Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaving the Trans Mountain pipeline’s Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee meeting on the Cheam reserve in Chilliwack on June 5, 2018. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress file)

OPINION: Wading through the PR tsunami post-pipeline approval

Those who hate the pipeline, hate Trudeau’s decision – those who hate Trudeau, still hate him

Unlike an earthquake, Tuesday’s federal government “green light” on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project (TMX) was entirely predictable.

But like an earthquake in the ocean, it came with the requisite tsunami, this one a wave of press releases washing across newsroom desks across B.C.

• READ MORE: VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

As soon as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the approval, in they came. By the time I left the office Tuesday, I counted 19 press releases from political parties, business groups, Indigenous organizations, Trans Mountain itself and, of course, environmental activists. And that’s just as a B.C. journalist. I’m sure I’m not on everyone’s mailing list. Others may have seen many, many more.

Depending on the point of view, the unsurprising announcement from a government that owns the pipeline in question, a decision to approve the twinning of the 1,150-kilometre pipeline, tripling the capacity, was “stunning hypocrisy” (Rain Forest Action Network) or “disgraceful in a climate emergency” (Wilderness Committee or “a violent act against young people” (Sierra Club of BC).

From supporters of the pipeline expansion it was tepid support at best, given the small-c conservative politicization of all things Trudeau and/or federally Liberal. If you hate Trudeau, but are pro-pipeline, the response needed to be a half-empty cup.

Well before approval, before 7 a.m., the federal Conservatives put forth leader Andrew Scheer’s response. Building a pipeline is a decision he would have clearly also made, but one he had to criticize: “Cabinet Decision on TMX Meaningless Without Construction Date: Scheer.”

A political “yes, but” response.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business was the least passive-aggressive in support of the decision: “We are pleased to see the federal government’s final decision today granting approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) Project. After more than seven years of review, it’s time to get shovels in the ground.”

The BC Liberal Caucus naturally used the decision to lambaste the governing NDP: “‘Today’s decision by the federal government sends a clear message to John Horgan and the NDP: The time for obstruction is over – their government needs to get out of the way and support this project.’”

Of those initial 19 press releases, the majority were Indigenous groups and environmental organizations issuing missives written long ago, knowing Trudeau would say yes to TMX.

From the Sierra Club to Greenpeace to Stand.Earth to the David Suzuki Foundation, the messages were clear. From Greenpeace: “For the Trudeau government to approve this pipeline after declaring a climate emergency makes about as much sense as pouring gasoline on a burning fire.”

As for Indigenous leaders, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is not impressed. Their headline: “Canada Approves TMX Despite Failing to Achieve Consent: Declaration of Climate Emergency Rings Hollow.”

Tsleil-Waututh Chief Leah George-Wilson called Trudeau’s approval “disappointing” if “not surprising” and vows to fight it in court.

Those who hate Trudeau, hate Trudeau no matter what he does, this file proves it. Those who support environmental responsibility are unsurprised by Scheer’s derision but are left disappointed by a Prime Minister who declared a climate emergency one day and approved the tripling of a pipeline to get diluted bitumen from Alberta to tidewater the next.

Nuanced positions are increasingly tough to hold in politics, division is the order of the day. You are either with us or you are against us. The environment or the economy. Leaders who try to have cake and eat it look greedy.

Political cartoonist Greg Perry drew an unflattering image of Trudeau in a pickle costume musing how it isn’t easy being green. Yes, the PM is in a pickle of his own making. But isn’t that the reality of balancing an economy and an environment?

And as usual, the best cartoonists nail down in one image what a press release writer (or columnist) can lay out in 650-or-so words.

• RELATED: Chilliwack trustees divided on Trans Mountain pipeline route near two schools

• RELATED: Court’s pipeline decision leaves questions for Chilliwack aquifer protection


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Creekside Apartments gets utility charge relief from Port Hardy council

The apartment building is undergoing restoration from a fire that happened back in 2017.

LETTER: It’s a labour of love keeping the Port Alice golf course running

‘We North Islanders are indeed fortunate to have two gorgeous golf club’

Mowi’s B.C. salmon farms achieve environmental certification from independent watchdog

Aquaculture Steward Council certification complies with 500 sustainability and social measures

Island Health provides Baby Beds for infants north of the Malahat

A safe place for baby to sleep is key to reduce sleep-related deaths

Author chronicles churches built by pioneers in the Salish Sea

B.C. author Liz Bryan preserving a little bit of pioneer history in her latest book

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Minivan driver’s speed a factor in fatal 2018 Malahat crash

Driver was travelling at 110 km/h in a construction zone

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Most Read