You can expect a newspaper in Alberta to support the oil-patch, that’s a major part of its audience, its advertising market, its mandate. A newspaper supporting local industry is perfectly fine in a free and democratic society.
The question has to be asked: does that support include juvenile name calling, worthy of a spoiled 13-year-old? In an editorial Friday, The Calgary Herald calls the opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline “eco-pests.”
Note I said “spoiled” 13-year-old. There are many 13-year-olds across Canada who are clearly more mature than The Calgary Herald editorial board.
Editorial: Eco-pests force government to streamline hearings
The editorial goes goes over the same old line that environmentalists are “stacking” or “hijacking” the hearings. The Herald, like the rest of the Alberta media, trumpets the expose that two people out of the more than 4,000 who signed up for the hearings are from Brazil.
Those two people from Brazil, who may have signed up inadvertently, are just .005 per cent of the total number who want speak, either as intervenors or present 10-minute comments.
So far no foreign billionaires have appeared before the hearings. Why not? After all, foreign billionaires can afford to hire all the fancy energy lawyers they need from the glass towers in downtown Calgary if they wanted to be real intervenors.
So far everyone who has appeared before what the Joint Review Panel is now calling “Community Hearings” are, to use a shopworn but applicable phrase, “ordinary people,” most of them members of First Nations directly affected by the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
The Herald says:
Regulatory reviews must be efficient and credible, and the government must not sacrifice sound environmental review for the sake of haste. But when the process becomes so cumbersome that Canada becomes uncompetitive, the federal government is rightfully forced to act.
That paragraph is typical of the coverage from The Calgary Herald going back years. Up until recently, every story in The Calgary Herald added a mandatory paragraph about “First Nations and environmentalists” opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline, without ever going into details, without ever bothering to send a reporter across the Rockies into British Columbia. Only now that there is widespread opposition to the pipeline across British Columbia is the Herald paying condescending attention. That sentence “must not sacrifice sound environmental review” is just another meaningless example of an obligatory journalistic catch phrase, added to the editorial in a vain attempt to achieve “balance.”
No wonder the media is losing credibility at warp speed.
Do you realize that while Calgary may be the headquarters of the energy industry in Alberta, Calgary itself is no where near the route of the Northern Gateway pipeline? That means that while Calgary gets let’s say 98 per cent of the benefits from the Northern Gateway pipeline, it takes absolutely none of the risk.
Warning that lengthy reviews cause investment dollars to leave Canada, [Natural Resources Minister Joe] Oliver properly enunciated a simple goal: “one project, one review in a clearly defined time period.” Imagine a process where each side presents its facts and a decision is rendered.
One has to wonder if the attitude would be any different if a major pipeline breach would mean that the entire city of Calgary would have to exist on bottled water for two or more years, a scenario for Kitimat if there is bitumen pipeline breach along our water supply, the Kitimat River (entirely possible given all the landslides here). If the Calgary water supply was threatened, how many people in Calgary would sign up to speak to a Joint Review Panel?
One has to wonder how quickly the Herald editorial board and its oil-patch loving columnists would change their minds after say just two or three weeks of lining up for those water bottles?
The problem is much deeper than that. The Calgary Herald editorial is only reflecting an attitude that seems to be widespread in the city. Over the past several weeks, there have been numerous posts on Twitter hashtagged #Kitimat, saying that because Kitimat is not within the actual boundaries of the Great Bear Rainforest, we apparently don’t live in the rainforest. Some tweets suggest that if you actually say that Kitimat is in the middle of a vast coastal rainforest, you are lying, anti-Conservative (highly likely) and (here quoting the Herald, not the tweet) an “eco-pest.”
The political agenda on the Northern Gateway pipeline is being driven by people in Alberta who live far from the pipeline route itself even in Alberta, are at least 2,000 kilometres from Kitimat, have never been to Kitimat, make up their minds by looking at maps (apparently they don’t even bother to look at Google Earth which would show all the forest around Kitimat) and won’t have to lift a finger to clean up after a pipeline breach or tanker disaster. Given attitude of many in Alberta toward taxes, they certainly wouldn’t want to help pay for the clean up either. They’ll leave it to the taxpayers of British Columbia and the people of northwestern British Columbia to deal with the mess, while again, reaping all the benefits from the energy industry.
This attitude ranges from twits on Twitter to the academic community.
About century ago, there was a similar attitude seen in academia, in the newspapers, and with the “man on the street” (since women didn’t count back then). It was the attitude in Europe toward African colonies, that the colonies existed for the sole benefit of the “mother country.”
Alberta, it seems, increasingly sees northern British Columbia as a colony, existing for the sole benefit of that province. It is likely that if some Calgary academic did some research, that academic could find a nineteenth century editorial referring to revolting colonials or rebelling natives as “pests.”
One thought on “Editorial: Calgary Herald calls Northern Gateway opponents “eco-pests””
Dear Robin Rowland,
I sent link to your timely essay above to the Calgary Herald with this note:
“I challenge the Calgary Herald to print this excellent response to your Editorial about “eco-pests”.”
Eileen in Black Diamond, AB
Let’s see whether your balance actually exists?
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