In a specifically Aboriginal perspective, Gord Hill (Zig Zag), a popular historian from the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, addresses the corporate pressure on native governance in Canada. The caption to one of his powerful political cartoons addressing land tenure and band councils, in the context of the Indian Act reads “All Hail the New Chief – Chief Executive Officer that is!.” In this powerful expression of the complexities and complicities of contemporary native land tenure and economic development, it seems to me, that Zig Zag has given us a universally applicable image of the assertion of corporate will within neo-liberal regimes, where pressure is brought to bear on individual elected leaders, and whole polities even, through inducements and deterrents both legal and illegal. In the SNC Lavalin debacle we have a case-in-point. Here an elected indigenous leader, not just of her own people but of all Canadians, the Attorney General of Canada, was allegedly put under pressure in service of Lavalin’s corporate good.
At the end of her testimony to the House of Commons justice committee the former Attorney General states “…my understanding of the rule of law has also been shaped by my experiences as an Indigenous person and as an Indigenous leader. The history of Crown-Indigenous relations in this country includes a history of the rule of law not being respected. Indeed, one of the main reasons for the urgent need for justice and reconciliation today is that, in the history of our country, we have not always upheld foundational values such as the rule of law in relations to Indigenous Peoples. And I have seen the negative impacts for freedom, equality and a just society this can have first-hand.” It is, clearly, this indigenous perspective she must have of the sustained and insidious mechanism of influence, the co-option and/or coercion by the few, of those who are elected to serve the many, that made it impossible for Jodi Wilson-Raybould not to put her foot down for the rule of law, on behalf of all Canadians!
The 20-million-gallon Lily Dam, one of the two unlicensed dams for which Progress Energy received retroactive exemption from environmental review. Photo by Ben Parfitt.
In an earlier post I had noted that Progress Energy, now known as PETRONAS Canada had been accused of building two massive unlicensed dams in violation of provincial environmental regulations. It has since been reported that that British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) allowed these massive unauthorized dams to be exempt from environmental assessments. According to Ben Parfaitt in Policy Note these dams had previously been described in internal documents of the very same EAO as being ‘illegal works’. This is a disturbing precedent because there are other unlicensed dams in the gas fields of Northern BC that stand to be given the same kind of retrospective exemption. This move by the EAO is indicative of the dominance of corporate interests generally, and PETRONAS’ imperatives in particular, within the provincial administrative process.
According to the Globe and Mail, the B.C. Sierra Club, which is a conservation group, is suing the British Columbia government to get these retrospective exemptions revoked. Olivia French, the lawyer representing the B.C. Sierra Club has stated that “Progress Energy acted with a bit of disregard for B.C.’s laws — one of those typical, ‘Ask for forgiveness, not for permission’ sort of positions.” As Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau has said that the EAO’s decision to grant Progress’s extraordinary request for retrospective exemption fuels public distrust of the relationship between government and the powerful industries it regulates.
In an earlier post I had noted how on July 13 2018, LNG Canada formally welcomed PETRONAS as their fifth Joint Venture participant and how this investment was connected with TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink pipeline that is building to transport the natural gas from Dawson Creek to the LNG Canada terminal in Kitimat. Much of the gas to be transported to market via the pipeline and terminal will , of course, come from PETRONAS owned Progress Energy’s own gas fields in the North Montney area. On November 22, 2018 Progress Energy Canada Ltd. changed its name to PETRONAS Energy Canada Ltd. (PETRONAS Canada). Mark Fitzgerald, President & CEO of PETRONAS Canada said, “The name change is a reflection of our parent company’s commitment to Canada and the strength of our business in the company’s overall portfolio.” Malaysian Crown corporation PETRONAS now not only owns one of the largest natural gas resources in the Montney basin, but is also a key player in getting Canadian LNG to market across the Pacific ocean.
In the 3rd and concluding performance for the Pavilion Without Pavilion, Bangkok Biennale 2018, I made an impromptu photographic action on the 3rd of September at Wat Arun. This action was premised on the conflation of two gargantuan Dravidian icons that have attained global currency, Demon King Thotsakan (Dasakantha or Ravana) and contemporary SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth. They are both unquestionably giants of global Indic culture, one from the historiographical past of Farther India and Suwannaphum, and the other from the more immediate realm of Kollywood.
And then …. at the height of the offering, as I was deep in my incantation of Kata Prha Rahu Kam Duang and just as I was placing my Black Jelly Suriyan down on the altar of Phra Rahu the lord of eclipses, I heard a loud crash. It sounded like an explosion as it echoed under the umbrellas that protected worshipers from the sun (Suriyan!)
I was shaken out of my immersion in the moment and, as I turned towards the source, I was shocked to find that it has been the sound of my photographer, Durga Rajah’s massive 24-70mm Nikon lens crashing to the floor…. falling off the camera body … mid-photo! Durga speedily returned the lens to the camera body and tried to resume the shoot as I carried on with the proceedings but the first few images were black, the next set were overexposed and finally she got the damaged lens working, albeit performing poorly.
The whole temple crowd had been startled and Durga and I were deeply disappointed. We left the scene after completing an otherwise wonderfully successful performance, wondering how two serious professionals had been so unprofessional, … wondering if indeed events had been beyond our control … if, in fact, we had experienced the wrath of Rahu, who might have been displeased by our antics!
As I reviewed the images from the shoot late that night trying to salvage a series, I found my hands going up, almost autonomously, in a gesture of prayer … an epiphany …. I got it … Rahu had accepted my offering … He had eaten the sun! And in my realm of activity … in my medium of representation … in the photography of the event … there had been an eclipse … and a return of a queer penumbral light, and that, only as Suryian passed through Rahu, as we always knew he would!
Black Tigers! Koboi is with Jade Comfort just prior to the the showdown with Phra Rahu and Phra Hanuman at high noon, 2nd Sept 2018, Bangkok Biennale, Huai Khwang Ganesha Shrine, Din Daeng, Bangkok.
In making my black jelly offering to Phra Rahu I learnt a Kata Bucha or (Gatha Pooja in Sanskrit.) Kata is the Thai term for an Incantation or Prayer used instrumentally in worship, veneration, invocation and magic. I learnt the Kata Prha Rahu Kam Duang to recite as part of my offering to Rahu from Ajarn Spencer’s online teaching. Phra Hanuman, presented by Jariya Laoriendee, is watching the ritual offering of Suriyan (the Sun) to Phra Rahu . Of course it in the tussle for the Sun (which the young Hanuman thought was a mango) with Rahu that Hanuman got his name – Broken Jaw!