Created on Friday, 30 December 2011 15:39
Written by Rafe Mair
Reflections on Common Sense Canadian and Why 2012 is a Make or Break Year for BC
It’s customary at this time of the year too look back, comment, and look to the New Year. Why should The Common Sense Canadian (CSC) be any different?
been going for about a year and a half so my comments may take us a
little earlier than last January but let me start by saying that both
Damien Gillis and I are pretty proud of our progress.
us believes in some commonwealth of environmental people and groups.
That’s not practical as we all have issues we feel more strongly about
than others. We do, however, like to feel that we can bring a vehicle
into being that helps all environmentalists and groups find a place to
air their feelings. As one would expect, the particular passions of
Damien and me will stand out in the work we do but we also support many
other groups. Because of the history we bring to the CSC, we tend to
look most in four areas, in no particular order: fish farms, private
power, pipelines and oil tankers – the latter two being bound together
but still two separate issues; but you can’t have one without the other.
we’ve seen happen in the past year or so is a sense of all
environmentalists feeling part of the same general battle – and battle
Let me expand on that last thought a bit. All of us,
whether trying to save forests, or a river, or a coastline or whatever
are met with the cry “aren’t they in favour of anything?” If they’re not
hugging trees they’re against jobs for the young and prosperity for
communities. These and similar questions have been raised since the
first day someone declared that there were other issues than just
monetary ones. To show you how ridiculous this gets, supporters of the
proposed "Prosperity" Mine allege that this mine will give employment to
71,000 people! Why not 710,000 if you’re going to be ridiculous?
we try to do is challenge people to make a value judgment on what is
done and place the environmental issues securely on the table. The main
reason we do that is that damage to the environment is permanent while
the economics diminish as time goes by, leaving only the scars.
look at a so-called “run-of-river” project. We’re told that these are
necessary to create jobs yet when the deed is done there are only a bare
handful of caretakers left behind while the river, and the ecology that
depend upon it, are permanently and seriously impaired.
are democrats. If the public, fully informed, wish to create permanent
environmental damage, that is their right. What happens, however, is
that the public, if they are informed at all, only see the glitzy ads by
the company and the smooth assurances of the politicians.
hearings are, frankly, bullshit. The decision has been made and, like a
trial in the old Soviet Union, a “show” trial must take place.
me give you a recent example: when President Obama refused to authorize
the Keystone XL project which would take “gunk” from the Tar Sands to
Texas, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty instantly responded and
said that we would have to put the proposed Enbridge pipeline from the
Tar Sands to Kitimat, BC, on “the front burner”! Before the National
Energy Board hearings even get off the ground the Finance Minister is
assuming the result! Yet, he’s right to do so because the “fix” is well
and truly in.
This takes me to the meat of the matter for, in
the past couple of years there has been an astonishing cooperation of
environmental organizations to fight these things together.
been all around the province making speeches and often the stage has
been shared with COPE union spokespersons, the Wilderness Committee,
Alexandra Morton and her Raincoast Research Society, the redoubtable
Donna Passmore and her work on highways and farmland issues, CoalWatch
Comox Valley regarding the proposed Raven coal mine, citizen groups
fighting local issues like overhead transmission lines and numerous
grassroots organizations in the Kootenays in Northern BC, on the
Sunshine Coast - and the list goes on.
Of enormous consequence
has been the work all the different environmental groups have done with
First Nations on the issues I have mentioned. One of the most touching
moments in my Roast of November 24 last were the speeches given by Grand
Chief Stewart Philip, Chief Bob Chamberlin and Chief Marilyn Baptiste;
and I tell you truly that I wept when they spoke and sang and considered
how far down the road to true understanding of their concerns I had
come – something, I might add, Chief Philip commented upon with a
twinkle in his eye to match my tears.
Let me pause here to note
that I have left out many people and organizations that have every right
to stand out in front as those I have mentioned and I deeply hope that I
haven’t offended any of them.
Let me speak out clearly on
political matters. The Campbell/Clark government are enemies of the
public at large. The destruction they have caused, and which will happen
because of their policies, beggars description. Not unnaturally, the
NDP have been the beneficiaries, often accidentally, from this public
disgust with the government. I can tell you that at my “Roast” were
people I knew from my old Socred days – people who a year ago would have
preferred to be found in a house of ill repute than be seen with the
CSC helping us in our fundraiser.
I must say this: the NDP gets
no easy ride from us. It’s simple to jump on a bandwagon but we demand
commitments from them – not airy, fairy crap that passes for commitment
in political jargon.
I’m going to end now with this look ahead. 2012 will be the year that decides where we go in BC.
we have more rivers destroyed for private profit? Will we see our
province, my homeland and yours, turned over to the 100% certain
destruction by pipelines? And to the 100% certainty of catastrophic oil
spills on our coast and in Burrard Inlet? Will we continue to allow fish
farmers to annihilate our sacred Pacific Salmon? Will we watch idly as
Fish Lake is destroyed to set the precedent of more of the same?
we do nothing as we lose more and more farmland? Will money promised
and jobs pledged suck the wind out of our ability to see what’s really
happening to us, our children, our grandchildren and for some of us
That is the advantage, you see, of old age –
right before your eyes are the people we hold BC in trust for. The
wisdom of the ages, in the soul of our First Nations, is the wisdom we
must listen to and apply if we want to save our province from those who
would convert it into cash for private use, leaving us with nothing but
the scars to remind us what damned fools we’ve been.
Sense Canadian will be in this fight in 2012 and in the years to come
and, along with those we march alongside, do not intend to lose the
battles nor the war.
Rafe Mair was a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, Minister of Environment from late
1978 through 1979. Since 1981 he has been a radio talk show host, and
is recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists.