Environmentalists who expect to block the construction of giant pipelines across the Canadian Arctic are dreaming. The crucial factors in oil development are politics, power and money; the companies know a great deal about politics and power, and they control almost unlimited amounts of money.By RALPH HEDLIN16 min
End of a day, end of a career In the prairie village, it is shortly after six on a hot August morning and Corporal Jack Willow, 38, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police drives his police car on dusty Fort Street. Willow grew up in a small Saskatchewan town similar to this one and he sees things with a native’s eye.By H. J. MacDonald16 min
It’s easy to come home again if you’ve never really left Sitting in our sunny home on the Spanish island of Ibiza, near Santa Eulalia del Rio, a visiting friend from Canada questions my commitment to a sense of national purpose. “This is all very beautiful and idyllic, but why aren’t you in your own country now when we need you?” Standing in a cold Toronto January wind at the corner of Yonge and Bloor, a long-time-no-see friend questions the extent of my natural Canadian ruggedness.By GRAHAM COUGHTRY12 min
JOHN DAVID HAMILTON A transportation system is the key to far northern development... It will be a reality in this decade. Part of that system, without question, will include a Mackenzie Valley corridor incorporating both oil and gas pipelines and an all-weather highway to the Arctic Ocean . . . The cost will be in the neighborhood of $10 billion.” — Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Toronto, April 8, 1972. There was Trudeau pledging that the people of the Mackenzie Valley will soon be “liberated” by a highway. There, in the background, were the petroleum men insisting that the Indians, Eskimos and mixed bloods will be civilized by two pipelines. There, also, were the promoters, construction men and tourism developers hoping to make the native peoples part of the sales package in new towns thrown up all along the Mackenzie from Hay River to Tuktoyaktuk. And what were the people of the Northwest Territories, especially the native majority, saying? More to the point, what could they say? Nothing. The NWT is still colonially dominated by Ottawa. They have no say. But the fact is that the Mackenzie Valley corridor will create an inexorable growth of ugliness in the Arctic and savage the extremely fragile beauty of huge areas of northern land. And it will destroy any chance for the native peoples of the region to live in peace in their own country. The pipeline will be a catastrophe for the natural environment and for the human environment, and it will happen. It is happening. I have been in the North, the real North, beyond the 60th parallel of latitude, five times. The last time I took a boat all the way down the Mackenzie River, and I wish Trudeau had been with me; perhaps then, when he talked about the Mackenzie Valley, he would have sounded less like a Chamber of Commerce booster. The Mackenzie is our greatest river, 1,100 miles long, an average of a mile wide, immense and immensely beautiful, draining almost a twelfth of the North American continent. It is embedded in our history; some of its settlements probably reach back as far as Alexander Mackenzie’s first exploration in 1789. Others grew up as fur-trading settlements: Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Wrigley, Fort Norman, Fort Good Hope, Arctic Red River, Fort McPherson, Aklavik, Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk. t THE MACKENZIE: AN INDUSTRIAL DEATH FOR THE PERFECT RIVER I can’t describe it to you. I don’t think anybody could. But if we destroy it, we will have destroyed one of the last perfect things left in this country.
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