Saturday, May 30, 2009

NWT Communities duped by eco-thug

Much transpired over my week off on the Embarrassingly Amateur Golf Tour (EAGT).

In my absence, a renegade band of root and berry-eating Capital City councillors invaded my little town.

Cave-in Kennedy and a few other anemic little vegans foisted their disapproval over the oil sands and decided a resolution passed by the Northwest Territories Association of Communities (NWTAC) might help halt new development.

“This is a life or death situation for people of the North,” Kennedy mewled, his lower lip quivering.

The resolution calls on the Government of the Northwest Territories to ask the Government of Alberta to halt new oil sands approvals until it negotiates an enforceable trans-boundary water agreement with the NWT. 

The Athabasca and Slave River systems have become the most-tested water bodies in North America, but that doesn't stop the eco-thugs from spreading their campaign of fear, misinformation and outright lies. 

Without any facts or data to support them, Councillors Kennedy, Sheel-argh Montgomery and the rest of the protein-deprived knobs at Ecology North are claiming elevated arsenic levels, cancer-causing agents and imminent doom for anyone living downstream of the oil sands.

All 33 communities bought into this steaming pile and voted in favour of the resolution.

In response, Alberta Premier Ed Stalmach was nonplused and to the point.

“Northwest what? Tell them they can go fuck themselves,” Stelmach said.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fire, brimstone and bitumen

In a bizarre attempt to garner some media attention, the environmental movement south of 60 sought divine intervention this week, when they mobilized a group of Alberta Quakers to make a pilgrimage to the Athabasca oil sands.

Guess what? The Communist Broadcasting Corp. in Yellowknife were eager to inform us of this “revelation.”

Joslyn Oosenbrug, the latest host of Breaking Wind, the CBC morning show, interviewed the representative of the Quakers about the ethics and morals of providing northern families a decent living.

The script was obviously written by Green Julie, the Sierra Club's bingo caller and the chief propagandist for the O’Reilly Foundation for Northern Poverty. The questions were leading and obviously anti-oilsands. For instance, the reporter continually asked the Quaker if she thought the oil sands were “the devil’s work.”

Things seemed to be going along well enough until Ms. Oosenbrug strayed a few times from the script and actually called the bitumen resource “oil sands,” rather than the erroneous “tar sands” terminology preferred by environmentalists. Even the woman from the Quakers started referring to them as “oil sands.”

You could hear Green muttering in the background of the studio.

“It’s TAR SANDS, you idiot!”

After the third mention of “oil sands” you could hear screaming and an obvious scuffle taking place in the studio.


Loud thumping sounds, a crash, a few expletives screamed and then silence followed.

After about thirty seconds of dead air, you could hear panting and then this:

“Yea….those of you not written into the book of life shall be cast into a lake of flaming tar,” the breathless voice snarled into the microphone.

“This is Green Julie reporting, CBC news, Yellowknife.”

Monday, May 18, 2009

All for none and none for all

As we watched the folks of B.C. elect a new government and as we brace for the return of the NWT’s 16th Legislative Assembly, a friend and I were discussing the benefits of consensus government. It was a short conversation. In fact, the pros are greatly outnumbered by the cons of consensus government.

When I first heard that the NWT was governed by consensus, I thought it was a great system. MLAs are allowed to vote with their hearts and in the interests of their constituents rather than along party lines.

Nice idea, but in practice it fails on so many levels.

Every four years a new batch of MLAs are elected and they are all hoping to change the world in their own image, so they set out to tear down the old and bring in their version of new. There is no continuity, direction or ideology in the transition of power. The only stability comes from the returning MLAs, Deputy Ministers and ADMs (if they have the intestinal fortitude to go through with another term).

There is no clearly elected majority and no organized opposition. MLAs elect the Premier whom choses the Cabinet and the cast offs form the Regular Members -- but those can change as quickly as the political winds blow. There are no focused ideals or planned strategy for meaningful direction or change in the short or long-term.

Without an organized opposition, we see these random pot shots fired from individual MLAs instead of a thought out strategy to force or bring about change. The Regular Member may have a legitimate concern or might just be grinding an axe because they were passed over for Cabinet.

Consensus governance leaves too much room for backroom deals and corruption. The backroom lobbying starts right from the moment MLAs are elected. They are all jockeying for Cabinet posts and capital projects for their ridings. Any MLA will tell you the real decisions are made long before they enter the House.

The voter is at a disadvantage by not knowing the political stripe and philosophical ideals of a candidate. When you know what party the candidate belongs to, you can associate that person to that party’s ideals -- even if you don’t know the candidate personally.

The party system grew out of consensus government because it doesn’t represent the needs of the whole, but rather the parts. This is a very large jurisdiction with many parts, with many conflicting interests. These parts will never achieve lasting or meaningful consensus and to pretend that they will is only to perpetuate a myth based on emotion.

Functional democracy requires decisions based on logical facts, rather than ones based on sentimental or emotional dreams.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Regular membership has its privilege

Last week’s Frostbite Falls Fishwrap reported that Nahende MLA Kevin Menicoche had some unexplained expenses on the government’s credit card.

Four mysterious charges, totaling over $1,300, were billed to Menicoche’s Diners Club card while on a taxpayer-funded junket to China last November. The former Chair of the Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight refused to elaborate. 

“They were charges from somebody else,” Menicoche said. “I consider the matter closed at this time.”

Pardon me?

He considers it closed?? He loses control of our credit card and has no explanation for it?

Somehow the reporter lets him off the hook here, but it should have gone something like this:

“Sorry sir, but that’s not how accountability works. The deal is this: we give you our credit card, you use it responsibly and account for your expenses and we’ll allow you to keep using it.”

“Now, let’s start again.”

“What are these four charges on our credit card?”

“Who incurred these charges on our credit card?”

“How did our credit card leave your care and control?”

“Why should we allow you to have care and control of our credit card again?”

I am so sick of hearing the words “open and accountable” and “transparent” bandied about by politicians who seemingly don’t even understand what the words mean. For this guy to just blow this off without explanation is beyond arrogance -- it’s unbelievable.

The reporter alludes that the card may have been lost or stolen, but why would the MLA be ashamed or reluctant to admit that?

Without an explanation, we can only assume that the MLA got drunk in a Shanghai massage parlour and bought a round of rubdowns and happy endings for himself and his entourage. Since Menicoche is allowing us to assume the worst, the worst must have transpired.

The Fishwrap is perpetually railing on against government about not spending enough or spending too much, but this one actually deserves some ink. Here’s hoping the reporter finishes the story.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My first curmudgeon

It’s about this time each year I start to think back about the first real curmudgeon I ever met.

Lloyd was always hanging around over at my friend Bob’s place, having tea with Mrs. Turner. I suppose he was retired from the mine, but I never knew him well enough to ask.

He was a portly man – about 300 lbs, with big, meaty hands and an exterior as gruff as it comes. He chewed tobacco and always had some brown drool leaking from the corner of his scowling maw. 

One day I went to pick up Bob and Lloyd was at his usual spot at the kitchen table.

Mrs. Turner called upstairs for Bob and I waited by the door.

Bob came downstairs and was tying his shoes when Lloyd asked, “Why isn’t the boy in school?”

“It’s a holiday,” Mrs. Turner replied. “Victoria Day.”

“Victoria Day? Are they still dragging that dead whore around?” Lloyd spat back.

Bob and I sniggered our way outside and almost fell over laughing.

So every Victoria Day after that we would always go out of our way to set each other up to repeat Lloyd’s fond remembrance of  Britian’s longest sitting monarch.

“Long weekend? What’s the holiday?”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oil sands cloud rational thought in downstream news room

It was not quite the same as the big scoop the reporter had on The Simpsons with Blinky, the three-eyed fish, but Green Julie at the Commie Broadcasting Corporation figured she had a lock on the Pulitzer, when she filed this stinker about a “mutated fish” downstream from the Athabasca oil sands:


It took only a few hours before the story was repeated on news wires around the world, but that was the last we heard for seven months.

Fast forward to March 17, 2009. The same reporter files this story debunking the mutant fish story she’d filed back in August:


In the interview with the professor, he said he’d determined this was not a mutation as soon as he saw the photos and immediately informed the Chief of the fact.

For seven months the Chief had his people (and the world) believe that one of their primary food sources was mutating because of down stream pollution from the oil sands.

Green Julie asked Chief Poitras why he didn’t disclose the findings. I’m paraphrasing here, but the Chief felt it wasn’t his obligation.

I don’t know why the reporter took seven months to do a follow-up on what was obviously a very alarming and bizarre news story, but in my mind the headline should have read “Chief suppresses information on ‘mutated’ fish.”

I think these oil sands have mutated some brains around a certain publicly-funded newsroom in Yellowknife if this counts as responsible journalism.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Up Here Goes Green

For some reason, the glossy rag Up Here Beeswax hired Green Julie to report on the national embarrassment that is also known as the Joint Review Panel (JRP).

The JRP has been tasked with compiling a report on environmental impacts of the proposed Mackenzie Valley Gas Project – a 1,200 km pipeline that will carry gas from Inuvik, NT to Zama City, AB. So far, they are about three-and-a-half years behind schedule.

Green Julie, aside from being the Sierra Club’s bingo caller, sometimes can be heard bemoaning the evils of the “tar” sands on the Communist Broadcasting Corporation.

In the article, The Review That Will Not End, the soy latte-slurping Green wags her finger at everyone she thinks is responsible for the delays to the JRP.

She blames the nasty oil companies, who crumpled under the sheer volume of requests for information by her co-conspirators in their plot to banish industry from the North.

Her primary source in the article is none other than Kevin “Squeaky” O’Reilly – the infamous Capital City eco-thug who did his best to stop the diamond mines and is now looking to throw himself in front of the Mackenzie Valley Gas Project.

Green Julie ignores the fact that aside from the gross incompetence of the panel’s slack-jawed members, the primary reason for this review taking so long is the hundreds of ridiculous “interveners” allowed at the panel hearings. O’Reilly and his ilk heaped so many pages of inane and redundant testimony on the panel, they simply choked.

There are over 100,000 pages of testimony to review from O’Reilly as an individual along with presentations from his allied comrades at Canadian Arctic Resources Committee, Alternatives North, Out North, the YWCA and on and on and on.

Any NGO they could think of were thrown onto the agenda of these hearings to derail the proceedings, but Green Julie fails to mention any of that.

“Kevin O’Reilly is sympathetic, saying the panel should take its time to write a thorough report.” Yes, not surprising. Those are almost identical words used by our Member of Parliament, Dennis Bevington, in his own special presentation to the JRP. “Take your time,” the Groucho Marxist urged the panel, as they dozed away in their own drool puddles.

I wonder if the banks are going to say “Take your time,” to contractors who’ve borrowed and made huge investments in this project? I wonder if the shareholders of the energy companies are saying “Take your time, we don’t need a return for a decade or so.”

They’ve taken enough time. Suspend their funding, take what they’ve completed and finish it. The whole JRP idea was a charade from the beginning anyway. Everyone knows the National Energy Board is going to make their own decision. Let’s be realistic. The JRP was only window dressing. No one was going to give the likes of Barry Greenland and Gina Dolphus power to stop a project so important to the country.

That would be as silly as hiring an environmental activist to write for a business magazine.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Everyone's mom

A couple years back, my mom came to Inuvik for a visit. I took her for a tour around town and it seemed everywhere we went, people mentioned Nellie.

My mom asked “Who is this ‘Nellie’ everyone keeps talking about?”

I took her up to IRC and sure enough, Nellie was in the corner office and welcomed us in.

“Nellie, this is my mom,” I said. “Mom, this is Nellie – everyone’s mom.”

And she is. Nellie spends her days (and most nights) working for the betterment of people of Inuvik and the Beaufort Delta. Certainly Inuvialuit take a priority, but often times the good of the whole is the good of the part and Nellie realizes that.

Dealing with shrewd government and industry lawyers and the sometimes infantile politicians on a daily basis, Nellie has built an empire for Inuvialuit and in the process, a better life for all of us here.

While waiting for a flight one time with Nellie, I watched her take a call from Henry Sykes, then President of ConocoPhillips, hang up and make a call about securing enough dry fish for a community feast. This memory epitomizes Nellie to me; one of the most powerful women in the country, who can still make time for the little details that mean so much to those she represents.

So Happy Mothers Day to my mom and ‘everyone’s mom.’ 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

We're just here for the peyote

Each week the Frostbite Falls Fishwrap reprints a photo from the Rene Fumoleau collection. Normally these photos are beautiful snapshots of history, but this week it was just a shameless plug for the ego of the Fishwrap's Bruce Valpy. 
The starved-for-fame tabloid coach couldn't resist this bit of Narcissistic nostalgia to further cheapen the pages of this week's rag.

Bevington bails on gun vote

I’ve never been a real “gun nut,” but I’ve lived my whole live within easy reach of one.

My dad taught me to shoot and hunt and some of my fondest memories are of hunting birds with dad. Growing up, I probably ate more wild game than I did beef or chicken. Hunting was not something different or exceptional, it was life as we knew it and as it has been for many people in rural and remote areas. 

On April 22, there was a vote in the House of Commons to end the amnesty to gun owners whom have not yet registered their guns. Despite years of railing on about how he would work to repeal this boondoggle legislation, our MP, Dennis Bevington, decided not to show up for work that day. His comrades in the NDP all voted in favour of ending the amnesty, but Bevington didn’t have the balls to stand up for Northerners or with his comrades.

The Groucho Marxist told the Frostbite Falls Fishwrap that he’s waiting for the government to get the wording just right before he honours the House with his presence to vote.

“I want to see the government actually bring forward changes to the registry that would work for people in the North,” Bevington said.

This, coming from the same guy who said Ethel Blondin-Andrew “betrayed the people of the North,” when she voted for the Liberal gun registry. “The importance of hunting and trapping in the North can't be understated.”

Apparently it can. If you don’t show up to represent the people who elected you, that’s a huge understatement.


The bingo callers fell silent

Kudos to the fishwrap for reporting and editorializing on this latest example of Bevington's backsliding. The Berkenstocks and socks crowd over at the Communist Broadcasting Corporation ignored it completely.

Not surprising, I think Bevington is keeping their bongs gurgling and well-stoked with wood pellets.