Friday, July 3, 2009

The little search engine that could

My hat is off to Anne Crossman and Tom Zubko at Permafrost Media for finally accessing the costs associated with the Joint Review Panel.

For those of you who don’t know, Permafrost Media is an aggregate news gathering service funded solely by donations and Mr. Zubko himself. This tiny operation of one employee achieved what no other news gathering organization had the balls, budget or news sense to go after.

I wouldn’t expect this brand of investigative journalism to come from the Frostbite Falls Fishwrap, where reporters are only concerned with investigating how they will fill this week’s quota of filler to slap in around the ads. Most reporters won't be there long enough to take something like this on. 

The Commie Broadcast Corp. has shown no interest in this either. Had this been Lee “Geraldo” Selleck going after the underpants budget of an elected official, you’d have bet the Comrades would have ponied up the dough.

Geraldo didn’t think this one was worth going after, however. Nor did their “business” reporter Green Julie.

Since Julie helped add to the burden of the JRP with her own intervention through the Yellowknife YWCA, I suppose she felt it would be a conflict of interest. Not sure just how the Yellowknife YWCA felt they would be harmed by a pipeline carrying natural gas hundreds of miles away, but that’s the way this regulatory abomination unfolded.

Kevin O’Reilly and his merry band of fear-mongering eco-thugs lined up every NGO, rabble-rouser, tea granny and out-of-work proposal writer in the NWT and showed them how to get a budget to intervene in this pipeline project. All they had to do was to show up and speak for 20 or 90 minutes and they would be given a plane ticket and a budget -- all courtesy the Canadian taxpayer.

They were very organized and saw the biggest flaw in the whole process.

In their attempt to re-create the Berger-like forum, the JRP allowed anyone with a voice to speak to the panel and question the project’s proponents.

And speak they did. Hundreds of hours of testimony was heard and hundreds of thousands of pages were submitted.

From our wood pellet smoking MP Dennis Bevington, who urged the slumbering panel of dimwits to take their time, to the World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club and Alternatives North who heaped redundant and massive amounts of paper into the system. So many questions were posed to the proponent Imperial Oil that they actually choked and had to postpone the process until they could catch up.

If this technical terrorism was enough to choke Canada’s largest oil company, it really should not come as a surprise that this collection of absolute amateurs cannot get the job done.

That doesn’t stop them from drawing paychecks, however. At $500 a day for each panel member, they have sucked over $18 million from the taxpayers’ pockets.

Five years have come and gone since this process began and there is no end in sight. They make no excuse for their gross incompetence and offer another date of December 2009. There is no guarantee that they won’t change that date either.

Meanwhile, the poverty-stricken people of the Mackenzie Valley postpone their legacy. Mothers feed pop from baby bottles because milk is too expensive. Suicide and substance abuse rates continue to climb far beyond the national average. Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic. Graduation rates are deplorable. Housing is a national disgrace.

But yes, panel members, do take your time, as the Groucho Marxist MP urged you. Take your time, take our money, postpone the legacy and sleep well.