Highway protest taking bold new step

Nigel Armstrong
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Meeting hears of direct nonviolence action

Wilma van der Veen, a sociologist at Saint Mary's University in Halifax sits with organizer Tony Reddin, at a meeting held to discuss non-violent citizen action regarding the Plan B highway project.

There is a sense that Plan B protesting is about to ramp up to a fight the likes of which hasn't been seen much on P.E.I.

A meeting in Cornwall Wednesday drew close to 100 people who heard powerful words and phrases like courage, infiltration, wire-taps, solidarity, training in consensus decisions and even "what's the use."

Wilma van der Veen from St. Mary's University in Halifax was guest speaker for the meeting that bore the title Direct Non-violent Citizen Action- Keeping within the Law.

She said non-violence can range from attending a rally concerning one issue, to a life-governing philosophy. To be effective it must be approached with care, she said.

"People can get hurt, people can die," she said at one point in her presentation.

She stressed the need for each person to look inward and ask questions like how far are you willing to go or how long are you willing to fight.

"Even thinking about your own life, about how you want to engage with other people," said van der Veen. "What role do you want to play? You don't have to put yourself in harm's way."

High risk protesters need lots of people supporting them, helping out, she said.

Be careful warned James Rodd, former head of the National Farmers Union on P.E.I. He drew attention to the 1971 farmer's protest that saw a blockade of Island highways by farm tractors.

"The RCMP and others infiltrated the group and wire-tapped, and so on and so forth," he said. "Our next meetings, I would like to see everyone sign in and the one that is seated beside you, on both sides, that you know them or if you don't know them, you find out because it's that kind of a protest we are up against, I believe."

That prompted van der Veen to acknowledge too, the possibility of agent provocateurs planted to turn an action violent or illegal so that public opinion turns against the cause.

Tony Reddin was master of ceremonies for the meeting. He suggested that smaller groups start to form and meet this weekend to plan their actions.

Van der Veen stressed the need for planning, setting goals, developing a strategy and training. Consensus decisions, for example, require technique to achieve.

"It's a process that people need to be trained in," said van der Veen. "It's not about let's all come to a consensus and we all agree on one thing. That would be really easy.

"You can do workshops on nonviolent communication so I highly recommend that," said van der Veen.

Why bother, asked Brendon McGinn.

"It would seem to me that we have been protesting through the media of one type or another for over a year on a continuous basis," said McGinn. "Nothing happens. They don't listen."

"I think a lot of what we have been doing is building up to showing that we followed every normal process . . . and are not being listened to, and that justifies and I think it really shows that there is good reason to both mount a legal case and to mount some sort of direct action to really get the ears of those that are making decisions," said Reddin.

"So far we have had good success in making sure things are well organized and sometimes it seems like we have angels that are helping us," he said.

Organizations: St. Mary's University in Halifax, National Farmers Union on P.E.I., RCMP

Geographic location: Cornwall, Iceland

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Recent comments

  • maddock
    October 15, 2012 - 10:41

    Let me not to the martyrdom of politicians and protesters admit impedimence.

  • Stormy Hatch
    September 24, 2012 - 08:06

    To No Intention - Good point about a confidence vote. However, in view of the fact that dear leader Ghiz has just recently prorogued the next legislative session to November 13th, for Plan B it'll be too late! Is anyone else outraged or concerned about this latest dirty trick used by the Ghiz to circumvent democracy? I still remember how outraged we all were when Harper used proroguing to stay in power a few years back.

  • Movie critic
    September 14, 2012 - 08:53

    Years ago the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a very low budget film was released and made huge profits. Now, in Strathgartney Park the Island Chainsaw Massacre is in the works; it's directed by Robert Ghiz and produced by backroom construction bosses who don't care a hoot for the natural wonder of PEI. But this is no low budget undertaking - it's an extremely expensive movie with terrible actors like Robert Vessey and Janice Sherry in the lead roles. It’s a B movie that most Islanders don’t want to see made. It’s a scary scenario. It is scary because our environment is being amputated and there is no “mitigation” that can excuse this loss. Island natural areas such as the proposed Plan B route must be treasured for what they are, not cut up to provide a profit for contractors.

  • S
    September 14, 2012 - 07:59

    There is a huge misconception that the only people opposed to Plan B are all "hippies" looking to make a fuss. The reality is, this is a group of people from every walk of life who don't want to see PEI waste more money on something that we can't afford. For me it's not about saving some trees, it is about our government making cuts to valuable programs while spending money on unneeded projects. The highway does not make sense. Look at all of the facts. It is a make-work project to grab a few federal dollars. Sadly, it is only the people who get stereotyped as hippies and tree huggers who are willing to stand up and try to make the change. If every person who does not agree with the need for this highway wrote a letter to the premier's office there would be many more than 250. It is time to stop complaining in the background and time to step up!

  • jr
    September 13, 2012 - 20:32


    • wake up
      September 16, 2012 - 08:00

      PNP is over with, once Ghiz signed up for the HST, it was wipe away an that is why the Federal investigation was closed.

  • dan
    September 13, 2012 - 19:22

    This is what it takes to get Islanders up in arms?! How about years of fiscal mismanagement? What about the legions of unemployed who would rather stay on the Island then head to Alberta?

  • miss bonshaw
    September 13, 2012 - 17:42

    what a joke, whoever gets to run the bulldozer should just push one of the 100 year old tree up the st catherines road and let tony reddin live in it. and the rest will make great paper to draft up the new highway around crapaud! Bring on the equipment vessey!

    • The cost
      September 13, 2012 - 20:57

      Miss Bon Shaw - how do you think the province is going to pay for such an expensive project???

    • Best Comment Ever
      September 13, 2012 - 21:35

      And build a pond around the tree for the loons to nest in.

  • Island Boy
    September 13, 2012 - 17:38

    Ghiz got the NAME but NOT THE GAME!

  • hanky panky
    September 13, 2012 - 17:26

    Stewart, what kind of a cat are you, anyway? If it was not for people from away you would still be living in mudd hallows. Glad you don't speak for most Islanders. PLAN B is the pits and everybody knows it. Because Ghiz will not engage in a dialog with the people, everybody feels something crookd is in this. Come cean GHIZ.

  • Tired
    September 13, 2012 - 17:23

    I don't know whether I am for or against Plan B but I am tired of hearing about it. I bet there are many Islanders who feel that way!

    • Wake up
      September 13, 2012 - 21:06

      Tired? I'm sure you'll wake up when we all have to pay for this lunacy......

  • By Jove He's Letting Us Eat Cake, he is
    September 13, 2012 - 17:02

    One tree in Brighton for each tree in the hills of Bonshaw...in the name of safety of course...

  • Donny
    September 13, 2012 - 16:51

    YOU DO NOT REPRESENT ALL ISLANDERS You represent 4.36% of Islanders... the same amount that voted for the Green Party in 2011. YOU LOST, GET OVER IT!

    • It's not just about hugging trees
      September 13, 2012 - 21:10

      Donny - why would you be in favour of a project that likely will bankrupt the Island for very little benefit??

  • Anna Fraser
    September 13, 2012 - 16:49

    The difference between Plan B opposers and supporters is largely by the former rudeness and obviously any interest in understanding the issues at staKe. Dollars disappear. The change to the topography as presented by Plan B will scar PEI's charm, tranquility, soul satisfaction aesthetically speaking forever. No contest. It is understandable the desire to have a significant job when unemployed. That's where the government needs more job-training targeted to those seeking satisfactory work that will enhance the industrial sector of our as yet beautiful province. Such programs would cost much less than the $12.000,000 plus cost overruns already being tapped for takeovers of private property.

  • Piet Hein
    September 13, 2012 - 16:38

    David, you are naive to think that everyone who opposes the highway attend the meetings. I oppose the highway, but the last thing I want is to go to a stuffy hall and listen to speaker after speaker preach to the converted. I will sign petitions and will probably go to the construction zone to protest , but just because I don't attend meetings it does not mean I cannot be counted as opposed to the project. By the way, if as you and others seem to think there are many more Islanders in favour of the road, where are their voices?

  • Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
    September 13, 2012 - 15:52

    Stewart, ..really? Are you serious? You can't be. Maybe someone can check birth certificates on a protest line! lol

  • Stewart
    September 13, 2012 - 13:57

    I wonder how many of the so called protestors are either sons or daughters of former US Draft Dodgers or for that matter how many of them were even born in PEI?

    • Morehouse
      September 13, 2012 - 15:55

      Dirty Peaceniks!!!!

    • Do something
      September 13, 2012 - 16:20

      Who cares where people are born? Do people born in a province have more right to voice an opinion or make an effort than other residents who are affected by the same things? The only difference I see is that CFAs aren't so easily bullied or fooled or paralyzed by the tangled web of corruption. They aren't afraid to stand up. I see lots of people saying "good for the protesters", but many of them are too afraid to do anything themselves.

    • Piet Hein
      September 13, 2012 - 16:23

      Stewart, that sounds like a Scottish name. I bet you were not born in P.E.I so you have no right to post comments on this website.

    • Bill "Dobby" Dobdson
      September 13, 2012 - 16:30

      Of course Stewart is not serious. He is just a troll and trolls by the way are European legends. That means Scott is not an Islander and should not be allowed to express an opinion on the protest.

    September 13, 2012 - 13:37

    Patti: Your comments were very interesting,and I am glad you aired your views. Many,many people have seen and heare a lot of what you have mentioned. It is a real shame ror the Vesseys.

  • Peter Llewellyn
    September 13, 2012 - 12:53

    Civil disobedience, ----------------in the face of, corruption, patronage, arrogance, mismanagement, lies and incompetence. Is this the line in the sand to send a message ????? if this is to be Islanders line in the Sand then I am in . I love my Island and my town but in all truth I have had enough ----- Keep us up dated and I will see you on the line !!!!

  • no intention
    September 13, 2012 - 12:41

    I saw a while back that there was alot of extra gravel being hauled from the barge....this was during a time when this highway was being protested.....the signs are there that the Goverment had no intention of listening to you.....this was set to go from the start...the deals were already made and the money already spent. Having you vote and discuss was simply due process as they were not ASKING for your permission.....they were politely TELLING you that this was a go and what you thought......really doesnt matter to them. I think its a huge waste of money by the goverment to change this road....especially during a time when so many cuts are made to important programs affecting loss of jobs....the people of PEI have already stated that they dont want it......and I think that a vote of non-confidence to get Ghiz out of goverment today is the only way to stop it.. An opposition member may call for a vote of non-confidence against the government. If this vote passes, the government is said to have lost the confidence of the house and usually resigns.....there may be other ways but this seems to fit what everyone wants to do "legally" to the guy.

  • Tim
    September 13, 2012 - 12:19

    Build it already.

  • Highway through bs
    September 13, 2012 - 11:19

    Is this the new PNP story? I heard they are hiding all those "files" under the new highway

  • agm
    September 13, 2012 - 11:18

    I have not before been writing on this subject, but I have to express my gratitude to these people keeping this fight going. I will be there where I can, this Government should not get away with ignoring peoples wishes. If they are in doubt about the opposition, hold a plebicite and be assured, that this it no something the population wants .

  • Road Block coming
    September 13, 2012 - 11:18

    I hope they block the highways and show remind the government who is elected them. I may even go help if needed!

  • bobmcewen
    September 13, 2012 - 11:16

    Great meeting last night, --- thank you to all that organized it and those who came out. We have to stand together on this, there is still time, - I have hopes that the Premier and his MLAs see the merit in the opposition and realize that this time the people know best. There is honor in recognizing your mistakes and the PREMIER would be just that, honorable, if he reserved this project. Meanwhile, let's stand together all the way . ---

  • Island voter
    September 13, 2012 - 10:51

    Another protest headline story ment to keep this small group's interest in the forefront. Only 100 people show up and now James Rodd is talking conspiracy. Talk about self important! 100 people is not even a good minority. O.K., we get it! This group is against the proposed Plan B Highway; but from the low turnout it would appear that a majority of islanders are for the highway improvement or couldn't care enough to bother. In our society, majority rules. Lets move on... happy motoring

  • Jacinta
    September 13, 2012 - 10:23

    You go guys wishing you luck, Government has forgotten who hired and pays their wages. It is time they are reminded in a way they will not forget

    • concerned
      September 13, 2012 - 11:01

      yes it would be really nice to bring this non responsive Government to it's knees they really are just walking all over Islanders and it's about time we took notice of this and started fighting back , and putting our money back into our pockets because they are spending it where it doesn't belong and with out our input and against what we want , please remember for next election

  • Craig from Kings
    September 13, 2012 - 10:07

    Whats more important.....peoples lives or the environment????? The sooner this project is done the better

    • Yes, but.......
      September 13, 2012 - 14:25

      Craig - I agree with you, except that the gov't can't prove that this is such a dangerous piece of road that it needs to be totally rerouted at vast expense to our almost-bankrupt province. The existing road could be widened and the curves could be smoothed out without all this disruption.

  • Randycampbell
    September 13, 2012 - 09:50

    This is really inspiring. It's great to see the tyranny of Ghiz bring out the some examples of true democracy in our community. It's too bad it has had to come this far though.

  • patty
    September 13, 2012 - 09:47

    why dont the people that are against plan b hire a enviromentalist to do an assessment for us who says there is honest as i entertained some out of province company for lunch the other day at the pilot house robert vessey and his buddies i believe had the plan b map laid out on two tables having a great laugh it must have been the guys that were going to go and take the land of some poor person who worked all his life to have what he has i use to think that the vesseys were nice people but robert is sure ruining their name the meeting over lunch was actually very loud laughin and carrying on i suppose us as tax payers paid for all these lunches why are these issues being discussed out side the ministers office it gave me a poor appetite and mr vessey could not even look me in the eye it must be awful to have to keep your head down in guilt and maybe the pilot house should be careful who has meetings at their tables its a real turn off

    • Digraceful
      September 13, 2012 - 14:10

      Patty - it's a shame you didn't video them on your phone and post it on YouTube - it would heve been very interesting to see and would heve given more evidence of arrogant crookedness to the growing number of ordinary, previously-not-very-poilitical inhabitants of this Island.

    • Really?
      September 13, 2012 - 14:20

      Stewart - your xenophobia shows your ignorance. If you took the trouble to check out the protesters you'd see plenty of native Islanders as well a CFA's and many, many people from all walks of life. I wonder how many of the supporters of Plan B work for the contractors who stand to make lots of lovely money from this project.

    • Bob Hossan
      September 13, 2012 - 16:42

      Yeah Patty, I just bet you did.

    • Ad Hoc
      September 13, 2012 - 18:16

      Hey Patty; The Vesseys are nice people, but you what they say; one bad apple and all that stuff.

  • the it to the street of Ghiz home
    September 13, 2012 - 09:41

    Effective protest takes conviction and consistency. Islanders need to wake up to some really disgusting circumstances we are in because the Islanders have let the two party system bilk us and enrich the lawyers and accountants. Put 500 people in front of Ghiz's home every day till he stops and listens.

  • lori patriquen
    September 13, 2012 - 09:36

    Oh My God......

  • What is the government thinking
    September 13, 2012 - 09:28

    What is this government thinking. Very few people support this Highway scheme. Those opposed to the scheme are just ordinary Islanders, mostly middle aged. And the degree to which the public is opposed to this project is now taken a Civil Disobedience turn. God bless those that are planning to follow Ghandi and King in bringing Civil disobedience to bear on the Ghiz Regime.

    • David
      September 13, 2012 - 14:00

      I am just curious where these people get their numbers that very few people support the highway. So far I have only seen at the most 200 people at any protest against the highway. I don't get where these protestors get their numbers when did 200 translate into the majority of 140,000?

    • Numbers?
      September 13, 2012 - 14:34

      David - there are about 1300 people who have joined the Facebook group against Plan B and many more who prefer to remain anonymous are also opposing the project. Over 250 people took the time to write to the gov't about the environmental impact assessment - and it's generally reckoned that 1 letter is equal to 1000 voters who feel the same way but don't get around to writing.

    • Ad Hoc
      September 13, 2012 - 18:11

      Hey David; how many people were at your meeting of the group that supports Plan B? Just as I thought...........nobody except you and a few chirping crickets, and the crickets are soon going to be looking for a new home.

    • Ad Hoc
      September 13, 2012 - 18:23

      Everything old is new again!

  • Concerned Citizen
    September 13, 2012 - 09:24

    You people opposed to Plan B have faught an uphill battle for over a year and the powers to be are ignoring all of you in ways theyeall choose to do. Don't be intimidated by the so called educated higher ups, the right word for most of them is Political hacks. From what I have been reading you are all fine people , with good common sense and can see a grave mismanagement of Taxpayers dollars being spent here, we all know the Ghiz crew are only after one thing, the Federal money estimated at $8 million, they will than fill there pockets and the pockets of their so called friends, than put the remainder on their screwed up fiscal budget plan to make themselves look like they really care. Keep forging ahead and may you have the foritude and strenght to carry on in hopes Justice will be done, Justice and common sense is something this governmant is lacking big time. Good Luck to you all.

  • Tom Ace
    September 13, 2012 - 09:18

    Wow... how stoned are they?