KNOX – Snow angst, pipeline politics and remembering Arthur Black

Broadcaster Arthur Black on Salt Spring. (Image:

WEDNESDAY, AS the first frightening flakes floated down in daintily deceptive fashion, this appeared on the City of Victoria’s Twitter account: “Due to snow, tonight’s emergency preparedness workshop at City Hall has been CANCELLED.”

Which leads to two thoughts:

A) This was a prudent move, as the subsequent chaos on the roads was reminiscent of the Germans’ retreat from Stalingrad in 1943, and

B) Good thing Rachel Notley called off the wine war Thursday.

That is, if we Vancouver Islanders lose our water/will to live the moment we face the kind of weather Calgarians associate with the August long weekend, what are the odds of us standing up to Albertaliban trade-war terrorism?

The truth is, our unity is already in doubt, at least relative to theirs.

Tuesday, I wrote that more Angus Reid Institute polling on the pipeline question was due soon. Well, here it is: Results released Thursday indicate British Columbians are far more divided than Albertans.

The poll, taken Feb. 15-19, showed a large majority of Albertans — 82 per cent — backing their government. By comparison, Canadians as a whole were evenly split when asked which government — B.C.’s, which wants to delay Kinder Morgan’s pipeline-twinning project for environmental reasons, or Alberta’s, which wants to avoid delays for economic reasons — offered the most compelling argument.

What’s surprising is that the greatest support for the Horgan government’s position is found not in B.C. but in Quebec, where 64 per cent chose it over Alberta’s. In B.C. it was 58 per cent.

There was a further division within B.C., too, with a majority on Vancouver Island (61 per cent) and in Greater Vancouver (63 per cent) choosing B.C.’s arguments over Alberta’s, while the rest of the province was evenly split.

That leaves John Horgan looking at divisions Notley need not worry about. That’s true even at the party level. When asked whether the B.C. government was right to try to slow the pipeline project, 63 per cent of New Democrat supporters in B.C. said yes, while 85 per cent of Alberta NDP backers said no.

The Angus Reid Institute pointed to another finding as a problem for the B.C. position. When asked whether they favoured construction of the pipeline, 49 per cent of Canadians said they did, 33 per cent said they didn’t, and 18 said they were unsure. That last group suggests a wobbliness among the half of the country that picked the B.C. government’s arguments over Alberta’s.

Other findings:

• Not all those who picked B.C.’s side actually agreed with the decision to try to slow the pipeline project. Just 48 per cent of British Columbians and 45 per cent of Canadians said B.C. was right to do so.

• Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could have a political bill to pay in B.C., where just 54 per cent of those who voted for his Liberal Party side with him and oppose B.C.’s position. Trudeau risks alienating many of the B.C. voters who in 2015 elected 17 Liberal MPs, almost all of them in the Lower Mainland where opposition to the pipeline is highest.

• Opinions are shaped by the lens through which the debate is viewed. In Alberta, 77 per cent see the central issue as the pipelines themselves and the expansion of Canada’s oil-producing capacity. In B.C., 48 per cent see the debate as being about oil tankers and the potential for a spill on the coast.

A quick anecdote about broadcaster and humorist Arthur Black, who died Wednesday.

Back in 2012, I wrote a column in which I mentioned my favourite newspaper byline of all time: Athol P. Black of the Kamloops Sentinel.

That led Arthur Black to write in to say that after leaving Kamloops, Athol P. Black settled on Salt Spring. That was fine until Arthur, too, moved to the island. The problem was that while Athol’s phone number was listed, Arthur’s was not.

When listeners offended by Arthur’s CBC radio program Basic Black would dial directory assistance demanding a number for “Arthur Black, Salt Spring,” the operator would reply, “I do have an Athol Black on … ”

“THAT’S THE ONE!” the caller would roar into the receiver. “THE ATHOL WHO HAS THAT RADIO SHOW!”

Arthur said he regretted that he never met Athol P. Black, thanked him for fielding the angry calls, or presented him with a bottle of single malt.

Jack Knox is a born-and-raised Kamloops lad who once worked at the Kamloops Daily News. He is now a columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist. Since joining the Times Colonist in 1988, Jack has worked as a copy editor, city editor, editorial writer and editorial page editor. Prior to that he was an editor and reporter at newspapers in Campbell River, Regina and Kamloops. He won the Jack Webster Foundation’s City Mike Award for Commentator of the Year in 2015.

© Copyright Times Colonist

About Mel Rothenburger (6312 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on KNOX – Snow angst, pipeline politics and remembering Arthur Black

  1. I once wrote Arthur Black telling him to quit writing about how wonderful about Salt Spring Island was. I lived on Pender Island at the time,was an Islands Trust rep and we spent most of our time fighting developers who were bound and determined to ruin the place. I can,t remember the results.Old man Grenier was one of them.He had a humoungas plastic boat,was a plastic city guy and had a plastic lady.That was almost 30 years ago. There are still a few undeveloped lots.
    The Islands Trust is only partly effective. The present James Island fiasco is proof of that.

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