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Alister Starke/the Gauntlet

Rejecting dialogue

The strategic failure of Greenpeace

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The long-standing feud between Greenpeace and various governing bodies can be traced through a considerable history of finger pointing and nose thumbing. Greenpeace has been challenging government environmental policies for decades. Alberta — with it’s less-than-environmentally-friendly oil industry — has been a popular focus for the organization.
The most recent example of Greenpeace’s displeasure with the province occurred this past week. In a 31-hour standoff, Greenpeace members from Canada, France and the United States snuck into a mine site owned by Shell Oil. The site, Muskeg River mine, located north of Fort McMurray, is part of the controversial oilsands project. Once inside, members chained themselves to three pieces of machinery and unfurled a banner reading “Tarsands: Climate Crime.” Work on the site stopped for a few hours, but resumed before the protestors left. While a safe working distance was maintained, mine workers largely ignored the members
chained to the earthmovers.
Wonderful though it may be to see an organization so committed to the planet we live on, their tactics can be downright frustrating. In this particular incident, representatives from Shell offered to discuss their environmental policies with the Greenpeace members, who instead decided to stay chained to the machinery. One would think that when someone gives you a chance to prove your argument in a civil manner, it would be a good thing to jump on.
This refusal only proves exactly how stubborn Greenpeace is.
This is not the first time that Greenpeace has demonstrated against Alberta’s oil policies, yet the oilsands are still running strong. If they want to have any lasting effect on the public conscience, they need to find another approach. They’ve been chaining themselves to all sorts of things over the past few decades; it’s a gimmick that’s gotten a bit old. Seen as extremists by the public, it is difficult for them to be taken seriously when they pull stunts like this.
This is not to say the government has it all right either, far from it. In a world that is so environmentally precarious, a governing body needs to be able to see the issues and do more than shrug.
If more proactive steps were taken regarding these problems, there would be no need for organizations such as Greenpeace to publicly point out governments’ shortcomings. Our government needs to take a serious look at their policies. Frankly, their shortsightedness is embarrassing to Albertans.
What we need is cooperation from both sides. The only way that anything is going to be accomplished in situations like this is if the opposing sides sit down together and not only talk, but listen. Like elementary school children, the two parties need to learn to get along and respect each other’s positions, and if they can’t manage that, it brings into question whether or not these are really the people we want representing the two sides.
If nothing else, Shell learned a valuable lesson: their security systems need upgrading.

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