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New MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones (Photo courtesy of Vancouver Observer)

New MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones (Photo courtesy of Vancouver Observer)

“Regardless of the committees you’re on, the roles you have, regardless of party demands, and the partisanship that will continue to exist in this House your one job, that you cannot ever forget, is to be a strong voice in service of the people who sent you here from your constituencies.”

Justin Trudeau to his Caucus 11/5/15

This is a courageous and encouraging mandate given by a freshman PM as he launches his reign. I hate to pick on my former MP, Conservative John Weston, but he never did understand the problem behind Mr. Trudeau’s statement. He was bewildered that he lost the election and it never occurred to him that he had an obligation to pay some heed to the wishes of his constituents even, hell especially, when he disagreed with them. He seemed to think that as long as he obtained the funding due to the various component parts of his Riding, and perhaps a little more for good measure, if not loved, at least he would be reelected.

The overriding issue for the past four years in his Riding has been the proposed LNG plant in Squamish. This proposal gave deep concern to a whole lot of his former constituents for a whole lot of reasons.

There are, of course, the usual environmental concerns about building a pipeline, getting rid of waste water, noxious gases from the plant, fish and wildlife and that sort of thing which in many opinions, including mine, ought themselves to have been fatal to the application. If Mr. Weston cared about these matters, he kept them to himself.

There was the matter of the clearly fraudulent environmental assessment “process” which clearly gave him no concerns.

Then there was perhaps the most critical question of all about the width of Howe Sound, which by international standards is way too narrow for LNG tankers.

For reasons they will have to explain, the Harper government paid no attention to this issue and acted throughout as if it didn’t exist. It does exist in very clear terms and the people in the Howe Sound area are very well versed in the problem. The standard recommended by the estimable Sandia Laboratories in New Mexico, adopted by the US government which is scarcely known for environmental strictness, makes it abundantly clear that LNG traffic in Howe Sound would be highly dangerous and out of the question.

Another issue which neither senior government will utter a whisper about let alone address, is the ownership of Woodfibre LNG, by an out-and-out crook and flagrant destroyer of forests in Indonesia.

Mr. Weston, in accordance with party policy, was uncritically wed to the Woodfibre LNG project without ever seeing the evidence from opponents. And this, I think, is where Mr. Trudeau’s remarks are so important.

Most of us would have preferred that Mr. Weston oppose WLNG but understood that for a backbencher to fight a government policy head-on was political suicide. Had he had the courage to oppose Harper, I believe he would have been re-elected as an independent but, I must confess, that’s asking a lot of most, though not all, government backbenchers.

I believe most would have been satisfied had Mr. Weston, first of all, answered our questions about the project, in an open meeting, secondly, supported the decisions of municipal council’s within his constituency out of a matter of courtesy if nothing else, instead of bullying them, and lastly, raised these concerns and objections in the House of Commons if only to have them form part of the Official Record. No doubt he would have felt compelled to make it clear that he would follow the party line and vote accordingly.

In other words, had Weston been able to support his constituents as Mr. Trudeau has made mandatory for his MP’s, Mr. Weston might still be our Member of. Parliament.

This is, of course, speculation and it obviously was not in Mr. Weston’s nature to oppose Harper on anything he proposed, anytime, anywhere. He had a casual at best attitude towards the environment in a Riding where that has become of acute interest.

Judging by his sniveling after he lost, it never occurred to poor Weston that the majority of his constituents wanted to have their opinions recorded, not contemptuously rejected.

The worrisome part of Mr. Trudeau’s announcement is simply the cynical thought that this may be a wonderful thing to say as he launches his premiership but will it last when pressure comes from the business community and their captive backbenchers to knuckle under?

What does he do when Ontario backbenchers, urged on by the oil industry and their partners, the Postmedia press, put huge pressure on Mr. Trudeau to support an LNG plant in Squamish? Remember that the Press are Tory lovers and their largest company, Postmedia, has made a formal deal to uncritically support the Oil Industry.*

In short, the question raised by Mr. Trudeau’s brave words is simply “can you live up to the spirit of those words, Mr. Trudeau, when the barnyard droppings become national headlines and lead editorials, not to mention front page stories praising the fossil fuel industry printed by their partners”?

* Upon request I will be happy to provide written evidence

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