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one step to the right, one step back…

September 15, 2014

 

I saw what would have made a great picture today, of construction workers, of bent backs and calcified boredom and dust and white hats and the great distance between the classes – but then I smiled to myself, for I thought who hasn’t already seen that photograph – the great black and whites of the working class from the ’50’s or ’60’s – and so for me to take that picture again would be so post-modern ironic cliche that no one, when they looked at it, would see anything.

Who sees the distance between the white hats and the black flagman? (Watching as I do from my afternoon cafe patio seat.) Or the sidewalk university girls who walk by indifferently, and the slight breeze that catches the hem to reveal the briefest glimpse of the Siren’s sweet call. Or the linebacker dump truck drivers at break, standing together and talking, Tim Horton’s in one hand, a cigarette in the other.

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If you live here (Nova Scotia) long enough you will see that the world here is nothing more than a grand facade of “we only hire family and friends”. I thought Ontario had been bad for this sort of thing! But Nova Scotia takes it to a whole new level.

King’s College – that besieged bastion of Liberal Arts on the west side of the Dalhousie campus, makes a valiant effort to hire the very best of what they can afford – no matter where they come from. But no one listens to old school liberal arts universities these days, so no one pays attention to their successes.

It’s no wonder most of the ‘come aways’ and new immigrants leave as soon as they can. I’ve been here long enough now to see how vastly experienced and educated outsiders are passed over for local applicants with less than 1/2 the job experience, but who also happen to be a friend-of-a-friend – a relationship that goes back to the schoolyard somewhere in Cape Breton, or in the Valley.

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The last two provincial governments tried hard to get us to believe that fracking would be good for the province. They wrote a report telling us how many fabulous jobs it would create, how much money it would potentially put into the province’s piggy bank, how it would not impact that dramatically on the environment. They held their public consultations. The media got behind them. With fracking, we were told, everyday would be sunshine for a provincial economy in decline.

But we weren’t buying. A new fracking disaster happens almost everyday in the US. Half the water in Texas now contains arsenic. Natural gas is now blowing out of suburban bathroom faucets in Pennsylvania. State legislatures are passing laws making it illegal for doctors to tell their patients how the fracking chemicals are making them sick.

So, the newly elected provincial Liberals saw the writing on the wall and called for a moratorium on fracking just two days after the official 350 page pro-fracking report was released. The business community was outraged. The Halifax Chronicle – the city’s only newspaper – has been running exasperated editorials almost everyday since the anti-fracking verdict was announced.

“How could we be so short-sighted?” “Don’t we know how poor this province is?” “Don’t we realize that everyone else is doing it?”

Some polls had the no vote running at about 75% of the population but you would never know it by the newspaper coverage. They talk about support in the business community and how 80% of business leaders were in favour of fracking. Yes, they admit, there are “challenges” to “fracking safely” but “we have our best minds on the problem” and we will minimize the problems with the proper legislation. The editorials lament a weak government, who cannot rise to the challenge, but can only give the people what they want.

Funny how our business and media elites hate democracy when it doesn’t give them the results that they want. Funny, how they dismiss our environmental concerns as shortsighted…

 

P.S. Today, I listened on CBC Radio how global warming has opened up the northwest passage and that Alberta – now that a B.C. pipeline to the coast may not be an option – is going to ship its crude to the great eastern markets via this new open Arctic channel.

The very industry that is the leading cause of global warming now will be the very first to take advantage of global warming – and the irony of this was completely lost on the industry spokesman, whose only reply was that the Russians have already been doing this for years.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 16, 2014 2:05 am

    Everything is very open with a very clear description of the challenges.
    It was really informative. Your site is very useful.

    Thanks for sharing!

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