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What has been missing in the debate about energy and pipeline development in the West? A female perspective, apparently. At least, that’s the purported rationale for a trip along the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline route that is being led by Jody Williams. Williams, a Nobel Peace Prize winner for her work on banning landmines, and a delegation of other prominent women, including Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer, will participate in a week of meetings to — well, to do what, exactly?
The trip is being organized by Nobel Women’s Initiative, a group the Canadian Press describes as “an Ottawa-based organization of women who have won the Nobel Peace Prize and advocate women’s rights.” One of the weird things about that (and there are many) is that only 15 women have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Ever. So, you’d think they’d be able to do whatever they need to do — including advocating women’s rights and giving thumbs downs to pipelines — without a formal group. There are 15 of you, ladies. Just get on a conference call and work it out. You don’t need a website and a newsletter.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. The pipeline trip. So, here’s the other weird thing. The Executive Director of Nobel Women’s Initiative, Liz Bernstein, says that the group has not prejudged the pipeline issue and will be open to thoughts on all sides of the debate. “I’m sure we’ll hear all kinds of perspectives,” she told CP. “And so we’ll be listening to all of them before forming any of our recommendation at the end of our visit.”
That would be an admirable approach if not for the fact that Jody Williams has already appeared in a video, available on the Nobel Women’s Initiative website, in which she declares that the “delegation is going to go and look at what is happening in the possible expansion of the tarsands… and the women’s perspective on why they don’t want to see that happen.”
It’s not a quote that makes Williams’s mind sound very open. And if there’s any doubt, it’s killed when Williams goes on to explain, “That’s our contribution that’s a little bit different than from other people who are working together to stop the tarsands and to stop the destruction of our planet.”
Any guesses on which way those recommendations are going to turn out? My prediction: Woe betide any females who happen to view the Northern Gateway Pipeline as anything less than an assault on women’s justice, equality and safety.
For the web version of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/10/09/marni-soupcoff-the-female-pipeline-perspective-wait-what/