Last night I went to a panel discussion about the Enbridge pipeline. My friend Terry Glavin was one of the panelists along with Elizabeth May and Emma Pullman. Terry was great, Elizabeth May was decent but predictable and Emma Pullman was verging on the left wing side version of the black helicopter crowd.
After having gone last night I understand now why I have had more or less no involvement with the anti-Enbridge movement - I do not like the attitude and actions of the people opposing the pipeline. I was reminded of it again today when I saw this protest in Victoria against the pipeline. The people looked like the same set of cranky protest crowd that shows up for most things. The crowds are almost always the same scale in size and include all manner of people trying to raise their pet issue as well.
I know I was one of the people when I was young, but my defence is that I was aged 15 to 23 when I did it and really did not understand that all the came from the protests I was at was that I felt like I was virtuous and better than the unwashed masses. Protesting was fun, it was also useless. I have accomplished more change by joining the BC Liberals than all the protests that I went to in my youth.
Last night the crowd was clearly to the left and seriously to the left. Harper was evil, he was committing treason, he was selling us out, there was a conspiracy going on etc..... It was very much an us and them mentality with the us being virtuous and in the right. It might make you feel good, but it changes nothing.
When it comes to the pipeline I am an agnostic, I am not convinced that it will be a major environmental problem and the north coast is no worse for tankers than many other parts of the world. The reality is that the oil is coming out of the ground and needs to go somewhere and if some company wants to build a big pipe, then that is their business.
Where is does matter to me is the involvement of Sinopec and other arms of the totalitarian regime in Beijing. No politburo controlled entity from China should be allowed to own anything in Canada. I would personal like to see the Canadian government ban anyone connected to the companies from stepping foot in Canada. Canada really needs to make it clear that only acceptable form of governance is a democracy. I really want to see a Canadian foreign policy that only recognizes elected governments. It would be nice if at least one country on earth treated human rights as if they actually mattered.
The pipeline project also matters to me because of the First Nations. The First Nations in the north west are not in favour and they have legal rights to the lands. They do not have recognized title at this time, but all that takes is a court case for that to change. Certainly an injunction against the pipeline while a court case is heard about ownership of the land would seem to meet the test of balance of conveniences.
The governments have avoided title cases as much as possible because of the fear that in court they ruling will come down that the First Nations do own the land. As long as the decision has not come down, the fiction that First Nations do not own any land can continue.
If the First Nations say not on their land, then that should be it. To do anything else is to undermine the basic rights and freedoms of Canadian constitutional law. Though there is a big unstated aspect to this, aboriginal title is not something that most of the traditional left ever wants to see because it they are constitutionally protected property rights. Some day a group like the Fraser Institute or such is going to realize the First Nations have legal arguments to protect property rights, but I digress here.
Back to the people screaming and yelling and signing petitions etc against the Enbridge pipeline, they are making it easier for the pipeline to go ahead. If these people really wanted to have an impact they would hang out where the Conservative opinion makers are and raise the points that will resonate with them. Communists are not the sort of people conservatives like. Also, property rights matter to most Conservatives which is why they can understand aboriginal title if you can talk their language. If you want to take on Ezra Levant, focus on the Chinese politburo and property rights - he can no agree.
One of the best example globally of someone that has figured out how to make a difference by taking to the right is Bjorn Lomborg.
Last night I was also reminded that at my core my values have never really changed, what has changed is that I grew and understood that me feeling virtuous about my actions was an utter waste of time and likely did more harm than good. I also understand I can not work with the sort of people that were there last night, hating Harper and protesting seems more important to them than actually accomplishing anything.