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Protesters in Vancouver march at a rally to oppose Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Protesters in Vancouver march at a rally to oppose Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

THE CONVERSATION

July 12: This week’s Talking Point – co-operating on Northern Gateway – plus letters to the editor Add to ...

Few things divide Canadians more than pipeline projects. Globe readers, print and digital, are no exception – as evidenced by their reaction to former Ontario premier Mike Harris’s call to co-operate on Northern Gateway

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Mike Harris’s column promoting the Northern Gateway pipeline has prompted me to share my experience of 26 years plying our northern B.C. coastal waters as a commercial fisherman (Co-operate On Gateway, For Prosperity’s Sake – July 8).

Storm force winds frequent our central and north coast every winter. A place where we have staggering 24-foot tides and storms that come out of nowhere. Imagine being in the middle of Hecate Strait, far from land, with the tidal current flooding and ebbing four times a day.

Anyone who endorses tankers navigating through these waters is not acting in the interest of Canadians. It would only be a matter of time before an accident happened and our intricate coastline would make any oil clean-up impossible.

On shore, Northern Gateway’s proposed pipeline path through B.C.’s unstable ground, rife with snow and landslides is not sensible. And if there is a leak or incident, who will monitor the thousands of stream crossings? Certainly not a neutered DFO. Enbridge has a poor track record when it comes to oil spills: Take the example near Kalamazoo, Mich., where a large rupture happened in 2010.

This project makes little sense, including the economic angle, which has been debunked by experts. Build refineries in Alberta to increase jobs, don’t ship them to Asia. Stop the Enbridge pipeline proposal and consider expanding the existing, proven Kinder Morgan pipeline for a better Canada.

Jim Horner, Whistler, B.C.

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It doesn’t matter how far over backward pipeline proponents are willing to bend on the safety front, the anti-pipeline hardliners are all about “no.”

Mike Harris’s arguments are reasonable – “In order to proceed, these projects must balance [my italics] economic development with environmental and safety protections” – yet predictably, he and anybody else who doesn’t agree with the anti-pipeliners gets slammed.

Responsible energy management is critical to Canada’s economy. It’s time to get shovels in the ground.

Jason Murray, Fredericton

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Mike Harris says the Northern Gateway construction jobs – forecast, not guaranteed – might be in the order of 3,000. These are what development economists call “rollover” jobs. They are literally here today, gone tomorrow. And in a national economy, that’s minuscule.

Even if one believes the claim that B.C. will benefit from 560 new long-term jobs, the prospect of 560 new jobs is an extremely modest pay-off for the disruption, risks, unaccounted-for environmental, social, infrastructure and other costs that will be incurred, largely by British Columbians. Then there is the postulated $300-billion over 30 years to Canada’s GDP. Again, for the massive unaccounted-for “negative externalities,” mostly environmental, social and cultural costs that others will bear, and the scale of Canada’s GDP itself, this is a pittance in the larger scheme of things.

Mr. Harris’s starting point, seeing Canada as “a resource nation,” ineluctably ensures that we will continue to be hewers of wood and drawers of water.

His vision of Canada’s economy, and that of the Fraser Institute and other devotees of this reckless megaproject, is a 19th-century vision, and his market-lead “balancing” of societal priorities in contemporary Canada is jaded and irrelevant to a society committed to social justice and a sustainable economy.

David J.A. Douglas, Guelph, Ont.

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The rest of Canada might well wonder about the peals of laughter emerging from Ontario residents upon reading Mike Harris’s article. As a premier of Ontario, Mr. Harris left the province in a shambles, undermining and financially underfunding ministries in energy, environment, agriculture, education, health, community and social services. It took the better part of 10 years to repair the damage.

Mr. Harris’s asking for co-operation and using words like “balance,” “safety,” “thoughtful debate,” “environmental protection” and “fair conditions” is like watching Stephen Harper put on that favourite sweater.

Let the buyer beware.

Edward Carson, Toronto

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The coast of British Columbia may be the most breathtakingly beautiful place on Earth. Its defenders point out that its bounty generates millions in tourism and fishing, but the truth is that it has value far beyond money. We must preserve this treasure for future generations. Period. To those who understand this, all the talk about leak-detection systems, double-hulled tankers and up-to-the-minute “spill response plans” is simply stomach-turning.

As there is no amount of money that can compensate future generations for the degradation of our coast, there can be no useful discussion of “balancing” competing interests.

Northern Gateway cannot be built. There can be no oil tankers in the Great Bear Sea.

Marjorie Nichol, Toronto

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Globally, the smart money is moving out of fossil fuel and into renewables. This is a desperate last attempt by corporate interests to milk the oil sands to get what they can before this becomes financially ineffective, as it rapidly is.

Beth Carruthers, Vancouver

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Mike Harris is right. Someone said globally the smart move is to move away from fossil fuels to renewables. That’s totally wrong. Our economies would come to screeching stops; the world would be in chaos; there would be no travelling, so there would be no production for worldwide consumption of anything.

Ships all over the world would stop; rail services would stop; vehicle travel would stop. We would starve. Fossil fuels are the most efficient energy source there is. What concerns me is they must be limited. Once gone, all the bad things mentioned and more would happen.

Michael David Kemp, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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ON REFLECTION Letters to the editor

Isolation is Criminal

Re 162 Days In Segregation. Then Edward Snowshoe Killed Himself (July 11): Edward Snowshoe didn’t “fall” through the cracks of a system, as Provincial Court Justice James Wheatley stated in his fatality report. He was shoved into the hole of segregation by a system based on the false premise that isolation somehow helps troubled people.

That is criminal.

It needs to stop.

Cathleen Fillmore, Toronto

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Ask Israel …

Re Ask Hamas… (July 11): A letter writer, responding to a suggestion that Hamas should be invited to the table for talks, says Hamas should be asked: What borders of an Israeli state would they accept and would they host an Israeli ambassador in their country?

What if Hamas responded: 1967 borders; yes to an Israeli ambassador. What would Israel be willing to do about its so-called “facts on the ground,” a.k.a. Israeli settlements?

Richard McFarlane, Edmonton

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PM’s Quebec courtship

Re Harper Embarks On Strategy To Win Back Quebec (July 10) Stephen Harper’s bid to associate his government with that of George-Étienne Cartier might raise a few eyebrows – but even more laughter. Cartier’s 19th-century Tory attitudes and policies resemble those embraced by our government about as much as Queen Victoria’s behaviour resembles the antics of Miley Cyrus. I trust the Québécois will see through this at-tempted deception, while still recognizing Cartier’s invaluable contribution to the shaping and success of Confederation.

Mark DeWolf, Halifax

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‘The real Omar Khadr’

Re Justice, Mercy And The Rule Of Law (editorial, July 10): I have been privileged to correspond with Omar Kadhr during the past 18 months. He is an example of radical forgiveness.

I concur with his lawyer Dennis Edney that “Omar is worthy of all the help I can give.”

Would that all Canadians could see and know the real Omar Khadr. Instead, many choose to believe the line of the Harper government that he is a radical terrorist. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Patricia Houston, Victoria

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