailed, taken to court, and fined $2000:00. But the Ottawa police do not have jurisdiction on Parliament Hill - which, in any case belongs to us all as citizens ? How can the RCMP and Ottawa Police legally do that?? We have 30 days to pay the $65 fine. Perhaps it's not worth going to Ottawa again to appear in court.

It was only 212 citizens on Monday. What will it be next time, and in how many different communities around the world? Will our grandchildren's generation carry the torch before it's too late?

-- Anthony Ketchum


Why I am prepared to be arrested in Ottawa on Sept. 26th

I am a grandfather, 74 years old, a member of forourgrandchildren.ca, a group of grandparents who are deeply concerned about the effects of climate change on our grandchildren's lives.

Climate Change is so serious that already the loss of 50% of species seems unavoidable. James Hansen, the world's foremost climatologist, says if we burn even half of the earth's remaining fossil fuels, the planet will be destroyed as we know it. And his exhaustive examination of ice cores has shown that in the past the climate has 'flipped' in less that a decade - a change of 18 degrees F .

I am going to Ottawa to protest the continued expansion of the Tar Sands, an area the size of England, which will make it impossible for Canadians to meet the Copenhagen accord (I was present in Copenhagen).

We live on a finite planet; we cannot keep fuelling our growth economy with more and more fossil fuels. We are committing crimes against future generations, and we simply must change, just as we did so successfully for World War II ( which I remember vividly).

There is still hope. That is why I will be acting in Civil Disobedience at Parliament in Ottawa on Sept. 26th.

The grandparents' 9 min.video is at VIMEO.com/27986012.

Anthony Ketchum is Chair of The Living City Foundation, and past member of Toronto Region Conservation.