Hot Docs Review: Wiebo’s War [David York, 2011]

Toronto –The U.S. gets the majority of its gas and oil from Canada. This fact comes as a surprise to some, especially given the prominence of U.S oil interests in the middle east. Unfortunately for Canadians, this isn’t something we should be proud of. The rampant and unchecked development of oil and gas in B.C. and Alberta has had a real and negative impact on the environment. We are methodically destroying nature while politicians are incapable or unwilling to manage the situation.

Reverend Wiebo Ludwig moved to Trickle Creek BC with his family in an attempt to live a more concersvative Christian life, away from the pressures of the secular world. He established a commune with another family, and together they built a self-sustaining existence living off their land. This all changed when they received a letter from Enercan, an energy company, informing them that the company would be drilling a gas well nearby. According to law, land-owners only own the top six feet of their land, and so the government can buy and sell what’s underneath to energy companies without even notifying the land owners.

As more and more gas wells surrounded their farm, strange things started happening: mass miscarriages of their livestock, followed by human babies. The children started getting severe reactions to the ever-burning gas flares. They discovered that the culprit was a Hydrogren Sulfide leak at a nearby well. Their appeals to government officials fell on deaf ears as gas development continued unabated. It was at this point that Wiebo and his family started resorting to eco-terrorism to send a message to Big Oil.

This is a challenging and frustrating documentary to watch. It’s easy to imagine being in Wiebo’s shoes, and having to deal with both politicians and companies that endlessly give him the run-around while his family is poisoned. Is vigilante action  justified when politicians and police are so firmly in bed with private interests?

Watching this documentary underlines how crucial it is to have powerful and independent government bodies that can control and manage growth in dirty and environmentally damaging industries. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-capitalist, but if we humans can’t come to terms with living within our environmental means, then soon our environment will stop supporting us. We have to understand that corporations, while not necessarily evil, are myopic by design.

Wiebo’s War has Hot Docs screenings on April 30th, May 3rd, and May 7th.

Posted on by Mark in Hot Docs, Reviews