Monday, October 21, 2013

Oct. 21: Alec Bruce's column is brilliant...

This must be the first column I have seen in the Irving press that has a sense of the whole story - in this case, of the violence at Rexton. This is really quite exceptional, and captures points the reporters, for the most part, have missed. And, certainly, the editors have missed these points entirely.

There's also another good column by Steve Malloy who,  as always, can take what seems a small and local matter, and bring us to realize the greater implications of it. Well done.

Now, let me make myself unpopular.


Legal is not the same as right. Illegal is not the same as wrong.

It was perfectly legal in Guatemala for the CIA and the Guatemala government to murder a quarter million native peoples in order force the survivors to accept lives as unspeakably cheap labour in the mines. It was legal for the mining companies to poison the land and waters as much as they liked. It was legal to murder Mayans who tried to stop them.

In Canada, it was quite legal to confiscate native lands. It was legal to kill native peoples who objected. It was legal for the Canadian government to deliberately starve plains native peoples to death. It was legal to forcibly take native children from their homes, and to place them in brutal, residential schools. And, certainly, it seems always to have been legal for Canadian governments to ignore their treaty obligations to native peoples.

It was all legal. But none of it was right.

To get closer to home, it was legal for shale gas companies to make sweetheart deals with the New Brunswick governments to carry out exploration anywhere they liked, and without informing anybody of what it was all about.

It was legal for New Brunswick governments not to bother to tell us what was going on or to seek out opinion. It was legal for the Irving press to keep mum about it for years and then, when the story got out, anyway, it was quite legal for Irving press to become a propaganda organ and, frequently, a liar for the shale gas industry.

Apparently, it must also have been legal for a professor to lie about his credentials for years and, based on those lies, to accept government positions that involved the safety and even the lives of New Brunswickers. Certainly, he has suffered no legal consequences for what is surely a criminal offence.

Well, it must have been legal because I've never seen men with visors aiming pepper spray at Mr. Irving, Mr. Alward, the shale gas executives, or any of those people who have betrayed all of us.

In an aside, there also seems to be a grey area in the law. I should have thought it would be illegal to ship a highly volatile oil in tank cars not designed for it, to file a false report of what kind of oil was being shipped, and then to run it into a town, killing 47 people.

But, apparently, not so.

Right and wrong concern moral values, the way our behaviour affects others.

Legal and illegal sometimes concern moral values, too - as in laws against theft, recklessness, assault....  But legal and illegal often, and far too often, concern only the interests of those who have the power to make and unmake the laws.

Nobody was killed at Rexton. But, oh, we have lots and lots of news about it and lots of legal action. Forty-seven were killed at Lac Megantic. The story was good for two days in the Irving press - with no mention whatever of the legal and moral aspects of it.

None of this has been been hinted in the Irving press.

As well, something else has not been looked at.

The New Brunswick government issued licenses to shale gas companies years ago with virtually no public discussion. Right up to Alward, no government has made no attempt at an honest explanation of the issues. Nor have the shale gas companies.

In particular, no attempt was made to talk to native peoples BEFORE they became alarmed. Fracking trucks just appeared on the roads.

Even in a province in which the arrogance of big business is legendary, this was an arrogance over the top. Mr. Irving and others wanted to explore for shale gas. They completely ignored all the people of New Brunswick. Their trained politicians did the same. Mr. Alward is now having talks with native leaders? Sure. After years of doing nothing, and a  month of confrontation with native peoples, he decides to talk. You wretched little man, Mr. Alward. The talks should have begun years ago, BEFORE there was a confrontation.

There should also have been honest information from the newspapers owned by your boss.

Who created this crisis? You did, Mr. Alward, you and Shawn Graham and those before who arrogantly allowed this proposal to go forward without giving a damn what people thought.

You made it worse, Mr. Alward, by rudely, ignorantly and ruthlessly pushing aside the only professional advice you had - the report from Dr. Cleary.  Your boss killed the report in his newspapers. And then you and, probably, your boss, hired a fraud who had been useful to you in the past to counter Dr. Cleary's report.

The action in this story is not the violence though, so far, violence is all the news media have been talking about. That violence has so far been minor. No. The real story is the arrogance, the greed, and the stupidity of those who think they can subvert the normal processes of government, pass laws that benefit only themselves, run the province without even getting elected, use newspapers to lie, and to assume it is all part of God's great plan for them to rule our society.

The stupidity is that they don't have the faintest idea of how to run a society. They aren't running it now. They're destroying it. That's what happens when we get the silly idea that what is legal is necessarily what is right.



  1. I thought elected legislatures were the mechanism with which society could transform the legal and moral wrongs into something right and moral. It seems that modern legislatures are not concerned about fair governance of the people, but only in maintaining power and control in the service of corporate masters.

    The last three or four decades have seen a transformation of a hard won 'democracy' into a new global form of Dickensianism.

    The alternatives for citizens to regain a fair democracy appear to be few. I doubt that it will happen at the polling booth. Perhaps rebellion is the only realistic alternative.

  2. The distinction must be made between 'legal' and 'justice'. History is full of 'illegal' actions by people fighting unjust systems. That is how social change happens. Unless we stand up against injustice, exploitation and abuse will continue under the guise of legality.

  3. The only democracy we have in this province, and in Canada as a country, is on election day: The only choice we have is who we want to put in power. Once they have the power, we the people have no say in ANYTHING until election day again. Pretty sad, but it's true!

  4. I read your blogs regularly. Your humoristic way is amusing, continue the good work!