Sometimes, it’s not the event itself but the details that are troubling.
The “Clean LNG” seminars held Dec. 16 and 17 by the B.C. government and promoted by Woodfibre LNG, which proposes to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on Howe Sound near Squamish, were held to educate the public about the benefits of creating the industry.
School bus loads full of students were swept in to view the Science World energy demonstrations and hear about the job opportunities that may arise, should the plant be built here. It also provided a perfect opportunity to highlight the lucrative trades in general, which, oddly, are not popular among high school students.
The Clean LNG event also informed entrepreneurs about possible business opportunities surrounding the LNG industry and told the general public about the safety and benefits of LNG.
It all sounds friendly and fine, until you get into the details.
Upon arrival, you couldn’t help but notice the small group of protesters who were on Government Road, kept well away from the entrance, and the security guards in the background keeping an eye on them. At one point, RCMP even arrived to question protesters.
Why would police be called to a peaceful protest in our democratic society?
And why would big security guards be stationed right at the entrance of the event, creating an intimidating environment as one walked in? The high security, noted by many who attended, created an atmosphere of paranoia.
On the second day of the event, Deputy Premier and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman arrived to answer questions, but oddly, media were not notified that he would be coming. The Squamish Chief learned about his arrival, which was at a pre-scheduled time, only by a chance encounter with a District of Squamish councillor who had been informed. In a democratic society, it’s normal to also advise the media and the public that an elected government official of such prominence is coming to town to answer questions about LNG.
What does the government have to hide? The best policy would be to answer questions from all. Contrary to Coleman’s stated belief, Squamish people are in fact concerned about LNG. And the best way to address these concerns is head-on and without intimidation.