The extent to which newspaper editorials reflect community opinion is debatable, as is the extent to which Canada’s current federal government is a reflection of Alberta public opinion, but both of these factors help to attract GallonDaily’s attention to an editorial in a small town Alberta newspaper.
Bonnyville is a town of about 6,500 roughly 250km northeast of Edmonton, not quite in the heart of oil country but on the way to the oil sands if one is driving from the west. The local area includes several large petroleum processing plants. In the 2011 federal election the Conservative party candidate, Brian Storseth, received 77.8% of the vote, up from 72.7% in 2008.
The Bonnyville Nouvelle is a community newspaper serving communities throughout this region with a combined population of about 30,000. In its latest edition the Nouvelle contains, under the headline The right to a healthy environment, an editorial which can only be described as hostile to the federal government’s attitude towards environmentalists. In the article the newspaper makes the following comments, among others:
- We are seeing environmental movements painted as radical and a threat to national security
- Politicians have demonized environmental groups and those affiliated with them, using name-calling and intimidation in order to discredit groups and discourage others from further activism.
- Could it be argued that industry and government are hijacking our regulatory and democratic systems?’
- Shouldn’t the passion for the environment Canadians are showing be applauded?
- The government and industry appear antagonistic towards finding better and more sustainable solutions to our energy needs.
- How is it our government and its security services have managed to make it wrong to stand up for the environment and bully and intimidate those that do, yet regulations, enforcement and even an understanding of the ongoing destruction of the environment goes un-punished, or worse yet, unnoticed?
It is possible that the newspaper was simply trying to be provocative but GallonDaily’s reading of the entire piece suggest that is not the case. It reads as a heartfelt piece.
If this editorial is indicative of at least some part of majority public opinion in Alberta it is quite likely that the Federal Government will scramble over the next two years, before the next election, to shore up its environmental reputation. Policy scrambles are rarely good for business: they lead to ill-conceived and economically inefficient policies and most likely include unnecessary spending (politicians still think that problems are most quickly solved by throwing money at them) and poor quality environmental results.
The complete editorial can be found at http://www.bonnyvillenouvelle.ca/article/20131203/BNV0902/312039983/-1/bnv/the-right-to-a-healthy-environment
GallonDaily will be watching for the response.