In July 2020, Environmental Defence issued a paper entitled “Not Just a Canadian Phenomenon: Citizen opposition to oil and gas production around the world.” The objective of their document seems to be to try and draw a parallel between citizen protests in various countries against local oil/gas/coal/fracking concerns, and those of the Tar Sands Campaign in Canada. Environmental Defence implies that there is nothing unique about the decades-long Tar Sands Campaign against the Alberta oil sands. This report will disabuse the public of that notion. According to the Tar Sands Campaign documents, it appears to be unique in the world, well-funded, well-strategized, well-coordinated – in short, whether intended as such or not, the outcome is a ‘green’ trade war against Canada by various players and other opportunists.

In most Western democracies, republics, or constitutional monarchies (like Canada), citizens have a legal right, enshrined in law, to peacefully protest.


  1. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
    • (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
    • (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
    • (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
    • (d) freedom of association.

Section 2(c) guarantees the right to peaceful assembly; it does not protect riots and gatherings that seriously disturb the peace: R. v. Lecompte, [2000] J.Q. No. 2452 (Que. C.A.). It has been stated that the right to freedom of assembly, along with freedom of expression, does not include the right to physically impede or blockade lawful activities: Guelph (City) v. Soltys, [2009] O.J. No. 3369 (Ont. Sup. Ct. Jus), at paragraph 26. (bold added)

The Tar Sands Campaign has not been about peaceful protests by individuals. According to Tar Sands Campaign documents, it has been about an internationally strategized and partially foreign-funded campaign to denigrate the reputation of the Alberta oil sands, to drive up costs, to drive off investors, to add more regulation, to block and delay infrastructure and energy development through law suits and coordinated group actions against legally authorized development projects. That is the difference between a protest and a trade war that Environmental Defence fails to clarify, and no wonder. According to this power point, Environmental Defence is part of the Tar Sands Campaign.