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Monday, April 2, 2012

Desperate measures, desperate times?

Hijack seems a popular word lately getting thrown around in all sorts of contexts and conversations. Conservation groups were recently accused of hijacking the environmental review process by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. Oliver used the metaphor on the day before the Joint Review Panel was to begin hearings on the Northern Gateway Pipeline project because over four thousand people signed up to make oral statements.

When I hear the word hijack I think of armed and masked people storming an airplane and holding the crew and passengers hostage in a desperate attempt to get whatever it is they are after. Alerting people about a public process examining the environmental impacts of a major project with the potential for devastating effects on their waters, lands, lives and livelihoods and helping them sign up to exercise their legitimate democratic right and civil obligation to participate doesn't jump to mind for me.

Hijack means:

"to steal (cargo) from a truck or other vehicle after forcing it to stop."

"to rob a vehicle after forcing it to stop."

"to seize a vehicle by force or threat of force."

Streamlining the environmental review process with a deadline that may actually limit public involvement sounds more like a hijacking to me. Seems like a pretty desperate measure. Say it ain't so, Joe.

Then, several weeks after Joe said the word, Mainstream Canada posted to their Facebook friends: "Feel free to hijack the Living Oceans Auto-ma-spam-bulator..."

They meant one of our Action Alerts - presumably the one where people could send a message to the Fisheries Minister telling him to stop licencing the needless killing of marine mammals at salmon farms and instead to support a transition to closed containment.

Now that was misusing the "h" word. Mainstream's Facebook friends won't be seizing, stealing or robbing anything from us here at Living Oceans Society or from our supporters. Our Action Alerts are the way they are because we want people to use their own words when sending their message from our website. We believe that has a more powerful impact on the recipient. We also believe in freedom of speech and we won't be changing the way we do things any time soon.

So were the misuses intentional? Hard to say but it seems like more and more people are resorting to desperate measures to regain their social license.

Will Soltau is Sustainable Fisheries and Salmon Farming Campaign Manager for Living Oceans Society.

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