Merits of context

Op-eds Opinions Uncategorized

To begin with, I agree that reading the National Energy Board (NEB) document on the Enbridge pipeline proposal is a good idea.  However, I don’t agree with the way your article was written.  It is, at points, belittling, incoherent, jumbled, and reeks of rage.

First telling people they, “. . . should put their cynicism on the shelf . . .” regarding the report, reveals not only an aura of superiority by the writers to the readers by telling us what we should do, but an ignorance of the wider context of the external processes affecting the report.  I prefer to give readers the benefit of the doubt that they are critically reflective enough to decide whether or not a cynical approach is

Second, your choice of examples claiming that critiques of the project are clearly identified and acknowledged bear questioning, particularly the example of the Michel First Nation, which was simply a documented statement and provides no insight as to whether the NEB took this into consideration. The following quote from the NEB report shows the depth of understanding this committee lacks of First Nations culture and values by deciding for them what constitutes Aboriginal cultural and spiritual practices:
“The Panel does not share the view of some Aboriginal groups that the impacts associated with this project during construction and routine operations would eliminate the opportunity for Aboriginal groups to maintain their cultural and spiritual practices and the pursuit of their traditional uses and interests associated with the lands, waters, or resources.”

Third, the statement, “. . . the Report is simply documenting the changing of the tide,” is incorrect. The report does not document any changing of the tide. The report identifies issues of concern that arose during the NEB hearings.  It doesn’t even make sense metaphorically unless you decide to bring politics into it, then you’re going beyond your stated context for examination of the report. Reading the report without the necessary political context is like believing tap water originates in the tap while ignoring the infrastructure and origins of the actual water. Reports do not exist in a political vacuum; where is the context?

The statement that, “general opposition is more solid than ever” does not reflect recent public opinion polls that suggest more support for the Northern Gateway. This editorial also claims that the only reason the panel’s decision warrants controversy is because it “swings the process in favour of pro-pipeline parties.”  This does not make logical sense when considered along with the statement in the previous paragraph that the “public and provincial opinions remain divided.”  If this is the case, then it would be logical to conclude that if the project was not approved there would be a similar public reaction from those who are pro-pipeline.

In concluding, the editorial opines, “Connections will probably do little to dissuade those convinced that the decision is arbitrary and unfair.” While this may be correct, it again lacks context; there is nothing arbitrary about the government’s ideological bent that Canada’s future is as an energy superpower. To think that this does not influence those judging the proposal is naive.

Overall, this article does little to promote engagement with the NEB report, clarifies the editorial staff’s pro-pipeline bent, and increases polarization between those for and against the proposal.