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Ten things to know about the inner workings of your columnist’s operating system.

I write this column with the uneasy feeling that no one gives a damn, yet I think people who read a columnist have a right to know what makes the writer tick. Or belch for that matter — something I often do when digesting news from Victoria and Ottawa. And so here’s a handy user’s guide to Rafe Mair’s worldview:

1. Journalism. As the late Denny Boyd said, I’m not a journalist but (particularly in my radio days) have strived to be a cross-examiner. I see my mandate (self-imposed to be sure) as a prod who constantly holds the establishment’s feet to the fire.

I know from experience how spinmeisters work — they lie through their teeth. The media also lies like dogs but their method is to remain silent on things that adversely reflect on their good friends, the establishment. One need only look at the appalling media reportage on environmental issues.

True to form, the media love Christy Clark, Premier Photo Op. When she was threatening an early election, no one challenged Clark making families and children the main election issue. Never mind that this file has been mangled by the Campbell/Clark government for 11 years. Were Clark to have campaigned on families and children, she would have raised the wonderful word Chutzpah to new heights. The reason the spin doctors have encouraged making this the centrepiece of an election is because all the other potential issues are even worse for the government. But corporate media pretty much gave her a pass.

2. Who to believe. I don’t believe a word government or the business community says. Not a word of it. They only tell the truth by accident, much like a stopped clock is right twice a day. Whether they are in the business of mining or drilling for oil or extracting some other form of wealth from our precious ecology, profit-driven corporations simply mouth whichever falsehoods people might be induced to believe. I don’t believe politicians, especially when they tell me that what they’re doing is in my best interests.

3. Why I was a Socred. I’m often accused of vacating the principles I espoused as a Socred minister back in the 1970s. This is partly true since I didn’t leave my brain behind when I left government for radio. Essentially, however, I still believe in free enterprise, but a market that is properly policed and includes just taxes.

I am still an environmental activist. As a Socred environment minister I saved the Skagit from being dammed by the city of Seattle, ended the wolf kill and put a moratorium on production of uranium.

I must also say that I made errors, many of them, but my philosophy, if not evident in all my actions, was essentially as it is now. As to any change in philosophy I plead Emerson, who said “foolish consistency is the hob-goblin of little minds”.

4. Where my first allegiances lie. I was born, raised and educated in Vancouver. I represented Kamloops in the Legislature. I am a British Columbian first and foremost. When I was the B.C. spokesperson on constitutional matters I was told that once I spent some time in central Canada I would learn that they really cared for British Columbia. I found nothing of the sort and my suspicions of their utter indifference to B.C. were brutally confirmed. I would not take to the streets on this issue but if B.C. went its own way I would shed not a tear.

This commitment to British Columbia causes me to cry out against the BC Liberal government’s horrible energy plan that desecrates our rivers while making private producers rich and forcing BC Hydro into a calamitous economic state. In the same vein of wanting to protect the precious natural heritage of this province, I take every opportunity to declare that oil pipelines and oil tankers pose not risks but certain disasters, and if we allow either in B.C. we deserve the catastrophes that are bound to happen.

5. My favourite medium. I love books and am a modern day Luddite when it comes to ebooks. I regularly canvass the big stores and order what I want from the independent 32 Books in Edgemount Village. I hate cell phones and mine is in the glove compartment of my car only to be used in an emergency. I have no idea what my cell phone number is because I am not interested in hearing phone calls which aren’t to my home/office.

6. My diagnosis of what ails our democracy. I am for democracy — of which we have precious little given the way we go about it. In our system, 40 per cent of the 50 per cent who voted are given 100 per cent of the power for four or five years. MLAs and MPs are toothless and must do as they are told. Large identifiable groups in our system are not only powerless but without any parliamentary or legislature voice. Every day I lean towards proportional representation or a version of it.

7. My critique of our current justice system. I believe that sex criminals should not be jailed but treated, not to be released until psychiatrists certify that he is no more likely to offend than the average citizen. As we do it now, these menaces are jailed and let out of prison not because they have been cured but because time has passed. That’s very wrong yet somehow we believe that detaining until cured is “mollycoddling.”

I believe in a massive reformation of the court system so that ordinary people can have the same access that the rich do.

I also profoundly believe in the presumption of innocence, the basis of our justice system for 1,000 years. At this point I especially believe in the presumption of innocence for drivers suspected of impaired driving. Instead, we now make the cop not only the arresting officer but decider of charges to be laid, prosecutor, judge and the guy who decides what the penalty will be. If we will make an exception to the presumption in one case, what next? The reason it hasn’t been tested in court is, interestingly, because the driver has no right to go to court!

8. My position on how much free expression should be allowed. I profoundly believe in free speech, even (perhaps I should say especially) the rude versions.

9. My measure of a good society. I believe that the state must ensure that every Canadian is fed and housed and I also support some examples of “affirmative action.” These things are opposed by the wealthy class but let me give you my reasons.

I believe that a caring society is judged, and rightly so, by the compassion it shows to the poor. Even those who think “too bad for the poor” must surely feel for children who, through no fault of their own, face daunting challenges to making for themselves a decent life. Many wealthy people I know say ‘if I could do it, so can they,’ which ignores two things: Not everyone is blessed with the wherewithal to ‘make it’ and not everyone is as lucky as the rich usually are.

I support affirmative action to help those who have been handicapped by their upbringing. I had huge affirmative action based on whom I was born to, their “social class,” and their ability to see I had the very best education and their ability to provide me with a safety net if I were fall on sorry times.

I get myself in a lather about cheating but when I do, I’m not looking at single moms on welfare but rather the rich. With the help of lawyers and accountants, the rich pay far less tax in proportion to their wealth than the less well-off. Let me give you an anecdote to demonstrate. In the U.S., a whistle blower who turns in a tax dodger gets 10 per cent of the tax collected with this proviso — that pay-off is limited to $10,000,000! In other words there are taxation thieves stealing over $100,000,000. You can forgive a hell of a lot of welfare cheaters for that kind of money!

As you may deduce, then, I have that quaint notion that the rich, individual or corporate, should pay their share of taxes.

10. When enough is enough. Finally, I believe that it’s time for me to shut up!

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