Letter: What we say ‘yes’ to when we say ‘no’

It’s important to document what we say ‘yes’ to when we say ‘no’ to the tar sands, pipelines and tankers.

In replying to my letter about the Enbridge decision (Pipeline Decision by Feds Wrong Headed, June 20 Capital News), Mr. Mellis has worked overtime portraying his side as beleaguered (World is Beating a Path to Our Shores for Oil, June 24 Capital News).

The pro-pipeline side, which he thinks is the majority of Canadians, is not allowed on the nightly newscasts, he says.  Those in favour of exporting tar sands products are “muzzled” by the media, and their opinion is deliberately avoided by pollsters.  Reporters “stick-handle” questions to create the appearance of overwhelming opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Let’s ignore the fact that it would be hard to know who’s a majority and who isn’t without polls.  As for there being a bias in newscasts against the development and export of Canada’s oil resources, it’s the first I’ve heard of it.  I don’t get anywhere in trying to research this quaint idea.

In the battle for public opinion, I would suggest Mr. Mellis check the airwaves again.  The federal government and corporate Canada have spared no effort or expense in promoting oil and gas.  In 2012, the government was spending $9 million a year.  In 2013, the public relations budget was nearly doubled to $16.5 million.  Before the year was out, the government was involved in a $40 million campaign at home and abroad to advertise Canada’s oil and gas sector.

This year, the government spent $1 million of taxpayers’ money on a single TV ad to promote the tarsands and pipelines, and many more millions on their continuing campaigns.  As for Enbridge Inc., it was reported this month that the corporation is spending a whopping $350 million on public relations.

Mr. Mellis has also worked to portray me as a conspiracy theorist, and protesters in general as “climate change alarmists” shadily funded by SOMEONE.  Have I got news for Mr. Mellis.  Here in Kelowna, we bleach second-hand bedsheets to turn into banners, and rely on social media to get the word out.  If we did have any money, we wouldn’t have a pot to put it in.

In suggesting that protesters will need a new “complaint concept” once the Northern Gateway project proves itself a winner, Mr. Mellis seems to take up where one newspaper editor left off just the other day, calling us the “enviro, anti-everything crowd.”

It’s therefore important to document what we say ‘yes’ to when we say ‘no’ to the tar sands, pipelines and tankers.

We say ‘yes’ to the coastal fisheries and BC’s tourism industry, which will be wiped out with the first marine spill of diluted bitumen.  We say ‘yes’ to Aboriginal land title, and the constitutional right of Aboriginal peoples to be consulted about development on their lands.  We say ‘yes’ to a strong legal framework to protect the environment and deal with climate change, and ‘yes’ to the rights of our children and grandchildren to have a planet fit for habitation.  We say ‘yes’ to science, and ‘yes’ to all the communities along the proposed pipeline routes, and ‘yes’ to democratic decision-making instead of the farce that was conducted by the Enbridge Joint Review Panel and Stephen Harper’s cabinet.

The number of jobs created for every million dollars invested in oil and gas is two.  The number created for every million dollars invested in clean energy is 15.  We therefore say ‘yes’ to a green economy – a healthy, diversified economy that’s life-enhancing.

Solar energy is 75 per cent cheaper than just six years ago, and if we met the most ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions the IPCC considered in their last report, we’d see a reduction in economic growth of a puny 0.06 per cent per year.  We therefore say ‘yes’ to investment in clean, renewable energy.

Lastly, we will say ‘yes’ to politicians, should any appear, who say ‘no’ to the Calgary cartel and their pots of election gold.

Free of charge, we will shower them with votes if they represent us, our children, and grandchildren, and if they support BC’s coastal industries, Aboriginal rights, environmental protection, scientific consensus, climate change mitigation, and actual job creation rather than the empty promises of economic recovery Stephen Harper delivers year in and year out.

Who’s recovered since the crash of 2008 is the top fifth of the population.  Eighty per cent of us – roughly speaking, a lot of seniors, veterans, students, families, and those who are disabled, underemployed and unemployed – are not doing well at all.

Dianne Varga



Kelowna Capital News