MP runs gas station

May 4, 2014

On small newspapers, a journalist can advance quickly. In the 1980s, anyway, young journalists often ‘cut their teeth’ on rural newspapers and quickly went from being a reporter to editing and then on to the urban newspapers where their speed of promotion usually slowed down. 

When I began work at The Gravelbourg Gazettethe newspaper’s publisher owned another newspaper further south in Saskatchewan in  the beautiful rolling hills,near the United States border, known as the badlands. In a matter of months, that newspaper’s editor got a job in Saskatoon so I was ‘kicked upstairs’ to The Borderland Reporter editorship. Of course, I continued to write virtually all the articles besides doing some extra duties as editor but now I did it for a different newspaper although my boss remained the same.

This is how I came to write stories, including the following story, for The Borderland Reporter. It is a story that could have been entitled “Trust a Conservative to Protest Change”. Read on:

The Borderland Reporter

February 16, 1983

MP runs gas station

by Tanya Lester

Len Gustafson, Member of Parliament (MP) for Assiniboia, is one of 32 Conservative MPs involved in running an Ottawa station which serves gas in gallons rather than litres.

Operating the gas station on the imperial measurement system is a Conservative protest against the Liberal government’s method of enforcing metric conversion. “What we are opposed to is the fact that the government is forcing people to change to metric, Mr. Gustafson said.

Mr. Gustafson said the Conservative MP’s are not advocating a “roll back to gallons” although he pointed out there is some move away from litres and back to gallons in the United States.

The MP believes the government should “let those change who want to and allow the country to operate under both measurement methods”. He cited a case where a gas stations owner in Tribune, Saskatchewan had to close his station, the only one in town, because he could not afford to pay the $2500 to convert the gas pumps. A government inspector had told him it was mandatory to make the change.

Mr. Gustafson felt the Liberal government has reversed its original decision to allow people to make the change to metric on a voluntary basis without bringing their intentions to Parliament where the issue could have been debated.

To operate on both measurement systems in the world market does not pose a problem for large international dealers as to make the conversion between what a number of bushels would work out to in tonnes, for example, can be simply done with a chart, Mr. Gustafson said. 

The MP pointed out although the government has compelled grain elevators in the West to change the metric system, when the grain reaches the Lakehead it is still referred to in bushels.

The MP’s gas station is located in Carleton, 20 miles from Ottawa, and Mr. Gustafson said they already received $10,000 in donations which would be used in the event that the Liberal government takes them to court for breaking the law. One Winnipeg man who is opposed to the effects the metric switch would have on his lumber business contributed a $1,000 cheque, Mr. Gustafson said.


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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester is on where you can read the book’s first pages and/or purchase it.





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