We are reading a lot about “hearings” these days, especially as they relate to private rivers and pipelines/tanker traffic.
And, on the surface, what could be fairer than let the public in on the decision making process?
I have indeed spoken of these things before.
The hearings are a fraud, plain and simple, for the public is denied the opportunity to make their views known on the wisdom of the project. The last hearings that meant anything were the BC Utilities Commission hearings about three years ago which reported back that the private rivers policy was “not in the public interest.”
The Campbell government immediately defanged the Commission, for embarrassing findings were not a good idea as far as the government was concerned.
There’s much to be said for technical hearings into environmental matters.
As long as the decision to hold them comes after the public has had a chance to air its opinions.
British Columbians had that right through the Regional District until 2008 when the Squamish Lillooet Regional District vetoed the plan to dam the Ashlu River. The Campbell government immediately took the power to evaluate away from the Regional Districts.
Ashlu is a cautionary tale, for everything the public and experts said about this proposed venture came true. It is an environmental nightmare with thousands of fish blocked from passage by the dam – so delicately referred to as the “weir” by the company.
I have been to a number of joint federal/provincial hearings and, as I have said before, I’d rather have a root canal without novocaine than attend another. The chair and the company representative are joined at the hip even demonstrably socializing before and after the “hearing”. The desirability of the project is off limits for the great unwashed, not so for the company spokesperson who can sing the project’s praises as much as he likes.
Now, let’s go to the root of the matter. Unless you live in an NDP riding. no one is raising questions on your behalf.
Isn’t it remarkable that with a project getting more and more opposed by the public, not one provincial Liberal MLA nor any federal Tory MP will utter a peep about the wisdom of the pipelines and tanker traffic proposed? When they do mention it, like my Conservative MP John Weston, they demonstrate an utter lack of understanding of what is proposed. Think on that – not one single government MLA or MP has demanded hearings into the wisdom of the project before it moves to the environmental assessment stage.
It’s worse, actually, for the Prime Minister has made it plain that no matter what the joint hearings into the pipelines and tankers recommend, the projects will go ahead.
Thus is the state of democracy in this province.