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

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Nelson and COVID-19: everything you need to know

Check this page for every local story related to the outbreak

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Convoy of essential service vehicles visits Nelson hospital and care homes

The event was meant as a thank you to front-line workers

240,000 Canadians applied for emergency benefit on morning it opened: Trudeau

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Bars, cannabis sector eligible for $40B credit program from government bank

Applicants must go through their own banks to access the program

Immunocompromised community call for more options to get groceries during COVID-19

One woman has decided to build a greenhouse to ensure she is able to access food throughout pandemic

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

Most Read