The Enbridge Pipeline Divide is More Than Politics, it's Individual Self-Interest vs. The Web of Life

Protestors in Vancouver yesterday supporting the 'Web of Life'

In the last couple days since the Harper regime, as expected by all observers, gave Enbridge's Northern Gateway Project the thumbs up i've been watching and reading the responses by as many people as possible from both sides of this great divide. My conclusion is that this divide is deeply philosophical in nature. We all see and except those things that fit into our worldview and efficiently filter out everything that doesn't. i realize, at least intellectually, that this must be the truth in my case as well as everyone else's on both sides of the pipeline divide.That said, the divide between supporters of the Northern Gateway Project [NGP] and the opponents seems to broadly be defined by two very basic and almost totally opposite worldviews.

Time after time i've heard/read supporters give the same sort of answer when asked why they support the project. Basically it boils down to: We all have the lifestyles and comforts we enjoy because of the sale of natural resources. There are a few deviations, some supporters will say "God given natural resources" or "we all need jobs and growth". After listening/reading at least a hundred supporters' answers, from my perspective, every one of them is saying that their, and their family's, economic well being is the paradigm through which they view the question. This paradigm is totally understandable both because in an evolutionary and survival sense without that focus our ancestors would have been saber-tooth tiger chow and the fact that even in today's saber-tooth tiger challenged times, up to a point [needs not wants], our individual and family survival depends on having enough food, fuel, shelter to live.

From the opponents group, of which i am a proud member, the answer to the same query boils down to: Our existence, individual, familial and as a species is totally dependent on the web of life that underlies and supports us. That without the immeasurable and unaccounted for services that the web of life provides for us and every other part of the planet, economics is meaningless. Opponents' answers might deviate a bit too, some will say that if consumer driven extractive capitalism paid the full costs of its dastardly actions instead of being allowed to externalize them onto every species present and future there would be no debate about consumer comfort, any and all activity beyond that needed for survival would be recognized as the suicide it is.

So, IMO, when First Nations and other NGP pipeline opponents say "This Means War" they are talking about a far deeper 'war' than a political one. Yesterday Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, who is president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, told reporters and a huge crowd in downtown Vancouver that people are prepared to go to jail over this fight, "because that’s what it’s going to take. It’s official. The war is on,” Mr. Phillip told the crowd, rallying them to a path of protest ahead against the $7.9-billion pipeline between the Alberta oil sands and the B.C. coast. “There will be the need to go out onto the land and onto the waters and physically stop any effort on the part of Enbridge to do preparatory work, site preparation, surveying while this matter is in the courts,” said Mr. Phillip.“Some of us here are going to jail because that’s what it’s going to take.”

"We will defend our territories whatever the costs may be", said the alliance of 31 First Nations in their press release. And Mr. Mud is with them in body and spirit. i'll do everything i possibly can in word and deed to support the web life that this idiotic, short-sighted, self-centered scheme represents. But along with that i'll understand that Harper and all those others who support this scheme do so because that's how they honestly see the world. Harper represents a worldview opponents consider suicidal because we are all in this together.

When Harper stands up in Parliament and says his government's approval of the NGP is in accordance with the 'independent and scientific' review panel's recommendations he sees no contradiction because he and his fellow believers chose the panel members by choosing the bureaucrats that were tasked with choosing the individuals on the panel. Harper sees no contradiction to calling the panel's conclusions scientific just because he received a letter signed by over 300 hundred of scientists from around the world urging Harper and his government to reject a federal panel report from universities across Canada - Newfoundland to Vancouver Island -  along with colleagues from international institutions including Stanford, Cornell and Oxford.

Harper 'believes' that the world and its resources were put here by his "God" for the use of the chosen few. Harper 'believes' that we can do no lasting or meaningful harm to the biosphere because his "God" says so. i 'believe' Harper and those who agree with him are deluded and very dangerous to all of us humans and every living thing we share fair Gaia with.