The results of the Priddle Panel on the offshore oil and gas moratorium still hanging in the air and it’s truly unfortunate that the report has done little to clarify the situation.
The pro-moratorium side is claiming victory and are displaying no small amount of satisfaction in the findings that nearly three quarters of the people of this province want to keep the moratorium in place.
But a survey that followed closely on the heals of the Priddle Panel shows just the opposite – many British Columbians are in favour of lifting the moratorium.
Many detractors of the federal process have emerged. And the most scathing indictment of the lengthy process is that it could have, and probably should have, been replaced by a comprehensive poll. At least with a poll you get one person, one opinion, one vote. In Mr. Priddle’s examination of the issue a ten-word e-mail representing one person’s view was given equal weight as multi-page reports representing the work of many individuals. Of course Priddle was sticking to guidelines laid out by his federal employers.
One of the most outspoken critics of the Priddle Report has been Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond. Pulling no punches, Pond contends that, “They blew it,” and, “the Priddle panel copped out.”
It’s Mr. Pond’s belief that once again, and all too often, folks in urban areas are able to impose their will on rural and northern communities, “swamping public processes” and swaying outcomes based on sheer numbers. Further Mr. Pond contends that one tenth of one per cent of British Columbians participated in the Priddle process.
We took the news of the federal government’s commisioning a report on the moratorium as a hopeful sign of progress, but regrettably what could have done much to chart the course for the future was apparently doomed from the start.