No tankers wanted here, suh!

At the behest of the very effective Dogwood Institute, here’s my letter to the new Liberal party environment critic,Gerard Kennedy. Oil tankers in the Great Bear Rainforest region, and the attendant Enbridge pipeline, are such monumentally bad ideas that they take my breath away. If we put all that money and effort into sustainable energy strategies and technologies … we’d be there in 20 years. We’d never have another serious energy crisis, or climate crisis, or oil war. Europe is well on its way. I want us to be too.

Dear Mr. Kennedy (,

As you know, there’s a controversy going on in B.C. over the connected issues of oil tankers and the proposed Enbridge pipeline from the tar sands.

I am a resident of Tofino, in Clayoquot Sound. But i also consider myself a citizen of an ever-shrinking world, and i am doing what i can to make the world a better place for both our children and the larger ecosystems we all depend implicitly upon for our very lives. I am deeply concerned over how corporate needs — for raw materials, for weakened legislation, for unlimited profit — are trumping human needs in every sphere. Our present government understands nothing, it seems, but economic growth, and is content to lay waste to the earth in its bid for a “healthy” economy, no matter how unlivable that world is for people.

Your Liberal party is Canada’s best hope for widening this ruinously narrow vision of our future, and as Liberal Party of Canada Environment Critic you are well placed to have a positive influence over what transpires in coming years. We both know that allowing oil tankers to traverse Hecate Strait, Dixon Entrance, and Queen Charlotte Sound will over time guarantee that oil spills will happen.

Of even greater concern to me is that continuing to build oil infrastructure, especially around dirty tar sands oil, only makes our climate crisis worse, and at the same time distracts us from building a sustainable energy infrastructure. This path is pouring money down a rathole, and makes the consequences for our climate future even more dire than they will apparently be already. It is a grossly irresponsible choice for a government to make.

I urge you and the Liberal party to do what is right: please commit, loudly and publicly, to a legislated ban on oil tankers through Canada’s Pacific north coast. And time is of the essence — please do it before the end of the year.

Thank you for a principled, meaningful stand on environmental issues!

~greg blanchette, Tofino

Losing to Portugal

Well, it finally came home in a way the head-in-the-sand Harper government couldn’t spin away or ignore: world censure, in the guise of losing the UN Security Council membership to (oh, the shame) Portugal. Commentators have largely put the blame on our foreign policy in recent years, and Conservative efforts to blame Michael Ignatieff’s critical remarks have been roundly derided.

Here’s my two cents, sent off yesterday on the hope that my MP can have some influence on the monomania that is our PM. I’m trying a new tack — less ranting and berating, more mollycoddling and cajoling. I’ll let you know what they respond.

Dear Mr. Lunney and the Conservative caucus,

It’s unfortunate that Canada didn’t get voted onto the UN Security Council. But there may be a salutary upside to the experience, and an opportunity to learn. I see the vote as a pronouncement on Canada’s international presence in the last decade, and its performance as a citizen of the world. And from that point of view, we have been lacking.

I don’t see this as a direct reflection on the Conservative government, so please don’t take it personally. But we have not been forthcoming — indeed, in some cases we’ve been outright obstructionist — on several issues that other countries perceive as important. Climate change is the foremost example in my mind. Many countries of the world will be harshly impacted in coming decades, and Canada has been seen in recent years (rightly, in my mind) as strongly favouring its own interests over those of the larger world. So some meaningful movement on climate change would be a great start to rehabilitating Canada’s international reputation.

My fear is that you will take the rejection as an indication that you need better spin, or stronger lobbying, or more control of your already over-controlled message, rather than some substantive policy changes and a concerted effort to become a better world citizen. So i encourage you and your government to step up to the plate, especially in foreign policy and foreign aid. Not too long ago Canada was front and centre in peacekeeping and other international efforts, with an enviable reputation to match. Let’s start moving in that direction again, okay?

greg blanchette, Tofino

Just in case you want to send something off, here are the email addresses. Keep ’em handy for all your participatory democracy needs:

  • “James Lunney” <>
  • “Stephen Harper” <>

Spectacular gibberish

This fun bit of graffiti came my way today (thanks, Warren), and seems to be fitting given the paroxysm-of-the-week going on in Vancouver, where a new downtown bike lane has recently been approved.

Tofino, thankfully, is free of such nonsense — though me do have our share of both gas-foot Neanderthals and boneheaded cyclists. But at least we’re not at the stage of requiring columns like this October 7 one, by Province columnist Ethan Baron, that starts:

An outpouring of spectacular gibberish

What part of cheaper, healthier, environmentally beneficial don’t these folks understand?

There appears to be no end to the irrationality of citizens opposed to separated bike lines in downtown Vancouver. The city’s approval Tuesday of a Hornby Street trial lane has provoked an outpouring of spectacular gibberish.

“These cyclist Nazis are taking over our city,” one Province reader laments on our website. “They will not be happy until all our streets are converted too [sic] bike lanes.”

Another reader complains that drivers are “subsidizing” cyclists….

In the column (link), Baron goes on to demolish the common preconceptions of auto supremacists in refreshingly blunt manner.

Geez, people, the world is changing. I know it’s uncomfortable, but you’ve got to start adapting the habits that you’ve coasted along on for the last 40 years.

List life

I can’t resist picking up little bits of paper with writing on them. Being a compulsive list-jotter myself, I just have to know what people consider significant enough to commit to paper. Usually it’s disappointing, but occasionally i happen upon a gem.

As a teen, i spent a year living with my grandmother in Winnipeg. I sometimes used to write messages on bits of paper and drop them strategically on downtown sidewalks, sometimes with a phone number, to see if anybody would call back. They never did. I would have.

This intriguing list at right i just picked up on the sidewalk by the Co-op parking lot. I like the “big undies — LOL,” and have to wonder why the “beach scene” photo got cut in half.

I was on the way to the office, incidentally, to check my email to see what time tonight’s party started. Turns out the party isn’t for two weeks — something i’d have known if i’d listed it in my daybook.

I’ve had lists on the brain for the last week or so, one in particular: Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s famous “five stages of grief,” from her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. Thing is, at any given time i can never remember more than three items on the damn list. So for posterity’s sake, here it is, courtesy of the Wikipedia page:

  1. Denial – “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me.”
  2. Anger – “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?”
  3. Bargaining – “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…”
  4. Depression – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die… What’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”
  5. Acceptance – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.

Seems to me that list applies to much more in life than just terminal illness. A few things come to mind.

  1. Most life changes, big or small
  2. Many relationships
  3. Finding accommodation in Tofino