Critical infrastructure matters – Duh!

C-49 and Trans Mountain Pipeline reactions show that Canada's beginning to get the point

I thought the annoying expression “Duh!” had gone out with the 1980s.

But it certainly seems to have lived on, or come back, if my 10 year old daughter is anything to go by. She uses it against her sisters when she wants to express the notion that something is obvious and they are idiots for wondering about it, and she uses it against me when I act likewise. Her school bans the utterance of the word, so I guess home is the only place she gets to enjoy it. (I try to ban it too, but it comes back . . . )

Perhaps it’s regular use around me is crawling into my thinking, because I found myself thinking “Duh!” the other day when pondering the fact that the federal government and official opposition both seem to understand the overarching importance of critical infrastructure like rail transportation and pipelines for Canada. Of course they should get it, and shouldn’t need to wonder about it, because this is a nation living off commodity production, processing and then its transportation to global markets, but far too often it has been allowed to slip into the status of an “industrial” or “business” concern.

With C-49’s passage and the ongoing commitment to Trans Mountain through two governments, it seems like most of the folks in Ottawa are getting it. If we can’t get our crops to market, if we can’t get our oil to market, we’re a malfunctioning economy and a dysfunctional state. It is tens of thousands of farmers and tens of thousands of oilfield workers – as well as millions of other people – who are hurt when this country can’t get its business done.

It’s fine to be opposed to carbon emissions from oil. That can be affected by carbon taxes. It’s fine to resist giving pseudo-monopolies like Canadian National and Canadian Pacific taxpayer-protected profits. That can be controlled through regulations. But it’s not OK to neglect a transportation system, as this country has done for decades, or allow a pipeline expansion to be hijacked by environmentalists and indigenous activists.

Preserving and improving critical national infrastructure should be something so obvious that even wondering about it should elicit expressions of “Duh!” or preferably something more pleasant to hear but equivalent in meaning. What it shouldn’t be is a political issue that anybody thinks is fair to play with.

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