What Canada offers to its citizens isn’t glamorous or sexy, and it doesn’t inspire the beating of drums. It’s peace, order and good governance.
These modest goals are accepted and expected by most Canadians. We may even have tended to take them for granted.
But our peace and order have been threatened. For the past two years, pandemic-related restrictions have disrupted our livelihoods and our lives. One reaction to these disruptions has been the demonstrations by truckers. Although relatively peaceful, those protests have not been orderly.
Far less peaceful has been the vicious, violent and dangerous attack on the Coastal GasLink site near Morice River in northern B.C. Just after midnight on Feb. 17, masked thugs attacked the site, threatening workers with axes and flares and destroying millions of dollars of equipment, vehicles and buildings.
The destruction led to leaks and spills that negatively impact the environment. Also destroyed was the road into the site. Fires and other impediments were set, delaying police access and any attempts to help protect workers or minimize the damage.
Threatening people with axes and flares, vandalizing property, tearing up roads and impeding the police are actions diametrically opposed to peace and order. This kind of behaviour violates many of our laws and is certainly not consistent with the norms of a civil society.
We don’t know who committed these crimes, although the police are certainly trying to find out. We don’t know why they did it, although there’s speculation. Certain hereditary Indigenous chiefs have been opposed to this project, even though the elected councils of all the First Nations whose territory is impacted by the project have signed on and are in favour of it.
There’s no justification for the illegal and ugly methods the perpetrators used. Having no evidence, let us assume that their motivation wasn’t just to seek higher compensation for the use of resources on their traditional territory, but rather it was to spare the environment from the impact of using carbon-based fuel, namely natural gas.
Reducing or eliminating the use of carbon-based fuels is the goal of many environmentalists, who hopefully will find less abhorrent means to attain it. In the long run, it’s a very worthy goal that will help us live long and prosper on our finite planet.
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However, we must not act too hastily.
Good governance not only means maintaining peace and order but also ensuring people can meet their basic needs. In Canada, this not only means food, clothing and shelter but also a reliable and affordable supply of energy, including heat in our Canadian winters and cooling in summers that are getting hotter.
We have neither the infrastructure nor the technology to enable Canada and the rest of the world to function without using at least some carbon-based fuels. Power shortages and outages in Britain and China have affected individuals and industries when the use of coal was restrained before alternative energy sources were in place.
The perfect is often the enemy of the good. Eliminating all carbon-based energy is a goal we can aspire to once we’re sure we have in place enough cleaner energy to allow people and societies to run the economy and keep the lights on. Moving from coal and oil to relatively cleaner natural gas is a step we can take in the interim.
Good governance not only enables us to move to a cleaner environment with a secure supply of affordable energy. It also enforces the rule of law so we can continue to enjoy peace and order.
Troy Media columnist Roslyn Kunin is a consulting economist and speaker. For interview requests, click here.
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