Following the First World War, the French, thinking to forever ban the Hun from their fair soil, laid out and executed plans to build a line of fortifications that would keep them safe from the ravages of marauding spike helmets. There were voices who warned that this was fighting the last war, and that there was a good chance that their Maginot Line was an expensive folly that would solve nothing, especially since the French declined to wall themselves off from the Belgians, secure in the (?) knowledge that the Germans would never come into France through Belgium. We know how that worked out.
So here’s the latest plan from those in the Trudeau/Clark government bureau of Magical Maginot Musings, a great way to blow a big part of the loot allotted for protection from marauding Kinder Morgan tankers (the part being spend by Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, apparently not Trudeau’s $1.5 Bn-over ten years), a series of five oil-spill response bases, as outlined in this article from the Victoria Times-Colonist. These would be located at Ucluelet, Port Alberni, Beecher Bay, Saanich, Duncan, and Nanaimo, with an additional base on the Fraser River. These constitute a fabulous way of disbursing funds to Port Authorities, but there ought to be considerable skepticism about the effectiveness of these bases is redressing the effects of a middling to large dilbit spill along the tanker route through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and into the Strait of Georgia before entering into a terminal on Burrard Inlet or some such place. It really looks as though this plan has about the same real value as a pat on the head and a “There! There!” in averting the inevitablility of a discharge. Responsible people don’t talk about cleaning up oil spills, they talk about avoiding them. Those who do talk about cleaning them up are generally working hard to get to the money represented by the shipping of tar and are notorious for letting the dollar signs floating through their field of fantasy cloud the reality of an accident and a subsequent spill.
Our mayor’s quoted response is puzzling: Yes, he says he’d rather not have the tankers, but actually, we could do school tours through the facility and that would bring in tourist traffic and dollars. We can do better. Ruttan was at the forefront of efforts to protect the airshed when BC Hydro wanted to put in a gas-fired generating station, and an active participant in the fight to keep the coal port out of our community and to shut down the idea of the Raven Coal operation. Why so wishy=washy on this? It gives a glimmer of a somewhat unhealthy relationship that exists between the City and the Port Authority, where the Port Authority, as a proponent of all things Harperite, exerts almost total control over the waterfront and the City seems at least to be a weak sister in capitulating, and at worst to be an enabler to the kind of lack of long-term vision that would have the sense to eliminate the risk of dilbit spills by eliminating the tankers, by not approving pipelines.
The aforementioned lack of vision and the haste to get things in place has cost us dearly through history and continues to characterize our political and economic dealings, a phenomenon that is likely to continue until such time as citizens become aware that they can, and must, delay the gratification of all the shiny baubles and tackle the long, hard decisions first by working in concert with others of like mind.