This past week Prince George-Peace River was featured in evening newscasts and major daily newspapers across the country as the Olympic Torch Relay wound its way through our local communities.
Official “Torch Celebrations” in Prince George, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson drew large, enthusiastic and patriotic crowds. And in other communities, like Tumbler Ridge, Chetwynd, Hudson’s Hope and Taylor, local residents organized their own events to celebrate the torch relay.
Yes, it was bitterly cold at times but I found it truly heart-warming to witness the animated and lively faces of those who came out to these events. As the torch relay has travelled across the nation, it hasn’t mattered whether it passed through a small community or large city, the reaction and enthusiasm has been the same.
The relay has shown our diversity, but more importantly, it’s shown our unity because Canadians from coast to coast are united in their determination to make these Olympics … CANADA’S Olympics … the best games ever! And it wasn’t just at torch relay events that I have been able to remark upon this commitment to the Olympics – and to our local communities.
Earlier this week I was in Fort Nelson for meetings and briefings on shale gas exploration and carbon capture and storage. Spectra Energy, one of the companies exploring new opportunities and technology for processing the gas from the Horn River Basin, is helping the dreams of four elite Canadian amateur athletes come true, including Fort St. John speed skater Denny Morrison, and I applauded them for this at a local luncheon.
At another event, nearly 100 local people came out to enthusiastically celebrate the Grand Opening of Apache Canada’s Fort Nelson office. Oil and gas companies operating in the region are heavily involved in community events related to the Olympics and other local efforts and priorities. Their employees are actively engaged IN our local communities. My point is that it’s the people that make the company. These are not the faceless, evil oil and gas empires that Jack Layton and the “hard left” in Canadian politics love to attack. These are real people making a living, raising their families and trying to make THEIR communities a better place.
Whether it’s participating in community activities and events or working on a carbon capture and storage project, they are responsible local residents, AS WELL AS good corporate citizens. No one is forcing Spectra to sponsor athletes or invest millions of dollars in new technology to reduce emissions at gas processing plants but they’re doing it anyway and taking a big risk to do it. Yet you’ll never hear it portrayed that way by some radical environmentalists or Mr. Layton.
The same applies to other natural resource sectors, such as mining. Politicians of all stripe – local, provincial or federal – have a responsibility to push back on this misinformation about our natural resource industries.
You can NOT disconnect the company from the people that make the company, and they deserve respect, fairness and honesty in the portrayal of the companies they work for!