The Silence of the Mainstream Media on Private Power, Fish Farms


I sat in my hotel room in London on a recent vacation, reading the comments on my last article in in which I had congratulated the Vancouver Sun for printing an op-ed piece by Dr. Marvin Shaffer of SFU which stated the elementary truth that the government is forcing BC Hydro to pay more for private power than they can make it for themselves or sell it for. The general consensus seemed to be that I’d gone soft in the head and that we need not assume that Postmedia would suddenly be printing the truth on this subject.
I then looked at the reaction to a similar article I wrote on this website and thought – there having been no response from any of the media I had critiqued – that the critics were right that I was naïve to suppose that any of the columnists, reporters or Postmedia editors gave a damn, and that I was terminally naïve to think that the Sun or Province would publish any more op-ed pieces criticizing the Clark government on any matters which could hurt their chances in the snap election Ms Clark seems determined to call.
Thus I think, on reflection, that they are right. This is not going to happen. We will not be seeing analytic articles by Vaughn Palmer or Mike Smyth; nor, lamentably from Stephen Hume. They won’t be writing anything terribly troublesome for fish farmers even though their flacks and apologists seem to have little difficulty getting op-ed pieces and even news stories printed. I see no indication that the government bankrupting BC Hydro has caught their eye – or if it has, that they would have the editorial freedom to write about it.
Some time back I suggested that these and other writers self-censored for the simple reason that they otherwise won’t be printed. The editor of one of these papers phoned me whining that I had been unfair and asked if I really thought he told his writers what to write?
When he denied that he did this I asked why, then, they never had explored the questions I and others had raised on these matters. He replied that what they wrote about was their affair. I can’t prove what I say but only point out that most editors I have worked for and work for now have suggested a topic that seems important. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.
I might add that when papers and radio stations didn’t like the opinions I wrote on or spoke about, I got fired – often, I might add.
Perhaps I should take that editor at his word. Could it just be that they haven’t considered the rape of the fish farms and the ruin of our rivers and the accompanying bankruptcy of BC Hydro as real issues affecting the public interest?
But I can’t do that for it would be accusing Postmedia and their writers of being stupid and I know that they aren’t. In fact, quite to the contrary they are highly intelligent and excellent writers.
I owe them one more chance to respond. Thus I then ask Mike Smyth, Vaughn Palmer and other writers why, over the past several years, they have not written about the fish farm issue? ALL the independent scientists have excoriated the industry and the issues, yet the closest Postmedia (Canwest in drag) has printed are the fish farmers’ formal flack and the utterly discredited environmental turncoat Patrick Moore.
UBC’s Dr. Daniel Pauly, one of the world’s acknowledged top marine scientists has said that the scientific debate is over on the sea lice question, yet the fish farmer flack seems to get space on demand with nary a dissenting word,
I then ask why haven’t Mr. Palmer or Mr. Smyth – or any other Postmedia columnist – examined the BC Hydro scandal? Never mind the gross environmental degradation caused by private power dams (they prefer to call them “weirs”, in their Orwellian  “New Speak”) and the wreckage of clear cuts for roads and transmission lines; leave aside for a moment the fish they kill and the habitat they destroy. Simply answer this: why haven’t you written on the issue that Dr. Shaffer and other academics and economists have raised – namely that this government in Victoria has forced BC Hydro into contracts with large corporations under which each transaction hits Hydro with a huge loss?
Never mind that the entire Energy Policy is based on utter falsehoods; leave aside the Orwellian claim that private power is “clean and green” – simply address the points made by Dr. Shaffer which fortify those of his colleague Dr. John Calvert in his formidable account of the whole situation, the book Liquid Gold.
Surely any fiscal theory that you can “buy high and sell low” and still make money bears some examination. The “Fast Ferries” issue of the NDP days, which Mr. Palmer so bravely and thoroughly exposed pales into insignificance when compared to the Campbell cum Clark Energy Policy.
Erik Andersen, a highly regarded economist specializing in government financing, makes the obvious point that BC Hydro would go broke under the Liberal Policy were it not for the fact that they can pass their losses onto the poor ratepayers (that’s us folks. In fact we get it twice, once at home, then as a cost pass through from the industry whose power we subsidize more and more).
A modest request to Mr. Palmer, Mr. Smyth et al.: prove that I’m wrong to suggest you self-censor. Do it with some of the incisive journalism, take-no-prisoners investigations for which you have great reputations, centred this time on the fish farms and the BC Hydro issues. Failing that, surely you owe an explanation why you won’t!
I can assure you both that I would rather be proved wrong and see you bring your talents to bear examining these issues carefully…than right.
Somehow, though, I think I’m right and that freedom of speech is something you are prepared to compromise for personal security.


About 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 is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at

10 thoughts on “The Silence of the Mainstream Media on Private Power, Fish Farms

  1. it has always amazed me that our stupid government back in the late eigthies allowed the fishfarm industry
    to bring in atlantic salmon and their main reason was you can pack 30 kg biomass per qubic meter of water
    which is all about profit at the same time its three times
    the amount of pacific species.just the same as corporate
    pigfarms pack in as many as you can,and feed them lots of antibiothics to keep them healthy,all garbage.

  2. The media is a disgrace to their professions. They are nothing other than, a propaganda machine for the BC Liberal government. However, it seems everything has a price, even honesty and pride for good journalism. Bias against the citizens, is commonplace for all the types of media.

    I canceled my newspapers. It makes me sick to the stomach to watch the news on TV. So I don’t bother anymore. For those of the media, who sell their souls. What use are they? None that I can see, when they don’t tell the whole truth, for both sides.

  3. First, the MSM is lazy, they prefer to print what they are handed. To do anything else would be to actually WORK. Human nature.
    Second, they’d actually have to get it RIGHT, or be sued. MORE WORK !
    Thirdly, to address a couple of comments above: To assume that natives are somehow deemed by a higher power to be “keepers of the land” is absolute hogwash. People are people, they will go with what is in their best interests. Given the opportunity, they will also “negotiate” and coerce government, taxpayers and industry into MORE for themselves. It’s human nature.

  4. Rafe …thanking you for your wonderful firebrand journalism inasmuch you are a rare breed of firebrand that is willing to put “everything on the line” in raising peoples social consciousness. Maybe too cliche in myopic way of thinking, however ,I have always enoyed your views because it makes me think outside of the box when discovering the simple facts and deductions in my ever growing appetite for the truth!.

  5. The mainstream media is no longer independent. The Boards, Editors and Managers are controlled by special interest groups who are given free reign to perpetrate myths that projects such as “run of the rivers power”, “fish farms”, “smart meters” “port expansions” and “transportation boondoggles on farmland and environmentally-sensitive areas” are needed for our economy. Nothing can be further from the truth. These special interest groups are making millions at the taxpayers’ expense. We will be paying for these projects for the next 30 to 50 years. Habitat will be lost forever. Why do we, the people, have lots to say about the Vancouver riot but remain silent about the pillage of our environment, our resources, and our tax dollars by special interest groups? Shame on journalists for not banning together and speaking out against oppression in the media. You are responsible for the erosion of democracy. Where has the sense of journalistic ethics gone? Thanks for the comment from the honest journalist in this list of comments. Come on, Michael Smyth, Vaughan Palmer, Stephen Hume and your colleagues. Stop being the leading puppets of this horrible control of the media.

  6. I read this with understanding because I myself have been censored by my editor a number of times. In fact I kept an email sent to me by my editor telling me to either change the subject of my piece or edit it severly. Why? Because if my piece was published they would lose advertising. So yes, I self censored because I wanted to continue in my job. I still feel dirty having done it, yet again, because it wasn’t the first time my reports had been challenged, I had removed some content and watered. It down so as not to make things uncomfortable for the powers that be but i had never been told it would not printed, period because the content was a subject the publisher and editor considered to be unfriendly and would cause retribution against the paper. I’m not as brave as you are and I capitulated. “Established” reporters and columnists feel the same heat and they have a pretty nice gig doing what they do. Most journalists I know have percarious careers and if you have established a niche that nicely pays the bills, you get invited to great parties, rubbing elbows with the rich and famous it’s hard to give that up. You’re right and I’ve learned established media is not free.

  7. I am very disappointed with the First Nations people. They want our support, and then sign in favor of the fish farms. What a terrible let down.

    We are supporting them, on the Enbridge pipeline and the dirty Chinese and American tankers, coming into our beautiful northern coast. Will the First Nations people, sign in favor of that too?

    We also support them, regarding toxic mine waste, dumped into Fish Lake.

    I have sent messages along to others, asking them to support the First Nations people. I have signed different petitions for them. I have spent hours on my computer, getting their message out there.

    The stewards of the lands, wild kingdom of animals, lakes, fish, birds, rivers, and streams, can be had for a price. I will do no more for them.

  8. It’s a sad commentary isn’t it? sigh … this seems to be the way it is these days.
    Because writers are controlled by big. corps. that own the media, I no longer read daily papers nor watch daily news on mainstream tv. Far more truthful news can be found on utube, or other media, all on the internet. Guess all I can say is keep on keepin’ on … one day the majority will wake up – at least let’s hope they do!

  9. I would say you are bang on Rafe and now we have three Indian bands in the Campbell River area sighning agreements with Marine Harvest(biggest fishfarmer in B.C.)…It must be nice to be able to buy the keepers of the land

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