Saturday, January 05, 2013

Jack Knox It Straight Out of the Park

Victoria Times Colonist scribe Jack Knox has it right.   It's not eco-hippies who will stop Harper's Northern Gateway pipeline, it's the heart of middle-class Canada who will do that job.

The panel reviewing Enbridge’s proposal to build a 1,150-kilometre pipeline from Alberta to a terminal at Kitimat will spend until Jan. 11 hearing presentations from more than 270 Victorians, all of whom signed up for the opportunity at least 15 months ago.

First up was [Bill] Eisenhauer, with a message echoed throughout the day: Northern Gateway represents a rush to sell off a precious resource in a reckless fashion, the threat to the environment outweighing the benefit. “There are many, many other less risky and less toxic ways to generate economic growth,” he testified.

Eisenhauer is not an eco-hippie. He wore a suit and tie, no hackey sack in sight. He’s a solid community guy: a 45-year-old dad who has his own communications business, sits on the Victoria Hospice Foundation board, coaches a Bays United soccer team and helped organize the local leg of the Olympic torch relay.

In other words, he’s mainstream, the kind of voter whose opinion carries weight with politicians. His is the voice — or at least a voice — of Middle Canada. “That is one of the reasons I thought it was important that I make the effort,” he said later.

He’s not alone. While the list of speakers is liberally sprinkled with environmental activists, Friday’s Ocean Pointe waiting room looked more like a United Church service than a Grateful Dead concert.

That’s not the image they get across the Rockies, where a different narrative is told. The conventional Albertan perspective is that the world needs oil, we have it, we just need to get it to market. Our traditional customers are in the U.S. heartland, but the Americans have rejected the Keystone pipeline that would take it there. Besides, the oil companies can get a much higher price from the Asians, so let’s build a pipeline to the coast and sell to them instead.

Alberta and Ottawa freely malign British Columbians opposed to their damned bitumen pipelines as eco-radicals, extremists.  Many, perhaps even most, of us are grey-haired, lifelong law-abiding, middle class citizens for whom the British Columbia/Alberta border is a pipeline Rubicon.   It endangers us, our province and our way of life.  That can't be allowed to happen.


karen said...

When the JPR was in Prince George, there were lots of professional-looking people making submissions. Profs from the university all looked like "ordinary people." My partner and I, both carpenters, made submissions. He dressed in office attire, I wore a demure linen dress. Before one young woman would sit down next to us, she asked if we were pipeline proponents or opponents. When we said opponents she said we looked like we might be in favour. From our clothes, I guess. I mentioned in my submission that I am a carpenter, a scaffolder and I have worked in refineries. It seemed to interest the panel.

On a related note, I thought when the time comes to chain ourselves to bulldozers we should do it in black tie attire.

The Mound of Sound said...

Karen, what can I say? I have no tails and black ties any longer but I do have a couple of perfectly lovely court gowns, complete with waistcoats, elegant pinstripe trous, shirts and button on collars and clerical tabs. I might even manage to drab out an immaculate pair of Daks brogues? Can I join you?

karen said...

Sounds perfect. Of course you can join us. I pretty much expected you would, given your general topics and tone.