Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Jack Crompton, the mayor of Whistler, has damaged his community but gained nothing.
For the past two years, environmental groups have been pressuring Canadian mayors – who should be focused on the plowing of snow, the collection of household trash, and the filling of potholes – to become climate warriors.
Write to fossil fuel companies, these mayors have been told. Tell oil companies they owe you millions in climate compensation.
A 20-page PDF posted on the website of AwareWhistler.org explains it all. Here we find activists urging the mayor and city councilors of the Whistler, British Columbia ski resort to join a campaign to
hold fossil fuel polluters accountable by sending climate accountability letters to twenty of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies, asking them to pay their fair share for climate costs that are being incurred by each community.
Yeah, that sounds like a plan with about zero chance of success. How would any business react to multiple scolding letters demonizing what they do all day yet demanding money? Surely no grown adult had any expectation that big cheques would magically begin arriving at city hall.
It’s unclear what Jack Crompton, the brand new mayor of Whistler, actually thought would happen. But I assure you he’s not looking like the hero of 2018.
Last week he released a video explaining that Whistler had merely taken part in a “public relations campaign led by an environmental group.” The aim, he said, wasn’t to “make anyone feel unwelcome in Whistler” (watch his video at the top of this post).
But the damage was already done. Companies connected to Canada’s oil industry had announced they’d be boycotting a January conference in Whistler that has been held there for the past 22 years. Organizers now say they’re considering an alternative location for future events.
The Whistler Chamber of Commerce has declined to comment on how this climate letter will harm the community’s economic well-being. But numerous businesses and individuals who reside in the neighbouring province of Alberta (home to Canada’s oil patch) have been profoundly alienated.
In one post currently circulating on Facebook, an individual signing themselves “Alberta Oil and Gas” pledges not to fly or drive to Whistler, not to stay in any Whistler hotels, or to use any Whistler ski lifts since all of those activities rely on fossil fuels.
The writer further pledges not to shop in Whistler retail outlets since much of the merchandise for sale – from skis to snowboards to waterproof clothing – are manufactured using plastics that come from oil and natural gas.
You’ve got to hand it to climate activists. They’re experts at creating ill-will, while achieving nothing meaningful.