COMMENTARY · 21st November 2011
Arm in Arm
In dangerous times strong leaders emerge; leaders who voice their convictions and are resolute in their stance. History bears witness to those heroes, those champions, and we remember their names; names like Gandhi, Churchill, and Guevara. We in Terrace have entered a time of danger for a threat lurks upon our unguarded border, eying a route to our coast, plotting, waiting. As happens in such times, a leader has emerged and his words have rung out for all to hear. His stance is resolute and on his words we have re-elected him to represent us.
With a slight clearing of his throat Dave Pernarowski signaled to the community forum audience and an expectant hush descended on the REM theatre. Enbridge is on everyone's mind, yet the shape of the conflict to come is unknown; in a preemptive volley of opposition, as great leaders tend to do, Dave Pernarowski voiced his willingness to fight. Without undue hesitation, Mr. Pernarowski revealed his conviction:
“I think it is important that I make a point on the Enbridge project...we can't have that project. So what I would do, is stand up with the majority of people in this community, and fight that project, arm in arm, if that what it takes.” (Nov. 8Th 2011)
Without clenching his fists, or raising his voice, Dave Pernarowski captivated the crowd. The vigor of Pernarowski's statement electrified the attending audience and the quiet November evening exploded with raucous cheers; only the decorum of the moderated venue prevented the crowd from breaking out into a fevered chanting of his name.
Great leaders do not stand alone and this fact is not lost on Pernarowski, for he has suggested alliances, and he has constructed a network of allies with whom he stands...arm in arm:
“In talking with people from our community, like Steve and Martin and Ellis Ross, when we went to meet with Haisla; there is no way that they want that pipeline...we can't have that project.” (Nov. 8Th 2011)
Signalling his desire to ally with First Nations against Enbridge, Pernarowski mentions the name of a powerful and vocal opponent to the pipeline project, the Haisla, and again the audience responds. The extended clapping of hands conveys to Pernarowski that we are with him, he has our approval, and our forgiveness for past missteps.
Clear to all in attendance, Pernarowski's chief concern is for his community, a trait common to champions and heroes alike:
“what we need to look at is what is in the best interest of the community and this region and that is not going to be Enbridge pipelines.” (Nov. 8Th 2011).
The ancient author Sun Tzu, revealed in his text the need for a leader to understand the battlefield, to know intimately the terrain upon which a conflict might occur, and again Pernarowski has revealed himself adept. A student of history and of geography, Pernarowski is clearly aware of the folly involved in the creation of a pipeline through remote, inaccessible wilderness:
“I don't think that we can run a pipeline through this region with the rivers and streams and mountainous terrain safely....” (Nov. 8Th 2011)
History holds many heroic names, some of which have become iconic. Often it is only when threats emerge that heroes rise up. On an unremarkable November evening Dave Pernarowksi rose up and delineated his position in regards to a threat; he has used his voice to decry a behemoth encamped on our border and has used martial language to voice his opposition to tyranny.
Pernarowski can be likened to Che Guevara for both have voiced a willingness to fight against injustice, to go to battle for their community.
“I fight for the things I believe in, with all the weapons at my disposal...if they attack, we shall fight to the end.” Che Guevara.
“So what I would do, is stand up with the majority of people in this community, and fight that project, arm in arm, if that what it takes.” Dave Pernarowski.
Direct quotes courtesy of the Terrace Daily Online recordings at the REM Theatre November 8 2011.