Open letters seem to be in season, so here is mine, to Mark MacDonald.
Mark, I realize you have the interests of Cornwallâ€™s residents at heart and you really want to do something positive for the community, and if it just happens to spin off into a few extra votes come October, well â€“ bonus! Though Iâ€™m sure that never crossed your mind.
I think youâ€™ve got this protest thing down pat by now, but permit me to offer a few thoughts.
If my neighbour did anything on his property without first consulting me, then dumping a shack on his lawn and publicly calling him a bully is certainly the first thing Iâ€™d think of. If he was bigger than me, I might think about it a bit longer, but thatâ€™s just me. A lot of fiery, fearless rhetoric usually works, especially with a megaphone. Itâ€™s just too bad our local police have no sense of history being made, or a sense of humour for that matter.
But this neighbour doesnâ€™t even live here, so it might make more sense to take your protest out of the unfrequented regions of our port and into his front yard. Maybe you and your volunteers could chain yourselves and your pretty pink shack next to the eternal flame on Parliament Hill. That might make a difference!
Itâ€™s right downtown, so a lot more people would notice you. You could probably end up on national TV and rally expat Cornwallites from every corner of the country. Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™d all want to rush over and offer support, just like all our local residents have done here. The police surely wouldnâ€™t bother you on hallowed ground â€¦ and the poobahs at Transport Canada are just a stoneâ€™s throw away, so theyâ€™d have to notice. What could go wrong?
Now, about that pink shack. I heard you were employing child labour and bypassing the paintersâ€™ guild. Tsk, tsk. Itâ€™s not a good political move to risk upsetting the Childrenâ€™s Aid Society and Mothers Without Borders. And you might have trouble getting help the next time you want your ceiling painted.
This talk about a referendum might not be the best strategy either. Just mentioning the R word causes uneasy shivers up and down the spine of every true blue (or is it red and white?) Canadian. Support for the concept has tanked, if youâ€™ll forgive the expression. The word is about to be erased from the official Canadian dictionary, both English and French versions. So, it might be better to talk about something else.
Spreading fear about chemicals leaking into the river from brand new, state of the art, corrosion resistant tanks is kind of iffy, too. After all, itâ€™s salt and 90% of the worldâ€™s water is full of it. So are storm sewers every spring and you know where that goes. More harmful things are passing by Cornwall on top of the water every day (and night). Some of them are just wrapped in plastic bags! Of course, an earthquake could happen, but then people will worry more about all the local gas stations than a couple of salt tanks. Protesting underground gas tanks might have possibilities thoughâ€¦
Hereâ€™s a final thought. When complete, the tanks will protrude less than two feet above the ground. The steel mill and warehouse are a bigger blight on the landscape, but they were there first. Since youâ€™ll be in Ottawa anyway, maybe you could ask about planting some trees and grass around the tanks, put in park benches, and so on; maybe add your pink shack off to one side. It could be marketed as an historical park â€“ the site of the great tank protest of 2014.
And thatâ€™s the way I see it.