Friday, 18 April 2014

The Little Sign

I was driving into Prince Albert yesterday to a Forest Management Planning meeting with Weyerhaeuser when I came across this little sign near Debden while stopped at a stop sign. I was struck by the irony of the situation.

I've worked a lot with forest companies and the Forest Service over the last few years on forest plan development as well as the provincial standards that guide that work. As part of these plans and standards, forest companies are required to engage local communities and consult with First Nations treaty rights holders prior to any new activities taking place on the ground. The oil and gas sector, on the other hand, only needs to stick a little sign in the ground to make sure the drilling crew doesn't get lost on their way to the site. So long as their activities fall under the umbrella of 'exploration', they are not required to do an Environmental Impact Assessment or any engagement and consultation with local communities. In Saskatchewan, a project on private land like the one in the photo is only required to do an Environmental Review, which is simply a checklist full of yes or no questions that the company fills in themselves and is then reviewed by Lands Branch. In most cases the work does not need to wait for the Lands Branch review to be complete before starting. Public engagement and First Nations consultation is not part of this review. In some cases, up to 80% of the infrastructure required to carry out the eventual project is constructed during this 'exploration' stage, meaning most of the set up of their sites is not subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment, consultation or public review. Personally, I don't think this is right.

But it caused me to appreciate the work of the forest companies. Their activities are more visible than other sectors. We see the cuts. Their footprint appears large. And because of that, and the heat they sometimes take for it, they have a government imposed set of requirements for planning and consultation that the oil/gas and mining sectors don't have. Look at the bigger picture, where the environmental risks are greater and what is really at stake, and it is really too bad that governments don't require the same level of planning, engagement and disclosure from the oil/gas and mining sectors that they require of the foresters. Yes, forestry is visible and we don't like to see it while we're sitting in our boats while out fishing. And when done poorly, it can do a lot of damage to habitat, etc. But when it comes to punching holes through our drinking water aquifers and other things like that, the margins for error are very small and the implications of any mistakes are great. Which makes the reality that the oil and gas companies are not required to disclose any part of the nature of their plans to local communities and citizens prior to the exploration stage very troubling. And wrong.

I'm not opposed to oil and gas development in principle. It's great for the economy and things like that. I get it. However, I am suggesting that if the forest companies are required to and are able to do these things, why can't the oil and gas companies be required to do it too? Through the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, companies like Weyerhaeuser and groups like CPAWS have proven that by working together, communities can have the economic benefits of the resources in the area while also being responsible stewards of the land. However, without engagement and consultation, this balance will be very difficult to achieve.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Miley Cyrus, Tyler Bozak and the Real Reason the Leafs Missed the Playoffs...Again!

I've been a Leaf fan for as long as I can remember. And it sucks sometimes.

Borje Salming
But we've had some great players that I remain a fan of to this day. My favorite still is Borje Salming, the trailblazer that proved Swedes are more than tough enough to play in the NHL. A very close second is Saskatchewan farm boy Wendel Clark. Rounding out my top 5 all-time are Doug Gilmour (no matter who your team is, you can't not like Dougie), Lanny Mcdonald (the moustache) and Darryl Sittler (NHL record 10 points in one game). These 5 players represent the only two brief periods of time since that last Cup win in 1967 that the Leaf's were legitimate contenders.

However, despite the futility of today's version of the team, there is one current Leaf that was looking like he was about to crack my top 5 fave Leafs of all time - Regina native Tyler Bozak. But he blew it! Here's how...

Now, don't get me wrong. I still think Bozie is arguably the most under-appreciated forward in the NHL. After all, he centered a line that, for a large part of the season was one of the top 3 forward lines in the league. Yet people still doubt his abilities as a legitimate 1st line center. He kills penalties and has been the Leaf's top faceoff guy for the last 2 years. In fact, had he not missed that ill-fated Game 7 vs. Boston in last year's playoffs it is probably very safe to assume that the Leaf's would not have blown that huge lead and lost the series, simply because he would have had a chance to win a faceoff, and even if he didn't, his defensive presence may have been just enough to get the puck cleared out of the zone that one extra time.

Tyler Bozak
Nope, Tyler is not in my bad books because of anything he does on the ice. Rather, it is due to one very disturbing off-ice decision that is without a doubt the cause of the Leaf's tanking down the stretch and losing almost every game since the Olympic break!

Between the lines of this recent article from Sportsnet, you will clearly see how Tyler Bozak cost the Leafs the season. He was given the important task of choosing the Leaf's victory song. Now, thanks to him, anytime the Leafs win a game their reward is that they get to listen to "We Can't Stop" by Miley Cyrus! I mean, that is not incentive for a hockey player to go out and win a hockey game!

Picture it. You're a professional hockey player. You've just won a huge game. You're feeling pretty good about yourself. You're big and strong. You believe this is the team that can go all the way. You're in the zone! High fives, shouting, spitting and scratching! And then...BAM!!

It's our party we can do what we want
It's our party we can say what we want
It's our party we can love who we want
We can kiss who we want
We can sing what we want
Red cups and sweaty bodies everywhere
Hands in the air like we don't care
'Cause we came to have so much fun now
Bet somebody here might get some now

Good feeling gone...

His co-DJ, defenceman Cody Franson could have and should have stopped him. He even admitted that he didn't like the song himself. However, much like Franson's performance on the ice this year, he simply let the speedy forward get by him rather than do what was obviously necessary for the good of the team and take Bozak out before he could add the song to the team playlist!   

Tyler Bozak, you're a really good hockey player. And a Saskatchewan boy. I like you a lot! But, next year, if you are still picking the songs, remember this; Hockey players want to win games. And when they win, they want Rock n' Roll! In fact, why even look outside your own province of Saskatchewan for your inspiration! Might I simply suggest "Feeling Good" by the Sheepdogs?

Feelin' Good oh like you know I should
Got the pressure beat just like you know I would
Feelin' good oh like you know I should
Got the pressure beat
Now those are victory lyrics! 

On the other hand, given the obvious negative effect Miley's music had in inspiring this team to victory, whoever next year's coach is (doubting very much that Randy Carlyle will still be around) could consider incorporating some Miley style twerking into the grueling punishment regime that the team will endure should they continue to stink up the arenas!

Whatever it takes! We want the Stanley Cup! Go Leafs Go!

Now, back to work...