Once upon a time there was an idyllic little town that lived by the letter of the law. Traffic concerns surfaced as the population moved from the occasional annoying slow down to full-blown gridlock at one particular corner.
After much careful consideration, the elected council made the decision to install a traffic light, which drew harsh objections from five of the village’s founding families.
There was so much debate, at times measured but occasionally acrimonious, that the council decided to hold a referendum to resolve the issue. Eight of every 10 citizens marked their ballot in favour of the traffic light, and the work was scheduled to proceed in the spring, despite the concerns of a vocal minority.
The rancour raged long after the vote and throughout the winter, the naysayers now buoyed by the voices of people from neighbouring towns.
When the workers arrived to install the light, their efforts were short-circuited by an angry horde who blocked the road to stop the work. An emergency council meeting and another referendum reinforced that the majority remained clearly in favour. They eventually decided enough was enough and removed those who stalled the installation of the light.
The moral of this oversimplified fable is that this is how the system is supposed to work. The wishes of many outweigh the desires of a few, which brings us full circle to recent demonstrations against the pipeline in a roundabout way.
While five of 13 hereditary chiefs are entitled to their opinion and deserve the right to scream it from the rooftops, their decision to align with those who ignore our laws and wreak chaos on the rest of us is a bridge too far.
Disrupting ferry sailings alone goes beyond what the protesters label as a minor inconvenience, especially for people who had to miss an appointment with a specialist on the Mainland that they had waited six months to secure. Think about the family that missed the funeral for a loved one.
Then there’s the economic losses that are piling up across the country with each passing day. While some may argue their position is burgeoned with each protest, consider how their numbers are dwarfed by those who support the pipeline. What if the majority of those who want the work to proceed, including 20 First Nations who have already signed on the dotted line, could take a few hours off with pay to demonstrate their solidarity with the majority.
The governments we elected to make these decisions have followed due course and given their blessings. Poll after poll of John and Jane Q. Citizen underlines that a solid majority is in favour, including the 20 councils who speak for Indigenous people directly affected by the project.
The clock has ticked well past the eleventh hour. Those who disrupt the process because they believe the loudest voices should decide what’s best for the rest must accept the views of the majority. It’s time to put down your placards, turn off the bullhorns and move along peacefully to your next battle. With all due respect, this fight’s over. More of what you’ve served up so far will only harm, hinder and outrage the rest of us.
Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.