Archive for April, 2018

Dear Pipeline People – an important #canpoli conversation
April 11, 2018

First off, I admire you – your determination, your care and concern, your willingness to put yourself on the line for that in which you believe – for your stalwart protection of your values and the values of those for whom you advocate.

What challenges me is your inability and, if you don’t mind my saying, your unwillingness, to work with others to look for consensus. 

I’m reminded of the war in the woods at Claoyquot Sound in the early nineties pitting activists against loggers. That was one rough summer. Not just for those on scene but for the rest of us watching from afar. 

It’s not good when we don’t get along. And it might make for great super time news clips but I’m not convinced (despite your potential efforts to persuade me otherwise) that it works for either side. 

Fast forward 20 plus years, you understand of course that both environmentalists and foresters work together now on a sustainable forestry plan that meets the needs of both sides, not without challenges, in British Columbia – well, not that there are sides anymore – because there is only one big forest.

Canada is one country. There are 36 million of us. No doubt we have different needs and wants. We also have competing interests and shared natural resources. We are no more in need of oil than we are in need of wood or minerals or wheat, or milk, or canola, or fruit or vegetables or, well you get the idea, from our friends, our neighbours and our country men and women.  And to complicate things, we live on a planet with 7 billion other people. 

The bickering makes for high drama. The highest for me was seeing Green Party Leader Elizabeth May arrested in Burnaby. That was a calculated decision. The next, for me, was a tweet from Conservative Party Andrew Scheer mere moments into the the Humboldt memorial about Trudeau’s betrayal after Kinder Morgan, an American company, decided to suspend all unnecessary expenses on the pipeline expansion.  That too was a calculated decision. I’ve not seen much from the federal NDP.  But I’m sure that’s yet to come. I’ve watched elected officials and ordinary people call our Liberal Environment Minister a climate barbie. How is any of this helpful, I ask you? It’s foolish, rude and unproductive. 

Now before you jump to the conclusion that I am a snowflake liberal (look up the real meaning of snowflake in political terms first, by the way, unlikely you’ll use it again), know that I belong to no political party. Because I’m abhor partisan politics. I am, if nothing else, practical. I’m a mom. That’s my job. 

And as a practical mom, can I ask you if you, personally, know what your own contribution is to the green house gases altering the sustainability of the planet for future generations?  I do. I own a home. I use a dryer and a fridge. I also, as it happens, heat my house, buy inexpensive clothes, drive a car, fly home to see my aging parents, occasionally buy a pineapple from South America, use plastic bags from the grocery store (because I always forget the reusable ones), suck at composting (but I’m learning how), and occasionally forget what day my city picks up recycling. See? I’m no angel. 

Next, I need you to know that there are three major oil reserves on the globe – they are in Saudi Arabia (a kingdom run by appointed sheikhs where human rights are not human), Venezuela (where families can’t afford food for their families because of out of control inflation and a collapsed democracy) and the Alberta oil sands with the highest environmental standards on the planet. Are you starting to get the picture?  Add to this that there isn’t a single town in this country that doesn’t rely on the income provided by the oil industry. No word of a lie. Fort Mac pays for plenty. To suggest otherwise is ignorant.   

We need to find the room in between. This idea that our natural resource future is an either/or choice is fool hardy and, frankly, wrong. It’s an “and” solution we need. And we need it desperately. 

Of course we need to migrate to a more sustainable energy future. Nobody, at least nobody reasonable, knows that isn’t the way forward. But it won’t happen overnight. This is a generational change. Trudeau knows it, Notley know its. Even Horgan knows it but he has a tenuous hold on power and is drawing his line in the sand to fulfill his term because he has other things he wants to do that need doing. I know. I live in BC.

This is not an Ottawa/Alberta/BC conversation. This needs to be a national discussion. Quebec and Ontario are getting a free pass on this. Ironically, their green house gas emissions likely trump the rest of ours. The truth is, unless and until we all reflect on our impact, non-pipeline and non-coastline provinces included, this nonsense will continue. And while I’m at it, Kenney, Ford and Scheer don’t get that. They are in election mode. So I ask you to consider what signals are being sent in terms of real and meaningful importance? 

Remember the two most powerful warriors are patience and time. It appears to me, we’re running out of both. Now is the time to lead, not to fight. The truth is that our lives are not measured by that which we oppose or that which we support. Our lives are judged by the changes that we make. It’s time for the change and I humbly suggest, we all have a part to play. That is the price of democracy. Expensive but important. 

So far, this debate has mostly shown those who are focussed on change and those who are focussed on blame. 

This might be the most important change this generation gets to make. I choose “and”. I have a feeling I’m not the only one.