When asked today (it must have been within his five-question limit) about tanker traffic off the BC coast, Stephen Harper responded that he not only rejects such a ban, but hopes to see more of it. (It’s an economic opportunity, don’t you know.)
I predict this to be a strategic error on Mr. Harper’s part. Most of us in BC know that allowing tankers off the coast is risky business – one spill could put thousands of people out of work. How is that economically sensible, never mind fair? The reality is that it’s only good for one group, and that’s the oil industry.
Tanker traffic puts at risk the livelihoods of thousands of people working in fishing and tourism-related businesses – 56,000 livelihoods, according to some sources.
It just seems dumb to allow one business to put thousands of people’s jobs at risk – and it is not conservative to legislate this unfair advantage. Harper may have made a serious error here. Look at the facts:
- 80% of British Columbians oppose tanker traffic off the coast. EIGHTY PERCENT!!
- 51% oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline [from the tar mines to the BC coast], while only 34% support it
- British Columbians who strongly oppose Enbridge’s pipeline (31.7 percent) outnumber strong supporters (8.1 percent) nearly four to one
This is playing with fire; BCers have a reputation for getting all fired up and pushing back – hard – when pushed too far. Remember the battle for Clayoquot Sound? Thousands of people protested for a long time, and they did everything necessary to stop the logging of this old-growth forest: chained themselves to trees, tree-sits, spiking the trees, blocking logging roads….
Everyone fortunate enough to live here recognized that it was just greedy to cut down every last old-growth tree. It was dumb, and disrespectful, and greedy. It was obvious to long-haired hippies and to grandmothers, to liberals and greens and conservatives.
This is the same sort of elemental threat, and the same sort of blatant pandering to greed, that got so many BCer’s angry enough to take real action.
Watch out, Mr. Harper: You may have pushed BCers too far this time, and you sure revealed your lack of conservative credentials.