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The Globe and Mail needs to stop lecturing British Columbians for opposing pipelines

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I simply couldn't believe Gary Mason in Friday's Globe and Mail article entitled "Sorry Vancouver: The rest of Canada needs pipelines". I urge you to read the article so that if I misrepresent Mr. Mason you will see it for yourself.

Mason gives Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson hell and, by extension, all of us, for being overly proud and concerned about our coastline and other beauties we cherish. He tells us about the unemployment in the oil patch and tough times in Newfoundland and Labrador and praises Justin Trudeau for his decision on the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the strong implication being that this was in the best interest of all Canadians and therefore it didn't matter if it was distinctly not in the interest of some of them.

We selfish British Columbians

The, dare I say, majority of British Columbians are bad Canadians because we are not prepared to sacrifice our coastline, homes, fjords, mountains, forests, rivers, farmland, lakes and oceans so that Alberta can reinvigorate the Tar Sands, the world's worst polluter, and send its, forgive me, shit through our province, into our ocean and destroy what we hold dear.

Mason glosses over the environmental disaster that Alberta's Tar Sands are. It's evidently an act of patriotism to get it up and running again so that Alberta will be rich again and their employment problems all behind him. There isn't a suggestion, perish the thought, that Trudeau has a large political stake in this decision.

It doesn't seem to matter that this decision will wreak huge destruction in this province. Oh, a bit of a risk perhaps but nothing to be concerned about. Never mind that a risk is an event waiting to happen, never mind that, once started, not only does it never end but increases. Overlook the fact that, statistically, it's a certainty that there will be bad spills and collisions and never mind that the consequences will be terrible, British Colombians are churlish in the extreme to withhold their support for such selfish reasons. Mason, at one point, sneers:

People in Vancouver need to get out of their idyllic little bubble and see how things are in the rest of the country. Not everyone has fluked a small fortune as a result of home ownership. Many people across this country live day to day.

This from Gary Mason surprises me a great deal. I believe that British Columbians have a great deal of empathy for other Canadians who are having financial difficulties. In fact, I was part of the debates on equalization in the 70s at first ministers conferences and our province was always supportive of the "equalization" being part of our Constitution and we consistently recognized that we were fortunate in our natural resources where others have not been so lucky. Alberta, I might add, wasn't quite as supportive. However, it never occurred to me, nor did I ever hear it suggested, that it was part of our obligation to permit our resources to be damaged and destroyed in order to fulfill our patriotic duty.

B.C. has changed…for the better

British Columbians have made extraordinary adjustments in their outlook in the last several decades. When I was a boy and a young man there was always another valley to log, another run of fish, more farmland around the corner, more rivers to dam or even reverse. This was considered our birthright.

But though it took us a long time to realize it, we saw that we no longer had those luxuries. For far too long we carried on with blindfolds, in denial, but, helped considerably by brave men and women, mocked for their ideas, who marched, picketed, protested, harried, we changed. Groups seen as crazies, even outlaws, gained respectability and stature. I think of people like Colleen McCrory, Joe Foy, Paul Watson to name just a few. Resource extraction companies and politicians, however reluctantly, began to change. We started to ask questions and do research before we acted.

We left a hell of a lot to be desired but we did better and better. We began to respect what we have and not just see resources as dollar signs in the making. We accepted that conservation and restraint cost money. Not everyone did, of course, but more and more every day.

More environment than "resources"

Those who didn't feel this way sometimes just said to hell with it as Stephen Harper did. Others, like Justin Trudeau learned duplicity, how to speak out of both sides of their mouth. They eloquently talked about saving the environment and changing our ways while doing the very opposite.

As I assess it, and I could be very wrong, the majority of British Columbians, in ever increasing numbers changed and saw their province as much more than a cash cow. They took increasing pride in what was around them and became determined to protect it. They also noted a great example of what past government follies unchanged can do to a great salmon fishery. This has become a daily reminder to British Columbians but unnoticed by Justin Trudeau and his crew.

And they learned that oil companies and their own government obscured facts and in fact lied. They saw and remembered what Enbridge said was a minor pipeline rupture did to the Kalamazoo River. When they're told that tankers don't hit things they read publications like gCaptain and see about one serious collision a week. They see environmental assessments as about as honest as the old Soviet show trials were. There is no trust of corporations and governments anymore because they damn well don't deserve it.

Now comes Gary Mason and the Toronto Globe and Mail telling us that British Columbians are wrong to be proud of caring about their surroundings and taking increasing steps to protect them and that when the likes of Justin Trudeau tells them they owe it to Canada to sacrifice them for the Tar Sands we should cheerfully do so.

The Prime Minister and Premier Christy Clark are prepared to do so.

Most British Columbians are not and to call their patriotism into question is disgraceful.  It is our premier, prime minister, Gary Mason and the Toronto Globe and Mail who should be ashamed.

This article originally appeared in The Common Sense Canadian. 

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Image: Flickr/Canada 2020

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