Oh, boy, are people mad about the Trans Mountain court decision.
This past year I have had two columns go absolutely viral. The first was my analysis of the Gerald Stanley trial. It was initially posted on the Battlefords News-Optimist website, and promptly went nuts. From that site alone, it was seen over 179,000 times, and it was reposted or reprinted in several of our chain’s publications, particularly in British Columbia.
Last week’s column, “8,000 jobs disappeared this morning, and one of them was mine,” was about the court decision putting a halt on construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project until even more consultation is done with First Nations and the impact of tanker traffic on orcas is considered. It saw a similar response. Sister publication JWN Daily Oil & Gas News, which reposted it, listed it number 1 in top 10 stories they had that week.
Alberta’s United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney posted it on Facebook, saying, “With all the commentary going on, give some thought to the workers and families that are now facing devastation firsthand because of the Trans Mountain decision – and all those counting on the pipeline for future prosperity.”
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, when posting it, said, “These 8,000 workers and their families deserve an answer, Justin Trudeau. What are you going to do now?”
Former premier Brad Wall was complimentary is his post as well. Bam! With these three heavy hitters sharing it, this column also went nuts. On the Rally 4 Resources Facebook page alone it was shared 2,200 times. Even the former premier of the Yukon, Darrell Paslowski (who gave me my first job at 16 as a stock boy when he owned the Yorkton Shoppers Drug Mart), shared it.
These two pieces have been more widely read, by orders of magnitude, than anything I’ve done in 26 ½ years of writing this column. And the response provides some very interesting contrast.
I’m no Christie Blatchford, who happens to be the best columnist in this country, bar none. She exhibits more guts in her writing, calling a spade a spade, than the entire newsrooms of CBC, CTV and Global combined. She probably gets a response like this on an almost daily basis. But for me, this is all new. Some day I hope to grow up to be like Christie.
The Stanley column seemed to hit many people very personally. I received emails from hundreds of individuals, and responded to nearly all of them. It seemed to hit people in their core. Nearly all were positive, with only a handful of hate mail in my inbox.
The online comments, in the hundreds, were similarly nearly all in agreement. Perhaps the haters couldn’t find a lot of fault in my points, and you have to remember haters will find fault in anything. Most of the comments, and I read every one I could find, addressed issues raised in the column.
The Trans Mountain piece, on the other hand, had a completely different sort of response. While I don’t have numbers yet, it appears to have had a similar sort of reach. But that’s where the similarities end.
On the initial post there were next to no comments. I only got three or four direct emails on it. But I found hundreds of comments elsewhere and on the hundreds of shares. (It was shared 994 times on the Pipeline News Facebook page alone). Of these comments, next to none focused on the points made in the column. Sure, a few quoted a line or two, but the vast, vast majority were something else entirely.
They were people screaming their rage into the ether, madder than hell that this project, like Northern Gateway and Energy East before it, seems to be dying, and all because of the fumbling machinations of our prime minister.
The vitriol for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (routinely referred to in the comments as “Turdeau,” “Trudope,” etc,) was palpable. Commenters seemed to want an apple box, any apple box, on which to stand and scream their displeasure. While some of the anger was directed at the courts, most of it was directed at Trudeau.
With the Stanley column, it was a catharsis for many people to reach out to me as someone who they could finally vent their private, personal frustrations. With the Trans Mountain column, a few people pointed out in online comments that they were among those whose jobs had just disappeared into the ether. But most people were simply mad. And more than a few suggested the breakup of Canada is nigh.
“Time for separation from Canada. Sask. and Alberta, let’s do it. Screw the rest. Done,” was one of the comments.
When this is how people are feeling, Canada has a problem. Is Justin Trudeau listening?
Brian Zinchuk is editor of Pipeline News. He can be reached at email@example.com.