Green­peace Canada head gauges protest­ing pulse of P.E.I.

Journal Pioneer - - THE ISLAND - BY JIM DAY

The head of Green­peace Canada would know­ingly break the law as a “tac­ti­cal or strate­gic’’ move to draw at­ten­tion to a cause.

“If the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Green­peace get­ting ar­rested in a cer­tain place on a cer­tain is­sue is go­ing to help bring aware­ness and/or a cer­tain level of ur­gency to­wards an is­sue, of course I would,’’ says Joanna Kerr.

“I have no fear of rad­i­cal­ism. If call­ing my­self a rad­i­cal ac­tu­ally helps the cause, go for it.’’

How­ever, Kerr, who has held the top post with Green­peace Canada for about eight months, is leery of the neg­a­tive im­age the federal govern­ment and oth­ers try to cre­ate around rad­i­cal ac­tion.

Kerr says Ot­tawa tries to paint Green­peace as a fringe group that is “ir­rel­e­vant and is un­der­min­ing to growth and eco­nomic pros­per­ity.’’

She wants Green­peace to in­spire many people to take ac­tion lo­cally and glob­ally to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment.

Kerr, who gave a free lec­ture in Char­lot­te­town Thurs­day night called How to be Coura­geous on a Planet in Cri­sis, told The Guardian cit­i­zens can make plenty of noise with­out fear of be­ing ar­rested.

She says a coura­geous act can be as sim­ple as sign­ing a pe­ti­tion or at­tend­ing a pub­lic meet­ing.

A lot can be done as con­sumers, she adds.

Ask the store man­ager, for in­stance, whether lo­cally grown pro­duce and lo­cally sourced prod­ucts are be­ing sold.

“Con­sumer power is in­cred­i­bly, in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful,’’ says Kerr.

“I think more people need to feel their own sense of power, their own sense of courage.’’

Green­peace, she stresses, would never ad­vise any­body to put their free­dom on the line if they haven’t had the ex­ten­sive train­ing that ac­tivists with the group re­ceive.

Kerr, who pre­vi­ously served as the first fe­male chief ex­ec­u­tive of a global de­vel­op­ment group based in South Africa, made her first visit to P.E.I. Thurs­day.

In ad­di­tion to her lec­ture, she spent the day hear­ing “from real folks on the Is­land’’ to un­der­stand some is­sues of con­cern here that the group can help “am­plify’’.

Her busy itin­er­ary in­cluded look­ing into agri­cul­tural soil ero­sion, silt-filled streams, ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied sal­mon, and agri­cul­tural pes­ti­cides.

“As an or­ga­ni­za­tion, we’re very con­cerned about pro­tect­ing oceans, pro­tect­ing forests, sav­ing the Arc­tic, and mov­ing to re­new­able en­ergy,’’ says Kerr.

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