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