NGO’s, Politics and the Demise of the Grass Roots Revolution

by Heather Martin

Aug 14, 2013

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“This is an age of discouraged revolutionaries” – Alex Comfort (from Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State, 1950)

I have become, as Alex Comfort states, a discouraged revolutionary. This is as a result of my discovery that the grass-roots movements I had put my hopes into have been co-opted by political parties and NGO’s alike. The revolution, and I propose, the social evolution of humanity, has been co-opted by special interest groups masquerading as “hope and change”…”love and light”… all the while working towards chaos, darkness and oppression. I have become discouraged, because like most people involved in grass-roots movements I have a heart that hopes for a better world, but have eyes that have seen forces working towards their own endpoints, using US to do it.

In the past couple of years I’ve participated in rallies such as those protesting Bill C-38 and Bill C-45, I showed up at Occupy Saskatoon and conducted interviews, hoping to expose peoples’ opinions to a larger audience. I Marched Against Monsanto and supported Idle No More on FB and the internet.

At each event I’ve seen many of the same people show up… People like Sandra Finley who is very active and passionate about social issues, but who is also involved with the Green Party of Saskatchewan as is Larry Waldinger.

At the March Against Monsanto event in Saskatoon this past May, I knew that Sandra would be there (and expected Larry to also show up in an attempt to recruit new party members). I like Sandra, despite my disliking of the Green Party, and I admire her for standing up for what she believes in, and it makes sense for the Green Party to oppose Genetically Modified Organisms in the province that is the ‘breadbasket of the world’.

When I asked Sandra if she was there as a Green Party member or there as herself, she stated she was there as herself. Little did I know that earlier that week the Green Party organized a showing of The World According to Monsanto in Humboldt and had Percy Schmeiser come and speak about his experiences. What bothered me the most was not so much that the Green Party was putting on the show, but that Larry Waldinger opened the evening not by telling people of the perils of GMO’s, instead focused on asking the audience for $400 donations (calling it “the sweet spot”) and trying to extol the expected ‘return on your investment with the Green Party’! The worst of it was Larry’s statement that the Green Party would be making a substantial donation to the Saskatoon March Against Monsanto fund. Seriously? A fund? I have to ask what part of the March would have required subsidization except for the appearance of a portable microphone/speaker system and perhaps an honorarium for the emcee of the event? Those are things that would have been nice to know about ahead of time… and in retrospect it makes me wonder if there was money set aside for the March, who received it and how much did they get? Larry is in charge of the Green Party of Saskatchewan accounts, so I’m sure this will show up on the books, right?

This brings me to my next disappointment which was Jeh (pronounced Jay) Custerra. Jeh Custerra appeared at the march that morning as the aforementioned emcee looking a little too much like an undercover cop/provocateur. I’m sorry, but that was my first impression of him when he came up to me and asked me who the organizers were of the event. Something about him didn’t feel right. Perhaps it was his dark glasses on an overcast and rainy day? Maybe it was his notepad? Most likely it was his blatant attempt at resurrecting the ghosts of Occupy and Idle No More and the use of the word “solidarity” despite the March having nothing to do with any of those things. I asked some people there “who is this guy?” No one seemed to know.

jeh custerra

I decided to do a little investigation to find out who Jeh Custerra was and why he’d be involved in the March Against Monsanto. From reading other alternative journalists write about paid protestors, I wondered if Jeh Custerra might not be what some call a paid shill or activistocrat.

The 'Fake Blood' controversy surrounding Jeh Custer October, 2009
The ‘Fake Blood’ controversy surrounding Jeh Custer October, 2009

Turns out that Jeh Custerra is also Jey Custer, the ‘youth activist’ who was arrested on Parliament Hill for disrupting question period when Jack Layton was speaking about Bill-C224 (formerly Bill C311). Jeh was interviewed by Evan Solomon regarding the allegations that Custer faked his injuries and that he was there on behalf of any political party. It was called BloodyNoseGate by MSM journalists who ran with the story that somehow the NDP had orchestrated the whole thing. A few alternative media bloggers (such as Ben Powless of rabble.ca) who wrote about the ‘Young Activists’ as if they were somehow a happenstance group of concerned youth who wanted to raise awareness of environmental issues. In the video below you’ll see some of what was reported in the news that day.

Interesting that Elizabeth May decided to weigh in on the ‘youth of this country… speaking out for everyone’. Yet, when you watch the above video you will notice several things. Firstly, Jeh Custer (Custerra) is a member of the Sierra Club of Canada and is the organizations Energy Campaigner. In the clip you’ll also see Eriel Deranger (who I’ll get to later) and Joe Cressy (of the NDP party)….seen near the end of the clip leaving Parliament waiving his fist in the air and shouting. At the time Cressy denied he was a member of the NDP or that he was at the protest as a representative of the NDP. However, as a recent Sun Media interview confirms, it is blatantly clear that Cressy is still involved in NDP politics.

Joe Cressy at the NDP Federal Convention in 2009 - Says he's not NDP?
Joe Cressy at the NDP Federal Convention in 2009 – Nice NDP Lanyard!

Cressy is also involved with Polaris Institute and is the Campaigns Director for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. The Polaris Institute’s most active campaigns include Tarsands Watch and Inside the Bottle and includes the support of the Swamp-Line 9 barricade. One must wonder if Polaris Institute also supports tampering with rail lines and endorses convicted G20 violent protestors (as reported here) as part of it’s mandate:

“As its stated objective, Polaris is designed to enable citizen movements to re-skill and re-tool themselves to fight for democratic social change in an age of corporate driven globalization. Essentially, the Institute works with citizen movements in developing the kinds of strategies and tactics required to unmask and challenge the corporate power that is the driving force behind governments concerning public policy making on economic, social and environmental issues. In so doing, the Institute serves as a catalyst with constituency-based social movements, increasing their capacity to do their own strategic campaign planning on issues of vital concern to their members and allies. The work of Polaris with social movements is also carried out on both a national and an international basis.”

What is equally interesting is the statement made on the Swamp-Line 9 Tumblr page where it states:

“Protest actions are planned outside Enbridge offices and other key locations in a dozen cities across Canada in support of activists who took over a pumping station north of Hamilton, Ontario early Thursday morning. This action, dubbed Swamp Line 9, aims to prevent construction on Line 9 and block the transport of Tar Sands through Ontario and Quebec. This action is also part of the Idle No More campaign Sovereignty Summer.”

It’s not just the Oil, It’s the Water, Man!

Cressy, like Custer is deeply involved with the environmental movement to stop TarSands and pipeline projects alike. Cressy is a campaign organizer for Polaris Institute and it is interesting how much of what Polaris Institute and Sierra Club focuses on is issues affecting water. It is true that irresponsible mining, drilling and fracking practices threaten water resources and in that trickle down effect, threaten organic life in general. This is not the point being disputed here, what is important to recognize is that there are subtle forces in effect that are attempting to drive water as a resource out of privatization and into socialization. Privatization, the environmentalists argue means de-regulation…. it’s more government, not less that is the solution to the problem.

Contrary to what Polaris institute might have people believe, water is a renewable resource whose levels rise and fall in a cyclical pattern related to weather events. The Polaris Institutes report titled: Turning on Canada’s Taps, states that reservoirs are being depleted, yet fails to use statistically relevant data to support the claim that Canada is experiencing a water shortage:

“Already, according to documentation cited by the report, the Prairies are drying up, the South Saskatchewan River has declined by 80 per cent and other western and northern river systems are suffering.” – (I could not find the reference for this claim and due to the recent flooding in Calgary this past year, I can assure you the South Saskatchewan River has never been so high!)

I propose that what is really at stake here is not the environment, nor the quality or quantity of the water that flows within this country… it is about power, politics and homeland security.

Consider the following statement that since 9/11:

“Security for the United States goes beyond territorial or military considerations and encompasses strategic natural resources. First on the list are oil, gas, and water. In an unusually candid moment, in response to a question by the press, Bush declared that Canada’s water was part of the United States’ energy security.29 Water is being consumed in many parts of the United States at unsustainable rates. One notable example is the Ogallala aquifer located in the mid-west, one of the biggest in the world, presently being consumed 14 times faster than it can be replenished by rain.” – See more at: http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/1357#sthash.KHWgvsur.dpuf

The issue of bulk water sales does have a precedent here in Canada where:

“In the case of the Sun Belt Water Company, Sun Belt applied to export water from British Columbia. The Government of Canada denied their application under legislation enacted under intense pressure from the Council of Canadians, a non-governmental organization (NGO), to prohibit bulk-water sales. Sun Belt sued Canada and the Province of British Columbia for $600 million.” – WaterBank.com

The above paragraph is only partly correct in that the Government of Canada was forced to deny the application because Western Canada Water Enterprises had illegally been granted the bulk water deal, having to pay no fees, taxes or tariffs to do so. The Government had to save face and cover-up the scandal when Sun Belt and Aquasource filed a complaint under NAFTA rules. The company (WCW – run by Kevin Annett’s mother, Margaret Annett) remains in litigation and is regarded as the scandal that never hit the MSM because of the number of politicians, lawyers, judges and others who would have profited from the deal. To date few people know about the swindling of Canadian water that would have created a monopoly greasing the pockets of the elite and not the average joe. In this case NAFTA ensured fair trade and put a stop-gap to corruption.

The issue of water security is not about scarcity anymore than protesting the oilsands is about saving the environment…. it’s about Politicians using NGO’s and their activist trainees as ‘social change agents’ to get themselves whatever it is they want.

Case in point was Chief Theresa Spence, who co-opted Idle No More to achieve what? Her 15 minutes of fame? Has anyone been to Attawapiskat lately to see if life there has improved any? I suggest that her actions which sparked 439 protests that winter was useful in putting INM on the CSIS radar map.

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This brings me to yet another of my disappointments… Idle No More, which on deeper inspection has become just another arm of the octopus that is Agenda 21 and its’ removal of Native people from their land so as to plunder the resources for countries like China. This most excellent article on Idle No More and it’s co-opted-ness needs to be read to understand just who is really in charge here. I agree with the author in giving Native people here full autonomy, land rights and resource rights and freeing them from the oppressive boot of hand-outs and social programs. Teach a man to fish I say…. However, Agenda 21 has quite a different ‘agenda’ in store for both Natives and Non-Natives alike… you can read these awesome articles by Terry Wilson here and at Dissembling.org here.

healing walk

People are justified in their protest of the Tar Sands project…it’s their land… or rather Crown Land… perhaps there’s some details in the signing of those treaty’s that needs to be revisited. A Healing Walk is a good thing, provided it’s being done by those needing the healing, those whose lives are affected by such things and those Ally’s who support them…. certainly not by those NGO’s seeking to score points for their political handlers and not under a banner that has gone from grass-roots to trademark.

The founders of Idle No More (who include Priscilla Settee) have worked to better the lives of people impoverished, marginalized and driven to the brink of destruction. Settee has been a scholar of food sovereignty, Native Womens rights and environmental activism. It is unclear what the motives are of sponsoring Sierra Club campaigners to attend resistance training in Mexico, let alone making Idle No More a trademark of a capitalist and colonial type system. Have they lost their vision and become like the Kevin Annett’s of this world, obsessed with blinders on, in pursuit of the final objective at any and all costs? If Agenda 21 becomes fully implemented, will there be those within Idle No More willing to sacrifice their principles just to come out on top?

dead children 2

Conclusion

It is not that Jeh is a bad person, I do not believe that he is an evil person. Caring about our environment is an idea whose time is long overdue and I freely admit that there is little being done to provide alternatives to our energy consumption needs that can sustain us cleanly into the future. The prospect of a Utopia where we can all live in Hobbit houses and live off the land in a compassionate and healthy society is something I know I will never see. Yet it is something I’ve fought for… not for myself, but for my children and my children’s children. I’m sure that Jeh believes that too. But what makes the great leaders and stewards of our young people is their ability to not only inspire, but to do so in a transparent and accountable manner and those great leaders have done so in the spirit of PEACE.

How has Jeh emulated this as a Youth Conference leader? He’s changed his name from Custer to Custerra (loose the spy vs. spy glasses and own your sh*t, man!), and possibly exaggerated the severity of his ‘injuries’ at the clearly orchestrated and NDP directed protest. He has attempted to mesh Occupy and Idle No More into the March Against Monsanto and has perhaps used the Green Party to do so… (or perhaps it was a mutual agreement)? In the most worst case scenario, Jeh is part of a network of activistocrats set loose upon the naive masses in an attempt to create a revolution. There’s an Anarchists Playbook out there somewhere to be sure….Also, If we look at Jeh’s friend list, many of the same people with links to TIDES Foundation, Ruckus Society, and George Soros are there. Greg Renouf, Undercover Kitty (meow!) and others have exposed the likes of Zoe Blunt, Alex Hundert, Sakura Saunders, Eriel Deranger and others who continue to show up at any and all protests to shout F*CK the Police! and cause destruction of property. It’s clear that Jeh is a disappointed revolutionary as well:

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Some of Jeh’s FB friends:
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Lastly I submit a screenshot taken of Eriel Deranger standing behind Jeh in the detention area after his arrest in the gallery of Parliament. How much of a co-incidence that Joe Cressy, Eriel Deranger (Love is the Movement) and Jeh Custerra just happened to be at Parliament Hill that day, and an even greater co-incidence that they met with senior NDP staff/Jim Prentice prior to their disruption and ejection. If you don’t smell a rat by now, then maybe YOUR nose is broken.

Eriel Deranger - Love is the Movement - standing guard over the bloodied Jeh Custer
Eriel Deranger – Love is the Movement – standing guard over the bloodied Jeh Custer

Jeh Custer and others meeting with Jim Prentice prior to the Gallery protest.
Jeh Custer and others meeting with Jim Prentice prior to the Gallery protest.

Stay tuned for more as Sovereignty Summer and the TarSands debate continue…

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