Working Hard to Safeguard Paddling Assets for All Canadians

All about Whitewater

All about Whitewater
A Blog about River Preservation and the need to protect our free flowing whitewater resources

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sierra Club ponder Civil Disobedience ? when the social contract is broken, the people MUST revolt

CD or not CD, that is the question...

It’s been hot in the driver seat since I talked to the Vancouver Sunabout Sierra Club USA’s decision to lift its 120-year old ban on civil disobedience for the upcoming (Feb. 17th) rally against the Keystone Pipeline in Washington, DC. “Will Sierra Club Canada take similar action?”, I was asked by a reporter almost immediately after the news broke.
Although this has been a major topic of discussion for some time (on both sides of the border), the Great White North was caught off guard by the controversial announcement in San Francisco. Since its inception in 1892, Sierra Club has campaigned for the preservation of our natural environment using lawful means only. It’s a big deal!
So I am, again, turning to you for help – you have an opportunity to participate in what could be a historic decision for Sierra Club Canada (see survey link below).
Personally, I am no stranger to the concept of direct action and non-violent civil disobedience, but it has been 30 years since I deliberately broke a law to draw attention to an important issue. I have grown to believe it’s used far too often to achieve the desired impact on public debate. So for many years, I, like Sierra Club, have followed a legal course of what I call “technical” campaigning.
We research issues and solutions to ensure our policies and solutions are based on sound science and are sustainable and economically desirable. Then using the media and person-to-person contact, we first try to impact public opinion, and then to persuade government and industry to act. Like dozens of other public interest organizations, we also sometimes use stunts and other attention-grabbing techniques to break through the noise - it’s an effective technique (coal plants in Ontario are being shut down because of it and Agent Orange and a broad range of toxic substances are banned because of it).

The campaign of our lives

More than twenty years ago I was in a stuffy meeting room in The Netherlands when a professor from East Anglia University’s Climate Centre explained the phenomenon of “Global Warming” (and what it meant for humanity). He was followed by an energy expert who explained how -- through conservation, efficiency and renewable resources -- humanity could continue to prosper while drastically reducing greenhouse gasses. Shortly afterwards the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) was ratified and nearly 200 nations began work on a treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It was shortly after this that I came to Ottawa with a single mission: “Your job,” Elizabeth May told me on my first day working at Sierra Club, “is to convince Canada to ratify the Kyoto Protocol”. With a lot of help we got it done.
So why after all that -- what could arguably be called the largest and most successful technicalenvironmental campaign in history -- are emissions up 50% since 1990? Why does neither Canada nor the United States have a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Did we do something wrong? Have we failed to explain the consequences of climate change? The polls say no (last time I talked to a pollster I was told we had better numbers than any other public interest campaign). As Stephen Stills sang, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.”

Democracy or demockery

Democracy is more than just voting once every four years. When elected governments ignore the will -- and rights -- of its people, real democracy requires us to do more. Governments, no matter how many votes they garner, have a responsibility to respect the natural rights of its all citizens and, in Canada, that means our sovereign First Nations too. But shouldn’t there also be a right to protect future generations (or “seven generations”)?
In response to the climate crisis, the current government (elected by less than 40% of those who even voted) has chosen to back Big Oil and ignore science and public opinion. Instead of a seven generationsapproach they responded with a massive public relations campaign (paid for by taxpayers), and changing laws to bar future public participation in decisions than impact the environment (e.g. pipelines). It’s worth noting that recently revealeddocuments show that each and every one of the changes to environmental law contained in recent omnibus legislation were dictated by the energy industry while the voices of every environmental organization in the country (representing millions of Canadians) were simply ignored.
The attitude of the government can be summed-up best by a statement made by Mike Harrisshortly after he was elected in 1995: “No blade of grass will be untrampled at Queen's Park,” he boasted. Today, too, the Harper government has made its intention loud and clear: public opinion is meaningless and good policy is out the window; Ideology trumps all.
Repeatedly throughout the 20th century, people were forced to stand up to ideologues - often at great peril to themselves. People like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. stood up to duly elected governments and demanded action using civil disobedience – it’s not a novel, or radical, idea. Nelson Mandela spent 28 years in prison for opposing government policy. These are the people who come to mind when the discussion turns to civil disobedience.

Back of the bus or block the bus?

In the United States the Club has chosen to take up civil disobedience in opposition to the Keystone Pipeline – a line in the sand, as it were. While we believe we are a uniquely democratic environmental organization, we do share many of their concerns and considerations.
So where do we go from here?
Do we keep doing the same thing over and over – do we just go sit at the back of the bus? Or would civil disobedience make a difference? I really don’t know. With a heavy heart I am turning to you for wisdom and to help inform our decision.
We’ve created a short and simple survey and are hoping you will (PLEASE!) fill it out today! It will only take two minutes and would really mean a lot to us! You were very helpful a couple of years ago in helping us define our role in the federal election, and we could really use your help again.


Thanks for your encouragement and ongoing support!
Yours sincerely,
John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada
412-1 Nicholas Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 7B7
John on Twitter / Bennett Blog

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Canadian Rivers

Canadian Rivers
I speak for river users too!

The Queen is not amused!

The Queen is not amused!

The Damned Dam - 2005 -

The Damned Dam - 2005 -
22nd Annual Kipaw Rally has modest turnout. - 23rd does better

The Ashlu river: it could happen to you

The Ashlu river: it could happen to you

Whitewater Ontario

Whitewater Ontario
Working Hard to Protect Canada's Paddling Resources

Whitewater Ontario - Mission Statement

It is Whitewater Ontario’s mission to support the whitewater paddling community through the promotion, development and growth of the sport in its various disciplines. We accomplish this through the development of events, resources, clubs, and programs for personal and athletic development, regardless of skill level or focus, to ensure a high standard of safety and competency; We advocate safe and environmentally responsible access and use of Ontario’s rivers. Whitewater Ontario is the sport governing body in the province, and represents provincial interests within the national body Whitewater Canada and the Canadian Canoe Association

Kipawa, Tabaret, and Opemican

Kipawa, Tabaret, and Opemican
If Hydro Quebec is not actively pursuing Tabaret what is that bite out of Opemican for?

Kipawa Dam: After

Kipawa Dam: After
Laniel Dam at 2006 Rally

Where is the Kipawa

Where is the Kipawa
Kipawa flows into lake Temiskamingue, running from Kipawa Lake, under hwy 101 in Quebec

Kipawa Dam

Kipawa Dam
laniel dam at 2004 River Rally

Tabaret is a Bad Idea

About the Kipawa

The best thing paddlers can do to help the cause of the Kipawa:

1. attend the rally and bring others including non paddlers to attend and buy beer and have fun

2. write your MP /MNA and raise the issue and post your objections -1 letter = 200 who didn't write

3. Write Thierry Vandal the CEO of Hydro Quebec strongly opposing the 132 MW standard decrying the use of "diversion" as the most environmentally inappropriate method of power production

4. Write Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec protesting that either the algonquin or the tabaret project will eliminate all other values on the Kipawa River by turning it into a dry gulch.

5. See if you can get other allied groups interested by showing your own interest, ie the Sierra Defense Fund, Earthwild, MEC, and so on.

6. Demand further consultation

7. Currently we are at the point where we need to sway public opinion and raise awareness.

However, if all else fails, don't get mad, simply disrupt, foment, and protest . The Monkey Wrench Gang.

Have you read Edward Abbey?

Important Addresses
CEO,Hydro Québec, 75 boul René Levesque, Montreal, P.Q., H2Z

Tabaret is a Bad Idea (Part Two)

Les Amis de la Riviere Kipawa is poised to use an application to the Federal Court to issue a Writ of Mandamus to ensure the Minster does what he is supposed to do, protect the public's right to navigate the water control structure at Laniel, Quebec using the Navigable Waters Protection Act. (see

In the now gutted Navigable Waters Protection Act lay the means by which the Minister of Transport could keep the public right of passage down our great Canadian Heritage, our rivers and streams which are threatened especially by resource corporations and power brokers such as Hydro Quebec.

These powerful entities continue to petition that 'this' river or 'that' stream is not navigable and therefore not protectable.
I don't say that dams and bridges should not be built, only that if they are, historical navigation rights should be considered and preserved by making reasonable accommodations for recreational boaters.

It is the Minister of Transport, in exercising the right to allow or disallow work on or over a navigable waterway is what keeps boats and recreational boaters plying our waterways.

To many recent cases launched in the Federal Court concerning the Navigable Waters Protection Act, most recently the case of the Humber Environment Group of Cornerbrook Newfoundland versus the Cornerbrook Pulp and Paper Company indicates that the important oversight is not being faithfully performed. Have we really come to the point now where we must say "such and such a stream is one foot deep, possessing so many cubic feet per second flow and so on?" The answer to this is... YES!

The honourable Mr. Justice John A. O'Keefe, ruled that it had not been shown that the river was navigable. How convenient was that to the Minister? But either the Minister of Transport acts to protect our rivers and streams as a public right or he does not and that means rivers and streams currently enjoyed by kayakers and canoists.

Enough of the cheating, and double-talk. Canadians! our rivers and streams are our own, lets urge the Minister of Transport and the our government to protect them.

Peter Karwacki

Tabaret is a Bad Idea (Part Three)

10 Reasons WhyTabaret is a Bad Idea1) Tabaret is too big. The station is designed to useevery drop of water available in the Kipawawatershed, but will run at only 44 percent capacity.We believe the Tabaret station is designed to usewater diverted from the Dumoine River into theKipawa watershed in the future. 2) The Tabaret project will eliminate the aquaticecosystem of the Kipawa River.The Tabaret project plan involves the diversion of a16-km section of the Kipawa River from its naturalstreambed into a new man-made outflow from LakeKipawa. 3) Tabaret will leave a large industrial footprint on thelandscape that will impact existing tourismoperations and eliminate future tourism potential. 4) The Tabaret project is an aggressive single-purposedevelopment, designed to maximize powergeneration at the expense of all other uses. 5) River-diversion, such as the Tabaret project, takinglarge amounts of water out of a river’s naturalstreambed and moving it to another place, is verydestructive to the natural environment. 6) The Kipawa River has been designated a protectedgreenspace in the region with severe limitations ondevelopment. This designation recognizes theecological, historical and natural heritage value ofthe river and the importance of protecting it.Tabaret will eliminate that value. 7) If necessary, there are other, smarter and morereasonable options for producing hydro power onthe Kipawa watershed. It is possible to build a lowimpactgenerating station on the Kipawa river, andmanage it as a “run-of-the-river” station, makinguse of natural flows while maintaining other values,with minimal impact on the environment. 8) The Kipawa watershed is a rich natural resource forthe Temiscaming Region, resonably close to largeurban areas, with huge untapped potential fortourism and recreation development in the future.Tabaret will severely reduce this potential. 9) Tabaret provides zero long-term economic benefitfor the region through employment. The plan is forthe station to be completely automated andremotely operated. 10) The Kipawa River is 12,000 years old. The riverwas here thousands of years before any peoplecame to the region. The Tabaret project will change all that.

Problems on a local River?

  • There is more to do as well but you have to do your research and above all, don't give up.
  • IN the meantime prepared a document itemizing the history of navigation of this spot and its recreational value. Use the Kipawa river history of navigation as a guide: see
  • Under the Ministry of Environment guidelines you have a set period of time to petition the change under the environmental bill of rights, you may have limited time to take this action. But it involves going to court for a judicial review of the decision.
  • 4. contact the ministry of natural resources officials and do the same thing.
  • 3. contact the ministry of the environment and determine if they approved the project
  • 2. determine if the dam was a legal dam, approved under the navigable waters protection act.
  • 1. research the decision and timing of it to determine if an environmental assessment was done.

Minden Ontario

Minden Ontario
Gull River Water control at Horseshoe lake

A History of Navigation on the Kipawa River

Prior to the environmental assessment there was no signage at the Laniel Dam

T-Shirts Area: These are available now!

T-Shirts Area: These are available now!
Send $25 and a stamped self addressed envelop for the Tshirt, and for the bumper sticker, a stamped and self addressed envelope with $5.00 for the bumper sticker to Les Amis de la rivière Kipawa, 80 Ontario St., Ottawa, Ontario, K1K 1K9 or click the link To purchase a Les Amis "T" contact Doug with the following information: Number of shirts:Sizes: Ship to Address: Method of Payment: cash, cheque and paypal, Shipto address:

Bumper Stickers Now Available

Bumper Stickers Now Available
Get your bumper sticker and show your support for the Kipawa Legal Fund ! - send $5.00 in a Stamped, self addressed envelope to: Peter Karwacki Box 39111, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1H 7X0