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Our soulless government

Are we prepared to sacrifice our fish and water?

Are we prepared to sacrifice our fish and water?

What I predicted some years ago to then Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister John Van Dongen has come to pass – the environment, quite apart from global warming, has become an election issue – big time. When I spoke to this spiritually challenged minister in a spiritually challenged government – I’ll explain the phrase a little later – I was talking only about fish farming and this was before the sainted Alexandra Morton began her investigations into the death of hundreds of thousands of Pink and Chum salmon smolts from sea lice from fish farms. At the time of the interview with Mr. Van Dongen the big issue with fish farms was escaping Atlantic salmon getting into our rivers and disturbing the spawning redds and even beginning to establish themselves. That problem remains but the more serious question is the sea lice.

The Campbell government’s handling of this issue has been appalling. Ms Morton presented compelling evidence piled upon more compelling evidence and the government paid attention only to brush aside her findings and those of one fisheries biologist after another. Indeed the autocrat Campbell would simply say “all the science is on our side”. On it would go – scientific paper after scientific paper hammered the point home. Indeed as Professor John Volpe of the University of Victoria said, “the scientific arguments are over”. A legislative committee went around the province and confirmed the scientific findings. Then the “autocrat” appointed former federal fisheries minister and one time Speaker of the House of Commons, John Fraser, to head up a committee containing fish farm supporters and even they confirmed the evidence. While this was all going on, the Campbell government kept handing out more licenses and giving expanded licenses to existing farmers.

The arrogant “up yours” from the government has displayed a hubris which has become obvious to people who had never paid much attention to fisheries issues. It’s become such an issue that even the Campbell loving CanWest empire can no longer ignore it although they’re doing all they can to tamp it down.

Now we have the huge private power issue. The government and industry call it “run of river” which it is not. “Run of river” means that the flow of the river involved is not interfered with – like the “old mill stream” in song. These projects divert rivers for up to 20 KMs and do enormous permanent environmental harm. I’ve written and spoken a great deal about these issues but today I want to simply deal with the issue which should put paid to the entire matter.

I can easily demonstrate the li… sorry. “Terminological inexactitudes” of the government and industry when they make believe we have a great and pressing need for more power.

Let us assume, for sake of argument, that British Columbia, an exporter of power according to the National Energy Board, is indeed in need of power. The very last place you would go for help is to private water schemes for this excellent reason – they can only produce energy in any quantity during the Spring run-off when BC Hydro’s reservoirs are full to overflowing. It must be understood that you can’t “store electricity” other than small amounts in batteries so the term storage of power refers to how much water is available in the reservoir behind the dam for use to generate electricity. In short, the difficult time for a hydro electric scheme comes as the level of the supporting river(s) lowers, meaning that in the fall, winter and most of the spring

private power simply cannot be generated in any quantity to matter. To all intents and purposes, private power plants do not store water so the flows must he sufficient to turn the generators which in nearly all cases are confined to the run-off period.

This raises an interesting aside – private power companies in their water license can not allow the flow to drop below specified minimums. The incentive, of course, is to exceed those minimums and I wonder who will enforce this minimum? The same folks who enforce fish farm rules?

The conclusion is obvious – this government is prepared to maim our environment, kill off BC Hydro and the dividends it pays our provincial treasury, sending them instead to shareholders of the likes of General Electric, lose our sovereignty to NAFTA without adding anything to meet any BC needs! From this one can see the main point – If BC Hydro collapsed and all its dams broke, BC would not turn to private operators because they can’t provide power for most of the year.

I’m telling the story non stop around the province. As you read this I’m coming to the end of 8 speeches in 7 days first in the Sea-To- Sky region then in the Okanagan. But I tell another story too.

We’re not just dealing with money here. If we were we’d put an end to all this and dam the Fraser (which, when Alcan finally finishes off the Sockeye runs through the Nechako will be bruited about – bet on it). There is a much, much bigger issue here and it’s – I think the word fits – spiritual. These waters and the fish they contain don’t belong to Marine Harvest and their fish farms or to General Electric, empowered to do as they wish with our rivers. They don’t belong to the autocrat Campbell either. They belong to us, our children and grandchildren to generations unborn. We have in our piece of the earth is most beautiful and bountiful region. We’re known the world over for this. Our rivers and our salmon are what identify us. Jesus, speaking wisdom for everyone asked, “what profiteth a m”an if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?

What indeed?

This is what the Campbell government asks us to overlook – he doesn’t even have the decency to ask our forgiveness. The question is not do you fish? Or do you hunt? Or hike?

The question is, are you prepared to sacrifice that which not only identifies us to the world but more importantly to ourselves, by literally selling not just the fish and water but what they mean to our community, our society and to the spiritual values we’re taught as children, values that we try to pass on?

Is that corny? Old fashioned? Sloppy sentiment?

Perhaps. And if it is, we have just the government we deserve.

3 Responses to “Our soulless government”

  1. Joan Armstrong says:

    Right on!
    Come to hear a Centenary Lecture with Dr. David Suzuki on May 5th, 7:30pm in the Unitarian Church of Vancouver at 49th and Oak. The lecture is entitled “The Challenge of the 21st Century: Setting the Real Bottom Line”.
    Dr. Suzuki will talk of the opportunity provided by health, environment, and economic crisis to examine the roots of our social, ecological and economic problems. From this we can determine the real bottom line that must be defined by our fundamental biological, social and spiritual needs.
    Hope to see you there.

  2. Gina Goad says:

    I have lived in BC for over 8 years and NEVER in a million years would I have believed this was possible. Not until the last year that is since we moved to the north of BC to get away from the hypocrasies of the government. Here in the pristine wilderness (almost) we have come face to face with an even greater greed for the green – the oil and gas industries running the coffers of the BC government and Vancouver’s bid for the Olympics. Their lack of consideration for the residents with their ongoing flaring and invert infused soil dumping onto farmer’s land which gets pushed to the side as you view the two sides of this argument – the farmers who don’t care as long as they get their share of the green (likely after years of toiling with little to no revenues after NAFTA etc) and those who care enough to try and encourage greater environmental safety of the land, water and critter life. It is sooo sad that all of this info falls on deaf ears in the populated cities who do not suffer the consequences of acquiring power and gas for their houses but those living in the immediate vicinities are often small populations with little political pull or voice. I send prayers to the spiritual beings here to help us oversome man’s greed and ignorance so that we may all live in peace with prosperity that benefits all the planet’s occupants! Blessings to the ignorant – may they awake and arise to the challenges put before them.

  3. Capitalist Pig says:

    Rafe … I was wondering if you can start an online radio/audio broadcast from your web site… say like from approx. 9am – 2pm Monday to Friday?… I think it’d be a huge success… maybe Jimmy Pattison would be interested in sponsoring it?

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