We can’t let ourselves be defined by outsiders

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a decision that killed off the already mortally wounded Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.

In late November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a decision that essentially killed off the already mortally wounded Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.

At the same time, he approved the expansion of the existing Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline from Alberta to the Lower Mainland and the rejuvenation of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline which runs from Alberta to the United States.

Northern Gateway had been in a death spiral for some time. While many people feel that it was the poster child for how not to launch a pipeline project, the federal government lauded Enbridge’s efforts in both consultation and communication with affected parties.

Enbridge’s spending on Northern Gateway is expected to top $500 million and even in Canadian dollars, that’s adult money.

It’s fair to say that for many business people in Terrace and area, there were enough issues with Northern Gateway that caused concern, especially to those of us who have lived here for many years.

Deep in our heart of hearts, the thought of an oil spill, no matter how remote or underplayed, was enough to give us pause in our approval of this megaproject.

The critical part of Mr. Trudeau’s decision is one that seems to have been lost in the furor and media circus over the Kinder Morgan decision.

Big media players immediately stopped discussing Northern Gateway and focused on the real possibility of civil unrest in the latte’d and Mountain Equipment Co-op-shod environs of Vancouver.

What was missed was this; during the PM’s speech, the quote “pipelines do not belong in the Great Bear Rainforest” was a central reason for the government’s cancellation of the project.

Regardless of your personal opinion on Northern Gateway, this statement, repeated more than once and trumpeted and retweeted around the world should make your blood run cold.

What this means is that we, on the west coast, have had ourselves defined by environmental non-governmental organizations and heart string-plucking marketing gurus from afar as a “park”.

In media sound bites, organizations like Tides Canada and Greenpeace have decided that the entire coast of B.C., from the Alaska border to the mid-coast of Vancouver Island needs to be put away on a shelf and any form of industrial development stopped. Take a look at the web sites of both of the above named organizations and seek out online maps of the so called “Great Bear Rainforest.” Note how it differs from those areas previously established by the B.C. government in conjunction with First Nations of the mid-coast.

Lael McKeown, one of my fellow Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce board members, and no stranger to economic development, succinctly put it this way: “We have had logging and sawmills for well over a hundred years.  We have a filigree of logging roads everywhere.”

“We have a  500kv power line, a natural gas line and highways more or less paralleling the proposed Northern Gateway project. It then goes to Kitimat that has had a smelter for 60-plus years, and used to have a methanol plant and pulp mill.

“We have had sawmills from Prince Rupert to Prince George. In the Terrace/Kitimat area our fundamental economy is resource-related and the 30,000 population in the area rely on that resource based economy. Not to mention that we also support mining? Now we are a park.  And the moratorium is coming.”

Depending on who you believe, either Stalin or Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, is credited with the now infamous statement that “a lie, repeated often enough, becomes the truth”.

Our ability to earn a living in our own home is at risk from multi-billion dollar trust funds and ill-informed city dwellers who feel that we live in an undeveloped temperate rain forest.

While all of us who live here can attest to the rain, this and other funded misinformation severely compromises any attempt at future economic development in our area.

If we allow our home to become a defacto national park or nature reserve by our own inaction, or by inaction of our elected officials, we risk being left out of any type of future industrial development.

If we allow outsiders with unclear or private agendas to define who we are, we risk having no future. With no jobs, our children may well be forced to leave again, soon followed by the teachers, doctors and other professionals.

Retail stores and services will close and those of us who remain may well be reduced to wearing quaint costumes and performing for moneyed visitors from afar.

I believe that this is our home and it is up to us and particularly the people who represent us, to specify who we are and what kind of life we want here.

Steve Smyth is a past director of the Terrace-Kitimat Airport Society and a current director of the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce.