On Fassbender, on Stone! on, Clark!…on, to environmental oblivion!

Special to the Globe and Mail, published Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, written by Stephen Quinn.

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T’was a week before Christmas, a depressing year-ender,
Metro mayors had just heard from Peter Fassbender
They had asked for the power to plan transportation,
But were left with the usual humiliation.
“TransLink is great as it is!” said the minister,
Though his hidden agenda bordered on sinister.
“We want more transit, road pricing and density,
We don’t get this province’s auto propensity.”
“For decades we’ve had a great plan in the works,
But one that is always derailed by these jerks.”
Yes, the very same week they had sent mayors packing,
The province announced something other than fracking.
A giant new bridge, seven lanes of new traffic,
It came with a real cool CGI graphic.
And the price tag for this? Only 3.5 billion,
Give or take overruns, what’s another few million?
“The cost will be covered by tolls,” said Todd Stone,
“The rest of the cost from a sizable loan.”
“And we’re hoping the feds will step up and be seen,
If I can convince them that highways are green.”
And the groundbreaking for this historic erection?
Some time around the next BC election.
Meanwhile, 45 hundred klics north,
Santa was pacing the floor back and forth.
“With Arctic ice melting and polar bears croaking,
What are those guys down in Vancouver smoking?”
“Do they really think a new bridge is the answer?
It’s like fighting a tumour by injecting more cancer.
Santa knew what it meant to live climate change,
He found public apathy decidedly strange.
“You can’t build your way out of traffic congestion,
You’d have to be daft to even make the suggestion.”
“Why can’t they see greenhouse gas is the culprit,
Should I have to keep preaching from my now-thawing pulpit?”
He rigged up his reindeer and prepared them to fly,
Yes, a week early, but he needed to try,
To convince politicians they’d better change course,
That a fossil-fueled future they shouldn’t endorse.
On his sleigh he took flight, just after dark,
He plotted a course straight to see Christy Clark.
The Premier was nestled, all snug in her bed,
While visions of LNG danced in her head.
When Santa arrived as he does with a clatter,
She found herself facing a more serious matter.
“Shush,” Santa said. “Yes, I am the real thing,
I’m just here to talk, I don’t have any bling.
“I sent you an email. Didn’t you read it?
Oh wait, let me guess, did you triple delete it?
“Very funny,” said Christy. “You don’t get this town.
I make sure now I never write anything down.”
“Well the gist of it was,” Santa said to the Preem,
“That the future you’re plotting is not very green.”
“Now I know what you’ve said, but I judge by your actions,
And so far they’ve given me no satisfaction.”
“A referendum on transit, then a new 10-lane span?
Forgive me for saying, but that just doesn’t scan.”
“And I get your motives, the votes you might win,
But your us-and-them politics is wearing quite thin.”
“To toll the main routes? To the south of the Fraser,
Here, why don’t I hand you this political razor.”
“You don’t need a psychic, or exotic soothsayer.
Why don’t you just listen to your own mayors?”
His logic was sound, his arguments clear,
But it was something the Premier did not want to hear.
“I’ll give it some thought,” she said with a yawn.
Then rolled over and counted the hours till dawn.
“She’s not even listening,” Santa said with a sneer,
Then whistled and shouted and called for his reindeer.
Then a week later, on Christmas Eve night,
Santa crept back to Christy’s – he was making things right.
A big lump of coal, he left at her feet,
And handwritten note that she couldn’t delete.
“Please take this coal as a single small token,
A reminder to you that something is broken.”
“It’s not meant as a threat, there’s no need to report it,
But if I know you well, you’ll try to export it.”

Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver.

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