While there is much that is positive about social media in terms of staying connected with friends, or being in touch with like-minded people in terms of hobbies and interests, it is far from an ideal medium for news about happenings in our world.
Far too quickly discussion can become little more than rhetoric, hyperbole, and outright nonsense. Wading through the straw to find the kernels of truth and fact can be a tiring process that frankly is often not worth the effort.
We may live in a time that affords us the greatest access to information ever, but it does not assure us of its accuracy.
In that regard we need to be particularly vigilant in assessing what we take in in terms of background and fact on issues, if we are to have an informed position.
That is where I feel we are today in terms of western alienation. The squeaky wheel of those suggesting separation are getting play, but whether they should be is another question.
They rail against the transfer payments that go to Quebec, which in the short contest of the last decade look extreme. But, the grey hairs in my moustache mean I have lived long enough to remember Saskatchewan happily cashing transfer cheques headed this way for years too. Every province has received payments at one point. That is the essence of being part of a confederation where a mechanism to spread wealth exists.
And of course equalization payments do not involve wealthy provinces making direct payments to poor provinces. The money comes from the federal treasury.
Then there is the current downturn in the Canadian oil sector, and the displeasure with the inability of pipelines now seen as the sector’s salvation built.
Of course when oil was $100 a barrel a decade or so ago, pipelines were not exactly on the front burner for anyone even if the industry was flush with funds to get it started then.
That is not to suggest the oil sector in the west is not hurting.
However, having a sector hurting is not suddenly a new thing.
Farmers with a few grey hairs will remember farm gate stands to stop foreclosures when bank interest rates exploded to 20 per cent and gutted the farm sector.
People might recall Uranium City, a mining community of some 5000, that today is home to less than 100, a mine closure gutting the community.
The Maritimes is littered with closed fish processing plants, closed when cod numbers declined and a moratorium on the fishery was instituted in 1992.
Oshawa faces issues with an announced auto plant closure.
And the supply-managed dairy and poultry sectors have basically been played as bargaining chips in international trade.
Sectors face hardships – perhaps too often – but it is not new, not even to the oil sector.
Pipelines may be part of the answer, but ultimately hardships are part of business, obstacles that must be overcome to emerge stronger, or be lost as has happened across Canada before.