Ville de Gaspé – Petrolia spat descends into foolishness, but hope emerges

The ongoing saga between the city of Gaspé and Petrolia has recently hit a new high on the ‘What-in-hell-is-wrong-with-these-people?’ scale.

The latest slam into the proverbial guardrail is being reported here in this Montreal Gazette article dated January 25th under the less than encouraging title ‘Gaspé council bans oil drilling, Petrolia halts work’ by correspondent Robert Gibbens where he hits goes straight to the heart of the matter.

Oil is manna for one of Quebec’s poorest regions and the leading exploration company, Petrolia Inc., can see future production of at least 20,000 barrels daily or enough to fill 5 per cent of the province’s needs.

Unfortunately, the Ville de Gaspe and Petrolia Inc. can’t seem to come to terms with each other on the project.

There is no doubt about it, Petrolia must be accountable and transparent in their dealings with the public and environment. This is the 21st century, that means we expect and will and do have the very newest technology, techniques and oversight available. This is not only mandatory, it’s unavoidable by nature. As the Gazette article mentions, the province of Quebec is in fact a 11% shareholder in this venture.

For his part, one would have to wonder if the attention that is being brought to bear on Gaspé Mayor François Roussy and the rest of the population, by activists and foreign-funded or otherwise, aren’t taking a toll on our good mayor. It could be forcing, or making it easier for him to posture and play both sides in a dispute as the battle between activists and the quiet majority of people who just want to make a living and a life here.

Mayor Roussy would do well to remember those people too. As a group they are generally too preoccupied with trying to survive under an ever-increasing tax burden and the number of them failing to make ends meet on what they get to keep of their paycheques keeps growing. Most of the activism and energy being focussed on the debate isn’t even coming from the Gaspésie, let alone from these hard working citizens.

Unless you didn’t get the memo, you probably know that the David Suzuki Foundation has recently refocussed a lot of energy and resource into Quebec to fight oil and gas projects and infrastructure projects. The foundation was already infamous for a fiasco involving being paid handsomely by foundations set up by nouveau-riche billionaires and environmental lobby groups (the NRA?! No, not the NRA. Their green counterparts, though. So the same level of interference) with the purpose of funneling money into Canada to slow down or halt major economic development projects.

In the case of the anti-aquaculture campaign the David Suzuki Foundation, backed by enormous sums of U.S-sourced dollars, hammered a Canadian industry on behalf of an allied U.S. fishing industry that was wanting to drive up the price of Alaskan Wild salmon by attacking competitors. You can read about that here at Canadian blogger Vivian Krause’s site where she outlines what she’s uncovered regarding Canada’s environmental industry and its foreign funding and it goes well beyond aquaculture.

The irony didn’t end with the David Suzuki Foundation taking money from foreign lobbyists. No, the ‘science’ that Suzuki was given to push on us just wasn’t right. As this great point Krause brings our attention to in this article from the National Post, on March 15 2011 and titled “David Suzuki’s fish story”. Bold added for emphasis.

In the London Times, Magnus Linklater called the Hites study “a sorry saga of flawed science, selective research and hidden commercial bias.” Sandy Szwarc wrote in a newsletter of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “An ulterior motive may be at work.… Facing competition from aquaculture, the wild salmon industries of California, British Columbia, and Alaska have allied themselves with environmental groups to promote wild salmon as the healthier and environmentally friendly choice.”

It’s not just the David Suzuki Foundation, either. Thanks to groups like Tides Canada and these foreign foundations, this easily describes a massaive portion of the environmental lobby/activism “scene.”

With these sorts of players in the game (please check out the links) a fair debate won’t be easy, if possible at all. It’s easy to see that in the world of mass protests, online and off, bought and paid for activism and non-stop Public Relations that someone like mayor Roussy would be under a lot of pressure.

Locally, QMI’s Marie-Claude Costisella at Le Pharillon, brings to light the hope that the title of the article mentions, here. Her article is called ‘Pétrole à Gaspé: nouveau regroupement en faveur’ and ran on January 24. Ms. Costisella’s article link is translated by Google and it actually makes for a VERY readable story. It’s informative to go over her archive, she’s has done a very extensive job covering things on the ground here.

The presence of a new grassroots lobby group, the “Regroupement pour l’avenir économique de la Gaspésie”, is a very good thing. We need more ways for that silent majority to get the word out and reassure the City and the Mayor that our future ability to survive and be productive here is paramount. The times for dodgy claims and dubious tactics for either side, are long past.

Gaspé wants this project. Gaspé needs this project. But, we want it done right. It’s time for Mayor Francois Roussy to stop posing and posturing for the camera and do the job. Our futures depend on BOTH.

NOTE: We’ll be doing more on this topic in the coming weeks and we’re looking forward to challenging, and throwing our agreement behind, some of the assertions Ms. Costisella made in a recent and excellent piece on the emotional fireworks at play in the fossle fuels development debate. It’s titled ‘Le pétrole est une matière émotive’ and you can check it out here with the help of Google Translate built into the link. It’s a good commentary.

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