Letter: Changing the way 'world class' is used
Houston, we have a problem, a “World Class” problem.
In order to understand the problem it is necessary to understand what we are talking about. “World”, according to Webster’s is “The Earth and all the people and things on it” and “Class” means “The best of its kind”. The combination of “World and Class” creates an expression, “World Class”, used to define something that is “The best for Earth and all the people and things on it.
We have heard, and will continue to hear the expression “World Class” in relation to the northern gateway project (not capitalized for a reason). Enbridge, for example, would have “all the people and things on it” believe that they will build a “World Class” pipeline, with “World Class” safety measures in place. New and improved spill detection technology is just one in a long list of “World Class” safety measures that enbridge (again, no capital required) would have us believe they are capable of. In what World is a project that has the word “Spill” in it “World Class”? My favorite is “World Class” safety measures, things like Double Hulls on the supertankers scheduled to carry massive amounts of bitumen through some of the most challenging and dangerous waters on the Planet. A lot is being made by the oil industry and our decision makers of Double Hulls as a “World Class” safety measure. Double Hulls are in fact a minimum requirement that is already law, and has been for several years. Minimum requirements are not in the same Universe as “World Class”. When you begin to look at this proposal through the lens of “World Class” I am pretty sure you will find the same problems I did.
There is a lot of confusion and debate going on about the northern gateway project, especially after yesterday’s announcement by the Joint Review Panel. Make no mistake, our decision makers and the oil industry have carefully crafted their proposal to ensure this project will go ahead. There is a great deal of talk about “World Class” from both enbridge and our decision makers regarding this proposal. As far as I know there is only one definition of “World Class” and nothing I see leads me to believe that there is anything in this proposal that is “The best for Earth and all the people and things on it”. I’m pretty sure the Caribou are not thinking that loss of habitat in order to build and operate this pipeline fits the definition of “World Class”. I can’t imagine Salmon and Seals thinking that cleaning up a spill is “World Class”. Misleading advertisements are not “World Class”. Systematically and methodically dismantling environmental rights are not “World Class”. Demeaning and disregarding First Nation rights and culture is not “World Class”. Profit at all cost is not “World Class”.
“Oops, sorry about that” is not a “World Class” response.
So, where does the problem lie, and what can we do about it? First, the problem lies squarely on my shoulders. I have created this culture where “World Class” has no meaning. I have created this culture where the dollar is more valued than the Planet. I have created the atmosphere that allows people to make less than “World Class” decisions that impact the Planet. I have lowered the bar so low that “The best for Earth and all the people and things on it” is unrecognizable. The northern gateway project will prove to be one of those defining moments in history, and whether it proceeds or not will shape the World for future generations. My actions will shape the World for future generations.
I have already carefully considered all the implications of this project. I have already determined for myself that this project does not represent “The best for Earth and all the people and things on it”. I have already decided that I will work to figure out a different “World Class” solution that really is “The best for Earth and all the people and things on it”! There are alternatives!
My name is Bob Purdy, I am the “Standup PaddleSurfing, Elder in Training” from “Paddle for the Planet”. I have paddled my Standup PaddleSurfer every day since January 1, 2011 to “Change the Way we live on the Planet”. Clearly, “Change” is required in today’s World, and I will do my part!...