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Folksinger Valdy on pipelines Add to ...

Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter Valdy [Valdemar Horsdal] recently released the CD Read Between the Lines. His national tour stops at Hugh’s Room in Toronto on April 24, London, Ont., on April 26 and the Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso, N.S., July 5-7. www.valdy.com

Where do you live?

Kathleen and I live on a lake on an island in the Canadian waters of the Salish Sea. We’ve been on the south end of Saltspring Island since 1985.

How would a completed Northern Gateway pipeline affect you personally?

The Northern Gateway pipeline will not be completed. It is already affecting me professionally, as many presenters, attendees, fans and friends are working in the [oil] patch.

I do shows for oil field services companies. Gary [sometime touring partner Gary Fjellgaard] and I were sponsored by Suncor in Fort Mac [Fort McMurray, Alta.] recently, and I hold opinions that certainly would inflame those relationships.

Personally, the pipeline represents a study in democracy. Since it is not a fait accompli, the fate of the pipeline is truly in the hands of the people.

Have you ever seen or encountered a pipeline?

I have driven beside pipelines, sailed and motored over pipelines, waited in highway lineups for pipeline equipment and construction and have pals who’ve gone off the scale with radiation from weld-checking and are now living with challenges. I’ve never actually built one or ridden one.

Are you in favour of a Northern Gateway pipeline? Or any pipeline? The proposed Keystone XL pipeline to the United States, for example.

I agree with a need to move liquids and gases, and pipelines do it best.

I am not in favour of the Northern Gateway pipeline. The proposed Keystone pipeline seems like a decent option – economically, politically and possibly environmentally. The flatter the better is a good design concept for moving anything anywhere, reducing risk factors and encroachment.

In your travels professionally around the country, what’s your sense of Canadians’ understanding and acceptance of pipelines?

As a mobile population, everyone accepts the need to pump fluids, and those I encounter confirm this opinion. Most of those I meet are opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Does the more people know alter those opinions?

I believe in advertising so, yes, opinions can be shifted. Whether this is based on a broad understanding of a subject, or spin, is an individual outcome. I’m in favour of being well educated or informed before making decisions.

Is the pipeline debate emotion or science? Do we have to choose between safeguarding the environment or job creation/economic development?

The debate is an exchange – a pushed, resisted, withdrawn, remounted and volatile ebb and flow of fact and opinion, thus science and emotion co-mingled.

The emotion is real, but the science is not always so.

Have you witnessed significant differences in opinion between East and West or aboriginal and white?

I would reduce the differences in opinion to brain function: Some accept and advocate without questioning, some weigh significant factors and form opinions.

Is there such a thing as sustainable development?

I feel this is an oxymoron. Continuing development, arrested development, appropriate development may all exist, but “sustainable” suggests either a reuse scenario or an unending supply of resource. I suppose that a singular enterprise may be kept going by renewing funding, raw materials and scheduling, but it’s the effort here that’s sustainable, not the actual project.

What do we do with the oil that’s Canada’s greatest resource if the pipelines are nixed?

Like Denmark, I feel Canada’s greatest resource is our population.

Regarding oil, we could process our resource, in world-class facilities built adjacent to the extraction sites, and export a finished product, ensuring jobs for Canadians and a significantly higher return on the final product than is offered by selling the raw resource. Transporting the final product can be done by rail, road and/or pipeline.

The Harper government is committed to pipelines. Canadians have elected them with a majority. Should that say enough?

With about a third of the votes electing them, the Harper government has taken a majority hold on our nation and is disassembling the country we’ve built to replace it, law by law, with their vision of a servile democracy.

Do we have to choose between the environment and economic development and jobs?

We don’t have a choice between environment and jobs/economic development – one follows the other. We create an environment where an enterprise can flourish and we then attempt to make it a success. The environment always comes first, followed by the activity. We don’t collate papers in a wind, or grind metal in a kids’ classroom. First we ensure an appropriate environment, then we commence economic development.

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