Print Edition: January 22, 2014
In an office there lived a writer. Not a smelly, sticky, dirty office, filled with litter and coffee stains. This was a writer’s office, and that means comfort. In this office, there was one particular writer: me, a very meek and soft-spoken writer of some degree. It came to me, as most adventures do, in the form of a request to attend an annual journalism conference in Edmonton.
This invitation came suddenly, as if out of nowhere, less than a day before the trek. In a whirlwind of effort, I packed my things and was off to a city I had never seen before.
We travelled by plane over the misty peaks of the Rocky Mountains — my first flight, in fact. It was smooth enough — only one of our party was stopped by security. Then up we went over mountain and dale, then over the valley filled with ice and snow. Shortly after, we landed safely in the snowy cold. What we found was beyond our imagination.
We took a train from the airport to the city centre. The first sight we saw when we left the station in high spirits was the last thing we hoped to see. One of our party pointed out to us the great tower of Enbridge, reaching high above the other buildings, its great yellow-and-red logo embossed high on the surface of its peak. And not only that, for as another member of our company alerted me, the air reeked of oil.
I was in denial at first. There was no way that such a great city filled with so many people could support an enterprise that does nothing more than crush environmental matters. My journey had not taken me over the misty mountainous peaks to find a glorious, clean land. No. We had landed in Dol Guldur.
Later in conversation with Edmontonians, we met with devout opposition when it came to our ideas of natural preservation. We warned about the problems involved in transporting oil via pipeline through our glorious natural province, but our ideas were cut down, demolished by hard, dark responses.
“A hippie,” one of us was called. There is no room for such environmental thoughts when economy is on the line.
One afternoon while I was out walking the city’s streets, there was a bus on the side of the road. It had blown out a vital component in its engine and had spilled transmission fluid far along the gutter. The driver of the bus was talking to a woman at the bus stop as I passed, and as if it was destiny, he said to her, “Imagine what an environmentalist would say if he saw this.” He spoke in a mocking tone, as if he would look the “hippie” in the eyes and laugh.
The situation appeared to be quite simple. I was behind enemy lines. Enbridge, the great oil tycoon that had taken over and darkened the landscape of Alberta, had also indoctrinated its residents.
The people of Edmonton had become the sort to laugh at environmentalism and worship sheer profit. I thought of the destructive actions of Saruman and the orcs. They had been bought. The oil runs deep in Edmonton and wears a happy smile. The Enbridge lobby window was lined with happy-looking fake plants — made from oil.
Luckily, there was little trouble on our journey and our company returned safely, not coated in bitumen.
The danger had passed, but my reflections are scarred in my mind.
If our neighbours, who control the oil industry in that region, have the mindset that economy, not ecology, is the primary asset of our planet, it is hard to say what may happen in our future.
What future abuses will we have to put up with if the province of Alberta believes they are doing the right thing?
I left our Shire as one man, and came back as not really the same man as I was before. I hope, and fear, for our future in this glorious province.
Alas, the ideals of our neighbouring province could fuel the enemy’s fires and send him on a destructive collision course with our natural land.