Trumpisms for Energy East

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South of the border, we have seen a demaguogue make flamboyant, divisive and factually false statements. Do we need that in Montreal and the  »kinder, gentler society »?

Trumpisms for Energy East

Mr Ezra Levant is accusing Mayor Coderre of favouring the petroleum of the “charia” by saying “NO” to the “ethical” petroleum of Canada.i Mr Levant is angry with the “NO” delivered to Energy East from the 82 mayors of Montreal’s Urban Community (CMM) to TransCanada Pipelines last January. Furthermore, since “Outfront Media” refused to display his questionable ad, Mr  Levant now uses to flaunt his ideas a panel truck including a picture of the monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Salmane Ben Abdelaziz al Saoud.

He also insinuates that the mayor’s office is putting pressure on the media not to publish his pitch; in effect, he alludes to subtle censorship. Since Mr Levant’s ideas are contrary to the truth based on objectives facts, could it be that the ad agencies themselves are uneasy about their participation in the publication of manifest falsehoods?

Mr Levant should remember that Mayor Coderre and his 81 colleagues in the Montreal Urban Community aren’t the only ones to put the brakes on the expansion of Canadian tar sands. The First Nations, Mayor Robertson of Vancouver, and his fellow mayors also oppose Kinder Morgan’s Transmountain pipeline, claiming that the financial returns are not worth the risks of pollution. Why isn’t Mr Levant irate with these elected officials? In the name of fairness, shouldn’t he campaign equally against the officials of Greater Vancouver?

Mr Levant’s enthusiastic promotion of Energy East notwithstanding, the mayors of the Greater Montreal area are ethically required to protect the water supply from a possible oil spill upstream from its water intakes. In July, the city of Prince Albert in Saskatchewan felt the effects of a drinking water advisory caused by a leaky pipeline.ii In Montreal, it’s not just 35,000 citizens that would be affected, but nearly four million; and there is no alternate supply of water as in Prince Albert.iii Since TransCanada Pipelines boycotted the legitimate questions at the hearings of the CMM, the elected officials have a moral duty to look after the vital needs of their citizens.iv

But there is an important major flaw in Mr Levant’s argument. He associates our “charia” petroleum with the photo of the King of Saudi Arabia. But according to Statistics Canada,v la Belle Province doesn’t import a single drop of Saudi oil! The most important source of crude for Quebec’s refineries is the USA; they supply 55% of the oil necessary for our two refineries. In order to be anywhere close to the truth, shouldn’t the picture on his panel truck be that of the American President?

Since Mr Levant objects to dealing with Saudi Arabia on moral grounds, it is interesting to know that he did not mount a similar vigorous opposition to Canada’s sale of 900 armoured vehicles to that country.vi The possible use of these weapons to oppress the citizens of Saudi Arabia and Yemen do not seem to be his ethical nightmare; in the light of the fact that he doesn’t strenuously oppose the sale of these weapons, his anti-Coderre propaganda can appear dangerously close to Quebec Bashing.

True, our country’s freedom of expression gives Mr Levant the right to express his ideas, even if these are only remotely connected to reality. Despite the fact that Quebec doesn’t buy one drop of Saudi oil, he uses the photo of the king of Saudi Arabia as a symbol of “tainted” oil. Fortunately, the same freedom of expression gives us not only the right, but also the duty to set the record straight.

If Mr Levant has arguments based on facts to back the construction of Energy East, let’s have them; I have rock-solid arguments against this pipeline. A genuine dialogue can only be built on respect for facts; burying one’s head in the sand by denying scientific evidence can only lead to catastrophevii. On the other hand, if I were to suggest what he should do with his less than factual ideas, genuine censorship would prevent publication.

We have witnessed Mr Trump’s brand of discourse in the United States recently; do we need Mr Levant’s trumpisms here?

Gérard Montpetit

La Présentation, Qc

August 8, 2016