Mr. Brian Lee Crowley, a recent speaker at the Chamber of Commerce, is quoted in the Northern View as saying, “we cannot as a society allow organized minorities to oppose democratically-created institutions”.
Wow, this sounds pretty darn anti-democratic, if not irrational but perhaps the quote in the Northern View is out of context.
Further by suggesting we divide the definition of “social licence” into who is for or against a proposed project begs the uncomfortable question of who is going to decide who belongs in which camp and what their fate should be. For the sake of productive dialogue I suggest we stick with one definition of social licence, meaning the general will and respect of citizens and communities.
This said, I acknowledge that there is a great sense of frustration being expressed by Mr. Crowley on behalf of project proponents and supporters of new projects.
It can sometimes seem that activist ideology is swaying decision-makers and putting at risk the very kinds of enterprise that has provided our communities with opportunities for an amazing standard of living, national security and outstanding healthcare.
However, to be clear, activists are not “decision-makers” nor are proponents. Decision-making is the role of government. And while governments should remain open to considering divergent points of view in the end it is government at its many different levels that is charged with the responsibility to make decisions that will continue to enable benefits and protect citizens.
My view is that the result of proposed industry one-offs like Pacific NorthWest LNG on Lelu Island has been to polarize opposition and a failure to build general social licence. Proponents, port authority representatives and an inclusive Prince Rupert regional advisory council need to work together on an ongoing basis to envision, build and monitor safe, well-placed cooperative infrastructure for projects suitable to north coast conditions and communities.