On Oct. 17, a multi-billion-dollar corporation flexed its muscles against an environmental non-profit.
It was a blatant act of corporate bullying.
Pipeline operator Enbridge attempted to seize the assets of Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics) at its Vancouver office. While Enbridge had secured a court order to back up the attempted seizure, it’s clear the company’s approach was deliberately designed to silence and to intimidate.
The use of these tactics – and worse – has been the stock in trade of many fossil fuel companies in some parts of the world, but to see them deployed in Canada reveals just how desperate big oil is getting.
As our economy’s transition away from fossil fuels gains momentum, giant corporations – like Enbridge – are feeling their future and their power base slipping away.
The fact is Enbridge has repeatedly shown itself to be tone deaf to the concerns of British Columbians, which contributed to the cancellation of the Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers project.
Enbridge is clearly contemptuous of the right to free expression when it comes to those it sees as a threat to its business and profits.
Enbridge has 11,000 employees. Stand’s Vancouver office has five. It would take almost 13,000 Stands to equal Enbridge’s 2016 revenue of almost $35 billion.
So when Enbridge sends bailiffs to recover $14,000, it’s not about the money – it’s about intimidation and an attempt to silence legitimate voices of opposition.
The good news is that Enbridge backed down in the face of a social media and media uproar. But Enbridge’s actions are a chilling reminder that the fossil fuel industry is not responding well to the winds of change.
Agree or disagree with Stand – and there’s a legitimate debate to be had about how we confront the challenge of climate change – bullying and intimidation have no place in public debate.
Sierra Club BC