Alberni Valley Times: Rafe Mair Speaks Out vs Coal Mine


From the Alberni Valley Times – Feb 21, 2011

by Heather Thomson

More than 300 people gathered at the high school to hear from outspoken radio personality Rafe Mair, and he didn’t disappoint.

The event kicked off with a video by Damien Gillis, who travels with
Mair in the Take Back Our B.C. tour. It focused on the battle being
waged in coastal communities in B.C. to fight the Enbridge pipeline.

Gillis said the idea behind their tour is to make sure people are informed.

“We decided to ramp things up to create this journal so we can reach as
many people as possible,” he said. “We want them to learn more about
the issues that are affecting their community.”

If you want more information about what Mair and Gillis are doing,
go to You can also check out the videos Gillis has
shot around the province.

From there the talk moved to a more local issue, the fight against opening a coal port in the Alberni Valley.

John Snyder, president of CoalWatch, asked the crowd to get involved.

your vision of the Comox Valley doesn’t include a coal mine and your
Alberni Valley vision doesn’t include a coal port, it’s time to get
involved,” he said. “With your help we can stop this ill-advised
project from happening.”

He said there are a lot of maybes involved in discussions, and maybe none of the things they worry about will come true.

“Maybe we’re all just worried about nothing,” he said. “But it’s not worth the risk.”

Coal Free Alberni’s Stacey Gaiga spoke next on the issue.

She said there hasn’t been a coal mine on Vancouver Island since the 1970s, so why start now?

said the clear message is that coal is “toxic for the community.” That
is why she encouraged people to voice their objections.

“The next public comment period is when you will have your say,” she said. “Please submit your concerns.”

added that the coal port is bad for the Valley because it will damage
the roads, harm the air quality, will mean dredging the Inlet and it
goes against the official community plan that encourages tourism-based
development on the waterfront.

“It’s important that you have your say,” she said.

Mair then took to the stage, immediately taking up the issue of a defunct provincial government.

government no longer has any control over what they do,” he said,
adding that the province is being run by corporations because they have
so much power over B.C.’s elected officials.

He offered the example of the falsehoods the finance minister gave on the subjects of privatization of rivers.

He said the government isn’t doing enough to save the rivers by offering public consultation.

“Not only do we have to have public involvement,” he said. “We have to have public consent.”

He said the problem is that the government isn’t being held accountable for their actions.

“There’s no criticism from the mainstream media,” he said. “We have to be our own media – circulate the message ourselves.”

He said sometimes it is frustrating fighting a battle that has no clear end.

you have to be patient and fight right to the end of the road,” he
said. “You never know you’ve won until you’ve won, so you have to keep

He offered the same words of encouragement when referring to the battle the Alberni Valley is waging against a coal port.

As for the government, he said it’s time to kick them out.

one wants to believe a government can be that stupid, but they are
because they don’t care,” he said. “We can win, we just have to join
hands for a hell of a fight that can save our beautiful province from
the government and corporation that is harming it.”

Gillis offered similar advice on the fight against the coal port. He
said it is possible to win the fight, but everyone will have to band
together to make it one the whole province cares about.

If you would like to know more about these issues go to

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About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.