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Dear Mr. Dix: A Letter From Rafe Mair to BC’s Future Premier

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Posted June 20, 2012 by Rafe Mair in Politics
Rafe Mair interviewed Adrian Dix earlier this year on his party's positions on the environment and resources in BC

Dear Adrian Dix,
 
The recent polls show that you and your party have a wide lead over the Liberals and Conservatives – something which gives many of us who care deeply about the environment encouragement, including thousands of us who are not usually supportive of the NDP. It is those people whom I have in mind today.
 
The political spectrum has altered substantially in recent years with a wide gap in centre, which your party is clearly occupying. To do this with success you must address concerns about the nineties when the NDP was in office. Apart from the fact – a big one – that the NDP had, ahem, leadership problems, in fact the NDP had a much better track record in fiscal matters than painted by the “right”, especially when one considers the sudden trauma of the “Asian ‘flu”, which all but ground our forest sector to a halt.
 
The Campbell/Clark Government has, with some success, painted the NDP as a government that bankrupted the province.
 
I believe that you should deal with those issues – though not at length, because voters want to know what you will do, not what you have done. The fact is, however, that the Liberals will present themselves as steady stewards of the public purse, which they clearly are not, and in my view you must be able to match allegations with facts.
 
Before I get to the environment, one other issue. When we sit around the fire relaxing with a toddy, we often muse that it would be wonderful if the federal and BC governments could just get along. The fact is that we are a federated state which sets out – not always with clarity – the powers, rights and obligations of each government. The system is built on tension, not ass-kicking, and the Premier and her party ought to know this.
 
Premier Clark is presently dealing with the Kitsilano Coast Guard issue with kid gloves. That may be a good policy in issues like this but in the larger sense, the people of BC, I believe, want the provincial government to stand up boldly to the Ottawa bully, especially in these days where the Harper government wishes to devastate BC’s environment.
 
This segues neatly into the environment issue. This issue does not lend itself to compromise. One of the “weasel” words from the developer is “mitigation”. You either protect the environment or you don’t, and three obvious issues come to mind: fish farms, private power and the pipeline/tanker debate.
 
On the first, you simply must force them to go on land. I believe it was a mistake to turn that power over to the Feds but that’s been done and we must deal with what we have. I suggest a protocol which requires farms to move on shore within a reasonable time or their licenses will not be renewed. The fish farmers have all denied they do to harm the environment for over a decade and they must be brought to heel. You cannot simply pawn the issue off to Fisheries and Oceans Canada – the people expect you to act.
 
Your position on private power (IPPs) is more than a bit hazy. You seem to be opposed to them but will, after you make the contracts public, still honour the contracts. I realize this is a tricky issue because if you go further, you will be painted as anti-business. Can you not declare that any licenses granted but not acted upon will be taken away? On other proposals, and I especially refer to the Klinaklini, surely you must say to them, “Proceed at your peril”.
 
And, of course, you must revive the British Columbia Utilities Commission – with teeth, as in days of yore.
 
This leads to BC Hydro which, if in the private sector, would be in bankruptcy protection. Much of that unhappy situation results from the IPPs from whom BC Hydro was forced to buy electricity at hugely inflated prices. Hydro has some $40 BILLION dollars in future payments for power it does not need. How can an NDP government deal with this without taking action on these contracts? Isn’t this analogous to the mayor elected on a reform ticket still honouring sweetheart deals between the former mayor and his brother-in-law? These IPP contracts are scandalous payments to the government and its political pals and cannot be protected by “sanctity of contract”
 
Your position on pipelines and tanker traffic is, in my view, pretty solid but must be restated at regular times. I understand that you have postponed your decision on the Kinder-Morgan line until you see what their new proposal is. That probably made sense in the Chilliwack by-election but otherwise makes no sense at all. It is a time bomb now – how can that situation be improved by increasing the line’s capacity?
 
The 2013 election will largely be fought on environmental issues – for the first time in my long life.

You must walk the tightrope of support of our environment and the rightwing allegations that you are anti-business. You must expect that, well before the election, the federal government, with a sweetly smiling Premier Clark, will announce big contributions to the province so that we, too, can get rich out of the Tar Sands and be prepared for that. The answer is like the joke where a man asks a woman to go to bed with him for $50,000. She muses about her obligations to her kids, etc. and blushingly agrees. The man then asks if she will go to bed with him for $50 to which the indignant woman exclaims, “What do you take me for, a common prostitute?” to which the man replies, “We’ve already established that, madam; now we’re dickering over the price.”
 
The lesson is our province is not for sale at any price.
 
Sincerely,
 
Rafe Mair


About the Author

Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe continues to make regular appearances on radio and television, writes regularly for thetyee.ca, and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

9 Comments


  1.  
    SUSAN EYRE

    In response to the controlled media – we could upset the cart by not buying the media – newspapers are especially easy to starve out – they thrive on selling. There are enough of ‘US’ that boycotting the censored media would send the message. Break the habit of buying the censoring media. We could also monetarily support the truthful media – like Rafe and Damien. Supplying a truthful newspaper for those who must hold something could be accomplished through paying the excellent independent journalists by combining the Council of Canadians, the Ceasefire, Provincial Report, all the small publications struggling to survive etc., into a newspaper could give us so much worthy news, providing funding, and save trees. Couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!




  2.  
    SUSAN EYRE

    Thank you Rafe for this letter to Adrian Dix and the report on the Kiniklini IPP proposal. B..C-rs must create the new priorities – Dix would do well to address the back issues -let’s lay the groundwork now. B.C doesn’t need anymore mega electrical power projects at all. Sewage management which now uses electricity among other costly infrastructure to dispose of the sewage generated, needs to turn the city sewage into electrical generation. The Olympic village illustrated how well and how local the system works – creating more electricity than needed as well as hot water and a viable soil supplement.This is the desirable and efficient course of all cities futures. All that Hydro $40 billion should be spent on sewage power generation,but we need the leadership to attain that goal. Imagine if all cities were responsible for providing its’ own energy requirements, without pillaging the countryside. Efficient energy use would be the given. City dwellers turn off those nighttime lights, give the few unflooded valleys and all the fish and animals that inhabit them, the ability to flourish and supply the earth with nutrients that they so unselfishly contribute to the earths’ well-being .




  3.  
    SUSAN EYRE

    Thank you Rafe for this letter to Adrian Dix and the report on the Kiniklini IPP proposal. B..C-rs must create the new priorities – Dix would do well to address the back issues -let’s lay the groundwork now. B.C doesn’t need anymore mega electrical power projects at all. Sewage management which now uses electricity among other costly infrastructure to dispose of the sewage generated, needs to turn the city sewage into electrical generation. The Olympic village illustrated how well and how local the system works – creating more electricity than needed as well as hot water and a viable soil supplement.This is the desirable and efficient course of all cities futures. All that Hydro $40 billion should be spent on sewage power generation,but we need the leadership to attain that goal. Imagine if all cities were responsible for providing its’ own energy requirements, without pillaging the countryside. Efficient energy use would be the given. City dwellers turn off those nighttime lights, give the few unflooded valleys and all the fish and animals that inhabit them, the ability to flourish and supply the earth with nutrients that they so unselfishly contribute to the earths’ well-being .




  4.  
    puddock

    I hope and pray that the NDP has learned it’s lessons well after their last debacle in power. If not, I fear all that will happen will be another super swing to the right, allowing the now well an truly entrenched almost new Thatcherite/Cheney Conservatives to gain power 2017-ish.
    which does not bode well for BC in the long term.




  5.  
    Thomas A. McDowell

    I am a “Tommy Douglas, Dave Barrett” socialist and never thought I would ever agree with Rafe Mair on anything but his fierce defense of B.C. wild salmon. However his exposure of the results of “green?” run of river power, and it’s cost to the tax payers of B.C. is right on target. I applaud Mr. Mair and urge you to continue the good fight.
    Tom McDowell




  6.  
    William (Bill) Edwards

    It perplexes me to try and understand how we as a people of common sense can allow ‘the goins on’ to be so brashly influenced by outsiders; whom have a tendency to think that we as British Columbians cannot think for ourselves.
    They seem to think that we have to be told what to do.
    And if we do capitulate and follow the yellow brick road:
    we end up in these huge contravercies that are always on the verge of a last minute disaster. Why? Because the current and last govt. didn’t, and does not release most pertinent information that it hides from the public, until it is ready to RAM it through to Legislation. (EG Super port expansion in Delta and all it’s implications, with no timeline for local infrastructure that now has to catch up at great cost, and ALRT considerations). Let’s wake up and pay closer attention to OUR needs. Keep close watch on the feds and what they are really up to with their influence over the unguided locals whom are trying to catch up in the repair of misdemeanors created by their former architect whom is wining and dining at the Olympics in London. Thanks Rafe




  7.  
    e.a.foster

    Dix can make his positions as clear as any one would want but the msmedia is not going to cover it. To convey the NDP message would require taking out ads. This requires money. The NDP is most likely saving their financial resources until election time.

    I am sure individuals could take up the “vacumn” & run ads stating the full details but many people just don’t know how.

    Its as simply as, glen clark left money in the bank when he left office. The leiberals have run the biggest deficiet in B.C. history.

    The run of the river projects & B.C. Hydro story just stinks on ice. We don’t see the msmedia covering this. The sad truth is most people get their news from t.v. & the t.v. stations are not NDP supporters. We have only to look at Baldry. Jas is much better of course.

    The media is only interested in those “led if it bleeds” items which restricts them to the drs & community living. They don’t deal with the issues which got us to those points.

    What makes me sick is B.C. has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, 8 yrs. running. I wil never understand how the lieberals can permit children to go hungry & inadequately housed & clothed.




  8.  
    connie Wallace

    Dear Rafe, I have never voted NDP before but I think I will this time as it is getting to be beyond a joke. I have voted Green for quite a while as a protest but it is time to change.

    Connie Wallace




  9.  
    Reinhard Rudersdorfer

    Dear Rafe: AS always you make many good points, that shows that you still are a very savey politition. However I hope that todays public is smart enough to go forward with a group of individuals bound together by simular ideals rather then the self-interest of the so-called Liberals and the so-called conservatives who are only interested in lining their and their friends pockets and keep the so called Elite in Power. It’s time for a politial evolution. B.C., with its diversity, can show the way to all of the world. This is our time to shine. Stick with it Adrian Dix. WhHen you have Rafe on your sight you will succeed. All the Best to the NDP in 2013and beon.





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