Governments have often made decisions based on impulse rather than reason. A classic example is the fallacy of “the last straw” – the straw that broke the camel’s back. Similar impulsive decisions are now being made in the assessment of a pipeline’s effects. Let’s think about that.
If a camel’s back can hold, let’s say, 1000 straws, and if one more straw will break its back, it is illogical to believe that it was only the last straw that broke its back. Each of the 1001 straws has weight. All of them together create load on the camel’s back. The first straw is no better than the last straw. They are all load. If you don’t believe me, just ask the camel!
THE LAST STRAW DIDN’T BREAK THE CAMEL’S BACK
If you remove one or more of the 1000 loaded straws, then adding that proverbial “last straw” will be harmless. The false assumption is that all of the old load is okay, but new load is not. This leads us to the wrong decision: to ban new load while preserving old load. The right question is not “Which load is good load?” but rather, “How should Canada decide who is allowed to add straws onto the camel’s back (up to the maximum load)?” The task is to allocate space rationally on the limited capacity of the camel’s back.
Canada is facing two pipeline-related issues similar to the camel’s back. The first of these is CO2 emissions, the second, underwater noise caused by increased tanker traffic.
Continue reading “The Last Straw and the Pipeline”
“No one should see how laws or sausages are made.” Otto von Bismarck
Note to my readers: This post is very long for a blog. I did not want to make it even longer, or to present additional posts on this subject. That is why I have posted here an abbreviated version of my ideas for C-69 amendment, providing only the recommendations that are easier to understand. Others, which may be more complex, have been omitted for the sake of brevity. However, if you find the table below too detailed, skip past it and just read the text. I’m happy to offer more detailed insight into my recommendations if you would like to contact me directly.
C-69 has had no shortage of critics, myself included. However, the government’s desire to modernize what had been criticized as antiquated and inadequate environmental assessment legislation is commendable. The government could have left things as they were, thereby avoiding criticism.
Several critics of C-69 have argued that the law is so seriously flawed that it should be repealed and the government should start again from scratch. I disagree. It has taken a long time, and thousands of person hours to create C-69. This law has been through Parliament and is currently before the Senate. The government should not throw all that work away now. Nor is it so bad as to be unfixable. It is not the function of the Senate – an unelected body – to repeal or refuse to pass laws legally enacted by the elected representatives in Parliament.
Unfortunately, what Parliament wanted the law to accomplish — greater transparency, greater inclusiveness, greater fairness and a shorter time for completion — is unlikely to be accomplished by this law because of the way it is written. I would strongly recommend that it be amended, as outlined below. Continue reading “How To Amend C-69: Assess the Project, Not the Planet”