Opinion » Maxed Out

The buck stops where?



"We do not want projects that are safe, generate thousands of new jobs and open up new export markets, to die in the approval phase due to unnecessary delays."

"Anyone looking at the record of approvals for certain major projects across Canada cannot help but come to the conclusion that many of these projects have been delayed too long."

Funny thing about the clarion cry of Canada's natural resources minister, Joe Oliver's open letter, warning that foreign environmental radicals — surprised he didn't call them terrorists... but what the heck, this is only the opening salvo — were out to scotch the Northern Gateway oil pipeline: Nowhere in his dire warning was there even a hint the pipeline wouldn't be built. Delayed, maybe. Delayed to the point of "economically unviable," perhaps. Not built? Not on your life.

The pipeline, from the Alberta tarsands wasteland to B.C.'s own environmental garden spot, Kitimat, will inevitably be built. The process from now until then — largely a matter of co-opting various first nations, ignoring environmental entreaties and spreading the Con's version of the Big Lie — will, to a large degree, parrot Shaw's famous quip on propriety, "We've already established what you are, ma'am. Now we're just haggling over the price."

For if there's one thing the blue-eyed sheiks and the sharp-eyed Conservatives fully know and bank on, it's that we are all, to a greater or lesser degree, whores when it comes to energy and money. At the end of the day, Northern Gateway is all about both. The "approval" process is just the sideshow.

Alberta's got oil. The whole world wants oil. It really doesn't matter whether it's the dirtiest oil in the world or "ethical" oil. By the time it comes out of a gas pump and into your Hummer or Prius, oil's oil and even the most ardent organic, free-range, cruelty-free, locavore doesn't give more than passing thought to where it came from, how it was extracted or who might have been killed, exploited or marginalized to get it... especially if they can save three cents a litre.

So what's the big deal about Northern Gateway? Is it the fact it will cut a swath through northern B.C. wilderness so rugged and untouched that virtually none of us will ever set foot in it? Well, yes. While it may only be an abstract concept, untouched wilderness is one of those warm and fuzzies people enjoy having around, no matter how remote, and appreciate even more because they know it drives the captains of industry and exploitation crazy. Bonus!

Is it that it'll threaten the spirit bears of the great bear rainforest who will all look more like their black bear brothers after the first supertanker spills its guts somewhere south of Kitimat on its journey to fuel the enlightened government limos of China? Sure, why not? Hell, sprit bears are at least as cuddly as baby harp seals and they'd never think of threatening the livelihood of coastal fishermen.

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