Foreign investors won’t live with the damage

We like to label things, and each other. Everyone knows NIMBY — Not In My Back Yard.

We like to label things, and each other. Everyone knows NIMBY — Not In My Back Yard.

It is applied to people who don’t want anything they don’t like in their neighbourhood. They may have good reasons, but they are labelled bigots.

Remember CAVE? Citizens Against Virtually Everything. A former mayor used it for anyone who disagreed with him. Then there is BANANA, Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything. BANANA people are blamed for everything from B.C.’s lower standard of living to dandruff because they oppose developments like pipelines, mines, fracking, oil tankers, etc. BANANAS miss the point that to prosper, we have to take risks. Now federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says those who oppose the Enbridge pipeline are puppets of foreign-funded groups who are trying to hijack the environmental assessment process. No catchy acronym there. In the radio interview I heard, Mr. Oliver couldn’t name the nefarious groups, but he said it was OK for foreign investors to intervene in the assessment process because they are bringing jobs and wealth to Canada.

They are also taking wealth out of Canada while they are at it. And if something goes wrong with the project, the foreign investors may lose money, but they won’t have to live with the damage, and the locals who do aren’t the ones making the profit. The “we” who are taking the highest risks of fracking in the Peace River are the people who live there. True, too, with a pipeline or tanker mishap.

Maybe I’m a backward-thinking radical, but just what is wrong with citizens raising questions over development proposals? If a proposal really is all it’s cracked up to be, won’t the concerns be addressed? If, heaven forbid, there are potential problems, isn’t it a good thing to know about them before it’s too late?

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.