I am looking forward to reading the NDP government’s Position Paper on the reasons for the government’s opposition to the pipeline, especially since the shipment of bitumen transported to the coast will be doubled. The sooner the reasons for the government delaying what appears to be inevitable, the better. The media is already over-simplifying the issue, reducing it to a “No Pipeline” issue vs. a “Go Ahead”.
What the Province is requiring is assurance from the federal government that preparation for the management of a spill is happening at the same time that the pipeline is being built. That is surely not an exceptional demand: to require that the inland waterways of B.C. be protected, in the event of a major spill of bitumen, one of the most toxic and polluting materials in the world. B.C.’s coastal waters are a network of fiords in narrow inlets. One can’t imagine the consequences of a spill in any of them.
I remind readers that the majority of the votes that elected the NDP came from those communities at the coast, in Vancouver and Burnaby. The NDP were opposed to the pipeline to our coast, and got elected because of their opposition to the pipeline through B.C.
This isn’t an issue about pipelines. The federal government has already approved the pipeline to the coast. What Horgan is demanding is that our coastal waters be protected in the event of a spill. Since there has been no word from the feds about a plan to recover from and contain a spill, it takes a stretch to believe our coastal waters will be safe.
This isn’t about jobs. It’s about environmental protection of what we hold precious; our water and the wildlife in and around it. Once bitumen and oil are on the ocean they must be transported thousands of miles over that ocean to China. Follow the money trail, as they say. Who benefits? In the meantime, the assurance that Horgan and his party are requiring is by no means unreasonable.
Boycotting because of the wine issue seems patently ridiculous.
Greyhound bus is pulling out of northern British Columbia and many smaller communities across the province. The best answer is to establish a publicly owned and operated highway bus network across B.C.
A public bus company to connect communities is an old idea whose time has come again. In 1946, Tommy Douglas’s first Co-operative Commonwealth Federation government established the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) to interconnect urban and rural communities across Saskatchewan. The STC efficiently provided passenger and freight services to rural and urban residents alike until Canada’s most prominent opponent of climate action, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, shut it down just this past summer.
Like BC Ferries and public transit in urban areas, STC was publicly funded. The people of Saskatchewan thought that was money well spent. According to an editorial in the Regina Leader-Post, “readers reacted with almost unanimous opposition” to the idea of shutting STC down. If highway bus service is going to be publicly funded, it should be run as a public service instead of handing it over to a corporation like Greyhound with a track record of failure. Like urban public transit, highway bus service needs to operate as a unified network with shared ticketing; seamless transfers are essential.
The wildfires in the Interior last summer illustrate why B.C. needs a public highway bus service. Instead of stepping up, Greyhound left people in communities like 100 Mile House without service. When the evacuation was ordered, seniors from 100 Mile ended up traveling overnight on uncomfortable school buses to Prince George. B.C. needs a bus service with the mandate and capacity to help in emergencies.
One of the benefits of good highway bus service is safety. The recently established BC Transit bus service on the Highway of Tears is largely about providing safe transportation for Indigenous women and girls. But the Highway of Tears is not the only place where rural women have to choose between isolation and the danger of hitchhiking.
The danger of highway crashes is also crucial. Parents in rural areas know that young drivers travelling long distances on snowy highways sometimes don’t arrive safely. Many seniors don’t feel capable of long winter driving trips. Regardless of age, driving long distances in cars is hazardous; leaving more of the highway driving to professionals is common sense.
It is also common sense that we need to overcome our over-dependence on private automobiles to fulfill Canada’s Paris climate commitments. We must reduce the climate pollution that is fueling ever more destructive wildfires and floods. The federal-provincial Climate Framework commits B.C. to shift transportation spending away from urban freeway expansion projects, which is an obvious way to fund a public highway bus service.
Climate action in transportation cannot be isolated to urban areas. Would you choose to save money and reduce your carbon footprint by living without a car if that meant you couldn’t get home to visit your family? The B.C. NDP won’t be able to meet their promise to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from transportation by 30 per cent in only 12 years without much better highway bus service.
Good highway bus service is also essential for the economic health of smaller communities, and the province as a whole. If you need a car to get there, tourism is unlikely to thrive now that many younger people don’t own cars. And if you need a car to get to and from your rural town, both seniors and younger people are less likely to want to live there.
A public highway bus service would improve the economic, environmental, and social health of B.C. communities. We know what Tommy Douglas would do.
R. Joanne Banks, Campbell River, B.C.
Bruce Bidgood, Terrace, B.C.
Eric Doherty, Victoria, B.C.
Members of Council of Canadians