The woeful state of the commentariat in this province can be summed up in new words: Murry Mandryk. At once the chief political reporter and columnist in our newspapers of record, this guy is utterly bereft of a worthwhile opinion on virtually any subject. Once in a while, he gets a barb in there, as John Gormley has pointed out in his book, but generally, his efforts are the journalistic equivalent of eating a rice cake. Sure, there might be something useful in there, but why bother indulging?
Mandryk’s latest contribution to the “on one hand, on the other hand” genre takes on the controversial pipeline debates. He doesn’t provide an opinion on the actual merits of either the Keystone XL or Northern Gateway. No, he just feels people should “chill out” and have a “thoughtful dialogue” on oil policy or something. Mandryk is completely oblivious to the idea that debates are often driven by the loudmouths, the screamers, those who actually have an opinion. To wit, if it weren’t for the likes of Ezra Levant, Peter Kent, Joe Oliver and Stephen Harper, the current scrutiny on the regulatory process wouldn’t be occurring today.
Mandryk finds this unseemly and simplistic. He’d rather have us talking about why we aren’t processing our oil in Canada. Well, at risk of simplifying a “complex” idea, in the unlikely event that a new refinery could ever be built in this country due to the regulatory environment, existing facilities already have the established supporting infrastructure. We wouldn’t need just a new refinery; we’d need brand new pipelines to ship the refined products to market. So there’s that.
No wonder fence-sitters like Mandryk are spewed out of Dante’s Inferno like cold coffee. They’re so lame, even the Devil doesn’t want them.
Anyway, here’s my letter to the editor on the subject.
Once again, Murray Mandryk misses a golden opportunity to contribute to ongoing public debates by criticizing the tenor of the arguments rather than the substance.
Mandryk feels that Canadian critics of President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL project application are being hypocritical when they also denounce foreign influence in the regulatory process on the Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat.
This is a false equivalence. Canadians and their government officials can and should support projects that could positively impact the economy, no matter where they are situated, provided they meet regulatory standards. Moreover, when foreign nationals try to subvert our regulatory process through a ballot-stuffing scheme that would make a Chicago politician blush, our government is right to call them out on it. This is a perfectly consistent viewpoint, one that promotes Canadian opportunities while asserting our sovereignty.
In addition, Mandryk does grudgingly admit that the “ethical oil” stance does have its merits, if only it wasn’t being championed by such obnoxious brutes as Ezra Levant. But at least Levant had the wherewithal to actually develop an original argument that is clear, cogent and relevant, which is more than one can say about any of Mandryk’s laughingly described “opinion” columns.
Finally, Mandryk thinks we should have a “thoughtful dialogue on how to better address oil policy issues.” Wake up, Murray. We’re having that dialogue now. Just for once, try to take a position in the debate at hand instead of whining about how others should “chill out.”
UPDATE: The StarPhoenix published my letter and, for once, they actually did a reasonable editing job, capturing all the snark while making it less stupid-sounding.