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.