Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'm a radical. How about you?

The Honourable Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, called me a radical on Monday in an open letter he had printed in the Toronto Globe and Mail. If you missed it, you can find it here. Here's the part where he refers to folks like me who oppose the building of the Gateway Pipeline to carry Oilsands bitumen through the forests of British Columbia to a port located on a pristine coast where our First Nations brothers and sisters fish for their food:

Unfortunately, there are environmental and other radical groups that would seek to block this opportunity to diversify our trade. Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. 
No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams. 
These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.

Minister Oliver, I'm very disappointed in you. As the Minister of Natural Resources, you, of all people, should be able to see the forest for the trees. I would think you would know that ordinary Canadians are concerned with more than just the building of a pipeline for the sake of Canada's wealth. I would think you would know that the word radical can also refer to roots, as in grassroots... and that there are a lot of ordinary, grassroots Canadians who can see that calling people names and accusing them of ulterior motives is just another reason for them to protest against the unsustainable choices your government is making.
Minister Oliver, you're letting me down. Honestly, I could care less about the name calling, but I expect you to think about ALL our natural resources, not just the ones that stimulate our economy. I would hope you would give first consideration to the environment on which we all depend for clean air, water, food and housing. I would like you to ensure that the appropriate development of the Oilsands (including dealing with increasing carbon emissions and those nasty tailings ponds) take place before any further thought be given to building pipelines. I would appreciate knowing that if Canadians allow the Oilsands to continue to develop, we won't be paying for them with the very atmosphere our children and grandchildren will inherit. 

Minister Oliver, I am not against forestry, or mining, or oil, or gas, or hydroelectric dams. I rely on all those things (except the dams -- we buy windpower) to live in a chilly northern Canadian city. What I am against is the exploitation of those resources by politicians and businessmen who are more concerned with an unsustainable economy's bottom line than with the environment that we all depend upon in order to live. I don't want to live in a world whose climate change becomes a constant threat to our very existence. I don't want my First Nations brothers and sisters' fishing grounds to become any more polluted than they already are, or to be endangered by the possibility of oil spills. 
I don't want forestry to decimate old growth rain forests that help to balance ecosystems that are tied to other ecosystems in ways that we will only discover when those ecosystems are dying. I don't want mining to lead to the erosion or pollution of important watersheds. If I have to use less oil, gas or electricity, I will find ways to adapt, because I am willing to make personal sacrifices for a healthier future. 

In other words, I just want the planet Earth and all its life forms to continue, whole and well, for many generations. I'm not convinced that you or your government cronies really understand how a pipeline will change things for the worse. So for the sake of your children and grandchildren, I write my own open letter to you. 

If my attitude makes me a radical, I wear the t-shirt proudly. And I'll mail my commentary/rant to you, and invite all the other radicals I know to write you their own letters

Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, can be reached at Even better, send a snail mail (no stamp required): 

Hon. Joe Oliver,
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

(t-shirt picture from


  1. Wow. You rock. That is all:)

    Ok, I can't keep my mouth shut!
    That drives me NUTS that people who are intelligent and caring, who have valid points and concerns about what is going on out there, are painted with that brush. I'm with you. Let's take that word, put it on our shirts, make it our own and wear it proudly!

    Thanks for the address;)

  2. Email to Joe would be better... snail mail kills trees. :)

  3. I know, I thought of that... but snail mails are harder to ignore... ;oD

  4. Well put Maria. I am a businessman, although maybe I might be considered radical, I'm a 50 year old white guy with short hair - could pass for conservative in most circles until I open my mouth. I like to think I just have a brain as you pointed out. I'm doing quite nicely, it's the generations who don't yet have a voice that we need the right for, to question any development. Good projects, judged on their merits, will never have to worry about approval. The questionable ones are always worth scrutinizing closely. If they can't past the smell test they don't deserve approval. Any business person understands this. Sadly, Oliver doesn't have the double digit IQ required to figure this part out.
    I love how the foreigners can't protest a project that is being built so foreigner's can buy the product. Pay your money and shut your mouth. What happens when they decide to buy somewhere else?


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