Premier Bob McLeod taking the federal government to task for imposing a five-year ban on new offshore exploration licenses in the Arctic has been the hot subject this week.
It’s a story few in the south will hear and those who do might be surprised.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in his joint statement with former U.S. President Barack Obama, said he was proud to make the Arctic “free from the future risks of offshore oil and gas activity.”
Thank God the wise overlords of the south know what’s good for us better than we do. Imagine if they left Northerners to their own devices, what foolery they would get up to.
Inuvik Mayor Jim McDonald put it succinctly: “It just seems that everyone else wants to be our protector.”
Of course, the southerners who applaud these sort of decisions think they’re the good guys. They think the government is saving Northerners from the evils of industry. They haven’t talked to many Northerners about it, but obviously they know best.
What might surprise them is the extensive support for oil and gas and mining activity in the North. Those industries have made many Northerners rich, skilled and educated, giving them the opportunity to pursue ambitious and fulfilling lives.
The powers given to the territory through devolution and further through land claim agreements mean there is no risk of the people here being trampled by unregulated capitalism, as these southerners no doubt fear.
This kind of do-gooder approach is prevalent across Canadian society and one of its most insidious, oppressive and degrading aspects.
It’s particularly bad in the welfare industry, which resembles on a different scale the kind of relationship Canada and the North has.
For people to say they know better than others about how to lead their life is the height of arrogance.
It doesn’t matter how much they think they’re doing the right thing. Their assumption that they know what’s right for you better than you yourself is the violation. It is implicitly saying that you are not intelligent enough to make your own decisions.
Beyond that, it is often the pretense of knowledge, because a party not assuming the true risks and rewards from a decision is not working with complete information. Though the do-gooder might know all the numbers and have essays backing up his points, his direction is inherently flawed because he is not the one taking the risk.
When it comes to the government, these do-gooders aren’t just annoying people to be around but can impose their wisdom through force.
Ottawa can and will make Northerners do what Ottawa thinks is the right thing.
Northerners should have the ability to determine their own future and not be political props for southerners to wave around.
Even worse is that not only are they used as props, but they also get to receive all the punishment from the puppet master’s manoeuvring.
It’s like releasing the butterfly: if we respect someone, we let that person make her own decisions.
Ottawa and the North can work in a proper federal-territorial relationship without one party overriding the other with no input.
For that to work the relationship has to be based on respect, which is shown through actions, not words.