An ongoing conversation between “Gabe” an islander and a political junkie, and “Youth” a young, hesitant newcomer to the weird, whacky and often disturbing world of Canadian politics. Gabe attempts to explain the current situation with the federal government and other political disorders.
Youth: So did you see pictures of Prime Minister Harper flipping burgers at the Calgary Stampede? Nice to see him mix with the common folk, eh?
Gabe: Youngster, Harper in a cowboy hat is kind of like Jim Flaherty in tights. Neither is anything you’d want to see. It’s just not right.
Youth: C’mon, Harper was just relaxing with other Westerners in his home town.
Gabe: Harper was born in Toronto.
Youth: Oh. Well, he still seems like an Albertan.
Gabe: No argument there.
Youth: So speaking of Alberta, did you notice that Premier Christy Clark’s government finally came out with a clear statement concerning the Enbridge pipeline proposal?
Her Environment Minister Terry Lake stated that they wouldn’t support the pipeline unless Enbridge has really good oil spill response and prevention systems and British Columbia got its fair share of the benefits.
He stated that as it stands, British Columbia would get only eight per cent of the pipeline revenue while assuming 100 per cent of the marine risk for the port terminal and tanker traffic on the West Coast, and 58 per cent of the land-based risk for the pipeline.
Gabe: Okay kid, first of all Christy Clark is so politically intimate with the Harper government that she even hired his former press secretary and one of his former policy advisors, Ken Boessenkool – who by the way also lobbied the federal government on behalf of Enbridge. Coincidence? I think not.
On top of that it took her well over two years to take even this pathetic, wishy-washy position on the Northern Gateway pipeline. If you look at these statements, it sounds like what she’s saying is her government is willing to take the risks if there’s enough money involved to make it worthwhile. Like Rafe Mair said, Premier Clark has declared British Columbia to be a common prostitute, and is now ready to dicker over price.
Youth: C’mon old man, Canada’s economy depends on exporting this oil to places like China and other burgeoning economies – plus this pipeline will create hundreds of jobs for British Columbians.
Life is full of risks. Can’t you appreciate that there are risks with any major project like this one?
Gabe: There are risks and there are risks. This risk is ridiculous. Given the reality of the situation and the history of this company, the likelihood of not just a broken pipeline and a huge leak, but the chances of a spill from a tanker along the coast are almost certain.
Do you have any idea what could happen if there was a spill along our coast? Do you have any idea how challenging it would be to even begin to try to clean up a spill of bitumen? Can you even envision how completely disastrous to the environment that could be?
And then, how about you ask yourself why we’re exporting oil from the west when we’re importing it from other countries in the east? Where’s the logic in this?
Youth: Well, when you put it that way, maybe this isn’t such a good idea. But then how do we deal with our energy needs and our unemployment problems?
Gabe: Not by gambling with our natural environment. Not by taking risks that could destroy our rivers and our mountain ranges and our coastline and our coastal waters. That would be far too high a price to pay.
We need to look at creating jobs by developing renewable and sustainable sources of energy and new methods of energy conservation. The majority of European countries are focused on creating new, alternative, more efficient sources of energy, and they have produced new jobs as a result. We still seem to be stuck in a mid 20th century vision of how to access and make use of energy. Seems the best way we’ve come up with to use oil is to just burn it! Not too bright.
Youth: But the Prime Minister seems so committed to pushing this project through. He must see something that we don’t. He’s even limited the length of the environmental review process so that radical environmental agitators don’t delay projects that will drive our economy.
Gabe: Don’t give the guy that much credit. He’s historically been blind to the fact that the words “economy” and “ecology” are derived from similar Greek words. Ecology means the study of the house or habitation; economy refers to the management of the house or habitation. They are intimately interconnected and developing one in favour of the other takes everything out of balance.
Steve admits to a skewed fascination with the politics of the Borg and a strong inclination to explore the detours travelled to avoid the risk of consciousness. Steve can be contacted at email@example.com.
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