Sunday night, on the most watched television show in Quebec, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois — who is, in full disclosure, a weekly columnist for the French edition of Ricochet — announced he would be donating the $25,000 Governor General’s Literary Award he received for his first book, Tenir tête, to the fight against pipelines.
Nadeau-Dubois came to prominence as the spokesperson for most of the student movement during the historic 2012 student strike in Quebec. He is now an award-winning author who provides weekly analysis of Quebec politics on Radio-Canada (the French CBC) and in the pages of Ricochet.
Nadeau-Dubois made an appeal for Quebecers to match his donation through a crowdfunder launched concurrently with the show. He asked for $25,000.
In 24 hours, he raised almost $300,000 and counting. All of the money raised will be donated to Coule Pas Chez Nous, (It will not flow here), a coalition of regional community groups from all parts of Quebec. It will be used to help organize grassroots resistance to Energy East and the reversal of Line 9B (Quebec’s other incipient pipeline project).
Based on the dollars raised in the first 24 hours, it is the most successful crowdfunder in Canadian history. It is also a game changer in the fight against pipelines.
Are there emergency board meetings taking place in oil and gas companies today? Are overtime clocks running wild in the offices of PR firms across the land? Bet on it.
Alongside new polls showing over two-thirds of Quebecers oppose Energy East, 70 per cent oppose an oil port at Cacouna and a staggering 87 per cent think Quebec should have the right to refuse the Energy East pipeline that menaces their province, this outpouring of support shows that Quebec will not go gentle into that good night of climate catastrophe. Count on La Belle Province to, in the words of poet Dylan Thomas, rage, rage against the dying of the light.
That’s right, we said menace. The editorial position of this media outlet, unlike most other outlets in Canada, is to accept the work of the Nobel-prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Program and 97 per cent of all climate scientists. According to them, we must leave most of the tar sands oil, and other fossil fuels, in the soil to avoid catastrophic climate change.
We cannot do that if we build these pipelines. Not Northern Gateway, not Kinder Morgan, not Keystone XL and certainly not Energy East. It isn’t a question of picking the least worst pipeline, as Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau have framed it. We cannot allow even one to be built, not while staying within the carbon budget our scientists agree we must in order to stave off disaster.
Thankfully, although our politicians have proven themselves persistently obtuse when it comes to climate change, we the people get it.
On a mountain in Burnaby, where the arrest total hit 74 with the arrest of a 74 year-old woman named Della, people get it.
In the cornfields of Nebraska, across which the Keystone XL pipeline would tread, the people get it.
In B.C., where a years-long campaign has all but killed the Northern Gateway pipeline, people get it.
In all of these places, Indigenous peoples have taken real leadership roles in defending our planet. Because they get it.
And in a Montreal television studio, on an overcast November night, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois declared war on TransCanada. Because he gets it.
That feeling underfoot is the tide turning.