Dear Editor: I’m writing in response to the letter from Mr. Leo Quilty of Mount Moriah in last Saturday’s Western Star, who seems to think I, the NDP MHA for St. John’s East and my caucus’s Environment critic, am working for the interests of big oil here on the east coast.
I can quite honestly say this is the first time anyone has come to this conclusion, or anything like it, and thought I would drop you a line to clarify a few things for Mr. Quilty and your other readers.
To begin with, I am a self-taught person who has come to know the oil industry over the last 17 years, almost entirely as a result of my volunteer work with the Consumers’ Group for Fair Gas Prices.
While I have no corporate pedigree, as Mr. Quilty seems to think, I do have knowledge that I like to share with people. Many people may know that I use that knowledge to advocate on everyone’s behalf; before they called me “MHA” I was known as “the Gas Man” because of my weekly fuel price forecasts (which I continue to do).
I hold the west coast and its people close. I spent summers with family on Clarence Street, and on the many beaches of Deer Lake. I am not the first or the last to marvel at the almost magical wonders of the Long Range Mountains, and I cherish the memory of my first experiences salmon fishing on Boom Siding. But deliberately advocate for the curtailment of oil exploration on the west coast because I’m supporting east coast oil interests?
There is no mystery why I feel such concern for the industrial hunt for oil and the use of fracking in any region of the province, let alone the west coast — and be assured that I would be just as vocal if fracking were being considered on the Avalon Peninsula.
With no proper regulation of the use of our water resources to feed an oil-hungry world, is it any wonder people of the west coast themselves have grave concerns over any use of fracking and its risky process of oil extraction? The research and reports that abound about fracking’s after-effects in other places point to future dangers to our water and our people. They cannot be ignored.
The people of the west coast went looking for a political voice to express their concerns. I shared their concerns and have been honoured to speak at meetings in Stephenville, Corner Brook and elsewhere, and to present petitions in the House of Assembly on behalf of the thousands of people who have signed them.
This is not blanket anti-development, as people who actually are allied with the big oil companies will try to tell you.
This is protecting the environment and our people’s rights to clean water, air and earth.
A few people may feel threatened when I speak out for those who would protect our water. If that is the case, I can say that I’m doing exactly what I am paid by the people of the province to do: advocate on their behalf.
George Murphy, NDP MHA, St. John’s East