The following letter to The Common Sense Canadian came from the office of John Weston, Conservative MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, in response to Rafe Mair’s January 28 column. See Rafe’s further reply below.
In Rafe Mair’s article “Environmental ‘Process’ a Myth in Stephen Harper’s Canada”, published on January 28th, 2013, he makes many contentious accusations. Regrettably, he has adopted an extremist position, rejecting a Northern Pipeline in principle, no matter what the cost to the community, to jobs, to our country, or to our economy. When asked at a gathering in North Vancouver where I heard him speak, he rejected out of hand that a Northern Pipeline should be built, under any circumstance. For my part, I maintain an open mind; call for a robust environmental assessment process; and would support a pipeline only if demanding environmental safeguards are in place.
Extremists are sometimes tempted to engage in personal attack rather than to focus the debate on the principles at hand. It saddens me to observe Rafe not only adopt an extremist position, but also to yield to that temptation in his January 28th piece. Over the years, I have expressed my admiration for him, when I worked for him as BC Minister responsible for Constitutional Affairs; when he took a stand on Senate Reform, that I still endorse today; and when he performed so passionately as one of our Province’s most listened-to talk show hosts. I still admire Rafe for his knowledge and the conviction of his beliefs.
But I regret it when he undermines his own credibility and respect by reducing important arguments, about the environment and other things, to personal attack. He can still be a strong voice of influence in our Province without stooping so low.
Rafe Mair responds:
Of course I’m an extremist when it comes to preserving our environment, as I would be defending my wife and family.
John continually ignores the fact that spills from the proposed Enbridge line and consequent tanker traffic are not “if” but “when”. Even the federal Environment Department tells us that – not to mention Enbridge itself.
BEING AGAINST A PROJECT THAT IS BOUND TO SPILL, WITH HORRENDOUS CONSEQUENCES FOR MY PROVINCE, YOU’RE DAMNED TOOTING I’M AN EXTREMIST.
This applies equally to Kinder Morgan and its proposal to massively ramp up oil tanker traffic through Burrard Inlet.
What is the process Weston suggests for once sacred fish habitat? The same appalling process that contaminates the “run of river” and Gateway exercises? Why won’t Weston be honest (a matter I will return to) – and admit that in the case of Gateway and presumably Kinder Morgan the Minister and Prime Minister has said they will go ahead regardless of what the Joint Review Panel recommends. These are like “Soviet show trials” – first the decision, then the process; done deals are given a fake process to make them look good.
Now as to Weston’s “honesty”.
At this very meeting Weston made it appear he was supporting “process”. There is no other word for that – he was lying through his teeth. He wouldn’t utter a peep because it was stuck inside the Budget Bill, thus beyond the ability of the parliamentary poodles in the Conservative Party to speak against it – no matter what was in it.
This bundling of a contentious issue within the budget is a parliamentary disgrace as Weston well knows and he is a part of it. Weston voted forBill C-38 because if he did not, he would say farewell to a hoped-for cabinet post – but even more, he would have been tossed out of caucus, thus out of politics. (If anyone is in doubt, just google John Nunziata)
John Weston did not support the removal of habit protection out of any personal principle but because he put party and his own political survival ahead of protection of our sacred fish. In short, when Weston told the meeting he was supporting the bill on principle, he was LYING.
I must remind Weston that when he sought my advice as to whether or not he should run, this was the very conundrum I warned he would constantly face.
I might close by saying that I couldn’t believe Weston’s abysmal ignorance of the 7 species of salmon we have on this coast. He represents a coastal riding and he knows nothing about the very soul of our province, not to mention the staple food of many First Nations.
If Weston would like to debate this issue with me I would be delighted.