Times in Trail

Times in Trail: Political rhetoric never produces anything positive

"Nowadays ... it’s somehow acceptable to just spout off at anything and anytime and damn the consequences"

There is a lot to be a said about thinking before speaking. It sounds so simple in theory – think about the words that you want to come out of your mouth.

Are they wise? Are they hurtful? Are they appropriate?

Nowadays whether you’re a politician running for president of the United States or someone just sitting in front of a computer screen, it’s somehow acceptable to just spout off at anything and anytime and damn the consequences.

The societal norm that was prevalent for decades has somehow been over-ridden by the loudest complainer or the one that lands the biggest insult.

It happens all too often in political discourse and once again this week it has reared its ugly head.

The latest salvos surround the Energy East pipeline. While western mayors and premiers are clamouring for a pipeline to be built to get oil to the East Coast refineries and shipping ports, Quebec mayors are stonewalling it over all types of concerns.

In my opinion I see a Canadian pipeline as a great opportunity to move a Canadian resource to a Canadian refinery. It’s not like sending it west to a port then shipped elsewhere to be refined. It’s all done in Canada and employing Canadians.

Of course when you have two different views, the federal government is hoping to play the role of referee and get everybody on the same page. But it doesn’t help when civil discourse is tossed aside in an attempt to grandstand.

Conservative MP Candice Bergen showed her class telling the Prime Minister to call the Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and “tell him to smarten up.”

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, always an over-the-top speaker, and Brian Jean, the head of the Wildrose Park in Alberta, were both quick with the insults and rhetoric that would make Donald Trump proud.

They threw in jabs on equalization payments and taxes and benefits to diminish their Eastern counterparts and remind them who buttered their bread all these years.

Nowhere is there a call to meet and talk. Nowhere is there an out-stretched hand signaling a chance for a mutual agreement.

No. In this day and age it’s fire back with a big and quick zinger.

Even a five-year-old throwing a tantrum eventually realizes it won’t get him that ice cream cone if he keeps it up.

So it was refreshing to hear the one voice that seemingly rises above all the noise time and time again. That voice belongs to Calgary’s mayor Naheed Nenshi.

He responded to Coderre’s stance on the pipelines and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plea to follow a process to appease everyone.

“It is Mayor Coderre’s job to get the best possible deal that he can get, and more importantly, to raise his concerns and questions, but I think what is really important here, and what I appreciated the prime minister saying, is that there is a process in place,” Nenshi told the Canadian Press.

“It is a rigorous science-based process. The National Energy Board knows what it is doing.”

He added that it was important to address the issue through a thoughtful open-dialgue process.

How refreshing.

In contrast his comment came the same week our very own B.C. Premier Christy Clark was telling the media she is battling the “forces of No” in her province.

With one stroke of the brush she painted some people as saying “no to everything and heaven knows there are plenty of those in British Columbia.”

She is probably still angry at the “No,” her party got from the public over the Harmonized Sales Tax even though her predecessor promised it wasn’t on the agenda.

Maybe she’s angry about the “No” protesters gave her party’s Jumbo Glacier Resort plan even though her government had the audacity to create, at taxpayer’ expense, a municipality and council for a town without any residents.

Perhaps it’s the “No,” she heard from voters who rejected her in the Vancouver-Point Grey riding last election. She handled that by giving the Westside-Kelowna MLA a plum position in Asia to step aside for her.

Sorry Christy, sometimes “No,” means “No.”

Clark, Wall and other provincial leaders who simply want to use the old George Bush line of, “You’re either with us or against us,” are hopefully finding out their rhetoric has reached its shelf life.

The days of us-versus-them have taken a toll on every aspect of our society.

Our newly-minted Prime Minister might not have all the answers to his promises. But his attitude of keeping dialogue open and respectful instead of confrontational is one true Canadian resource we can all benefit from.

Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times

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