On Pipeline Politics


Are you on Facebook? I am. And, lately. the heated rhetoric around pipelines has taken over my Face Book feed. The language and the strong opinions expressed are at times frightening. “Forget wine. Just cut off gas supplies to BC and bring them to their knees.” Or “Who do those @@##$$%%&& tree hugging environmentalists think they are?” Or “Keep your bitumen in the tar sands where they belong!” Or “Let your birds drown in bitumen. Leave our shore birds alone!” Or “Let me get hold of John Horgan and drown him like the rat that he is.”

I am not making this stuff up! And I only share it with you to underscore how divisive and disrespectful this debate has become. At the heart of all this is the ongoing struggle between environmentalists and our capitalist economy. How DO we balance the equation between our need to survive and our need to ensure that the planet survives for future generations?

I have no answer to that difficult question, but I do have an opinion (of course!) about how the debate should be conducted. Three basic principles should guide the debate and here they are:

RESPECT It serves no purpose to call each other names when we are trying to deal with a thorny, difficult problem. President Donald Trump is one of the most disrespectful leaders on the planet and his solution to problems is to call everyone names and bully them. Those tactics may work in the short term (although I am sceptical about that), but they certainly don’t bring about long-lasting, long term, peaceful solutions. It is the same in this pipeline debate.

COMMUNITY It behooves us to remember that we are ALL Canadians. We have managed to forge a country out a very disparate group of people. The fabric of our country is woven on the belief that we can hold differing opinions and find solutions. We are, in fact, a miracle in a fractured, divided world. Let us remember that with reverence.

CARING In any disagreement, if we are not respectfully mindful of the other, there is a tendency toward “winning at all costs.” The debate becomes so heated, we can forget that the person across the aisle from us is a human being too—with all the frailties and foibles that brings. We must continue to care for that other person, even in the midst of the debate. We should always strive for “win-win” rather than the “winner takes all.” And why is that important for me? Because I believe that that is the way that Jesus would engage the debate even though he never dreamed about the possibility of pipelines!

So, do you think that John Horgan or Rachel Notley or Justin Trudeau will ask me for me help with this debate? Hmmmmmmmm!

Blessings, Linda