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

Slow melt at high elevations near Revelstoke this spring

At one location on Mt. Fidelity there is double the usual snowpack for early July

Summerland Ornamental Gardens remain closed

Staff and volunteers continue to weed and maintain plants

Canada’s deficit result of investing in Canadians: Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity

Minister Mona Fortier said the government is working on the next steps as the economy restarts

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Morning Start: Naps could save your life

Your morning start for Wednesday, July 9, 2020

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

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

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read