Mainstream Media Blind to Real Environmental Issues


Why is it that the mainstream media ignore the down and dirty part of the environment?
Yes, they do stuff on global warming and it’s good that they do but when it comes to local issues, apart from where Vancouver sends its garbage, they’re nowhere to be found.
Consider the fish farm issue. This from an earlier blog on this site:

The 2003 memo – recently made public via the Cohen Commission on collapsing Fraser sockeye stocks – contains some truly shocking passages for their candour and for how clearly they vindicate those who have been critical of DFO’s salmon farm science. Written by a respected DFO scientist, Dr. Brent Hargreaves, the memo severely attacks the credibility of a colleague, key salmon farm apologist Dr. Dick Beamish, whose science Hargreaves labels as “shoddy” and “unethical”, among other pejoratives. Here are a couple of choice passages:

“The research on sea lice that has been conducted by Beamish has been strongly and widely criticized in both the scientific community and the public media…I think to a large degree it was the inadequacies of Beamish’s research and conclusions that led to the lack of public confidence in DFO science…

…I also do not want to be directly associated, either professionally or personally, with either Beamish or his research…He always does exactly as he pleases, regardless of the (often negative) impacts on DFO staff and research programs.”

My question – why did Postmedia (Canwest in drag) have no space for this story? After all, the Campbell government based its entire disastrous policy on fish farms on Beamish’s rubbish!
The facts on the Campbell/Clark energy policy are no longer in dispute. These environmental catastrophes, built and operated by big private sector companies, produce power that BC Hydro is forced to take but for the most part can’t use and must either sell at a huge loss or use it instead of the must cheaper power they can produce themselves. BC Hydro would be, if in the private sector, in bankruptcy protection or even bankruptcy itself. Anyone who tries to balance the household budget understands this; so does the Clark government as did Campbell before but they’re too scared to admit it. Premier Clark hopes that it will go away but I can assure her that it won’t!
This is not a story requiring Postmedia coverage?
The Rupert Murdoch/News of the World scandal should make us all question our newspapers, especially Postmedia and the David Black papers. I don’t for a moment believe that either of these groups is hacking into private computers. I assure you that this is not my issue here. What the scandal does is alert us to the probably deliberate lack of coverage of environmental catastrophes, thus raising the clear question, WHY?
As the story goes, when a man gives his wife flowers for no reason, there’s a reason. And there’s a reason here.
I freely admit my bias – I don’t like the Postmedia papers and didn’t like them when they were Canwest or Pacific Press and before. But I tell you that there’s no malice here – just decades of demanding that they report what’s happening in our province fairly as news and critically as editors. I’m a lifetime British Columbian – damned near an octogenarian – so this goes back a long, long time.
There have been good years such as when the late Marjorie Nichols, the late Jack Wasserman, Allan Fotheringham, Jim Hume held the government’s feet to the fire – especially the government that I was in. In doing that, they were true journalists and we all, government and the public, were better informed, thus better for it. 
Today’s columnists know that if they get down and dirty on some subjects they don’t get printed. This isn’t some idle comment – I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t have grounds to. And I understand that these folks have families to raise, mortgages to pay and kids to educate. I learned about this myself as I saw what happened to broadcasters if the clientele that feed their station doesn’t like what’s being said about them. In my opinion, that’s why columnists were fearless and stubborn about attacking the NDP (which they were right to do) – there were no major advertisers angry at a pillorying of the hated “socialists”.
Today, if one wants to see the present government held to account one reads the Globe and Mail (I never thought I’d live long enough to have that coming from my pen!)
The Globe and Mail is still pretty tepid in its role as critic but I see their BC section with Mark Hume, Gary Mason, Justine Hunter and others delving into subjects – not with the thoroughness that, say, Vaughn Palmer with the NDP fast Ferry program – but they at least open the subject to daylight where Postmedia fears to tread.
I don’t flatter myself by thinking that Postmedia and Black won’t cover anything I’m on – that may be coincidence even though the coincidences are many. However I am reminded of the story of the courtroom in the Southern US where smoking was permitted. The lawyer for the plaintiff continually puffed on a cigar even though the judge asked him several times, politely, to desist.
At the end of the case the judge found for the defendant whereupon the lawyer for the plaintiff complained that the judge shouldn’t have decided for the other side just because he, the plaintiff’s lawyer smoked a cigar.
The judged replied, “counsellor, that’s not why I decided against you”.
“Well, Your Honour,” said the losing lawyer, “that’s a better reason than any you gave in your reasons for judgement!” 
The Vancouver Sun bleats that it is “Seriously Westcoast”, which is classic George Orwell’s “Newspeak” and has all the credibility of an ad singing the praises of cigarette smoking.
The public has two options as I see it  – read the Sun because of Rex Morgan MD and the Province for Luann and get critical examination of issues from blogs they trust. There’s a danger, of course, that this leads to only getting information that supports your views but in working through the papers searching for the comics and sports pages one can’t help reading the government line if only by osmosis.
As we say with the Common Sense Canadian (, we must fill the content gap of the mainstream press by being our own media.


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

17 thoughts on “Mainstream Media Blind to Real Environmental Issues

  1. I think it’s funny how all the pro-gov. non-enviro people don’t give a crap about their own grand kids, let alone anyone else’s… and have a hand full of cash with no value in their dirty mittens. Like someone said here, the only way change is going to happen is through protest and or riot like what’s happening in the rest of the world when the gov. ignores the peoples wants and rights. I strongly agree that mainstream news is a wool blanket and nothing but distraction for the cattle and I have stopped reading most of it. Welcome to what Alex Jones calls ‘Prison Planet”. One good thing about the internet is it allows all news to be posted, including real news and for us to stay connected to the global consciousness for change. All I know is I am not getting eaten first!

  2. The environment is going to hell, and Nero is still playing his fiddle. Those of us who care about what happens to the next generations are written off as wingnuts. It is easier to ignore what is happening all around us, than to try to fight to stop it. So that is what people do. Fish farms destroy ecosystems, coal poisons our air and our water and speeds up climate change. We are winning some battles but not fast enough to save us from the perilous future. My concern is not my life, but that of my grandchild and his children. Thank you, Rafe and Damien for standing up for BC. Your selfless devotion to our province is inspiring.

  3. PS

    Rafe, internet gossip is a safety valve: talk the talk, don’t walk the walk!

    Gossipers wax eloquently, accusing other of “name calling”.

    Why not? There are no consequences.

    We bare no responsibility for what we do not do and sleep like creosoted logs after a hard day’s opinionated nothingness.

    Gwyn, Christy and Steve love us . . .

  4. Rafe,

    I hope my contrariness didn’t upset you but we are missing the point: bloggers have been on the environment since the internet went viral yet nothing has changed!

    We have confirmed the status quo: Christy Clark and Stephen Harper, two radical anti environmentalists.

    Had there been an internet full of gossipers on July 14, 1789 the Bastille may now be a hot tourist attraction whereby more sincere environmentalists can foul their nests luxury jetting there.

    A very real Charlotte Corday may have spent a long life cleaning the Capets’ toilets and a fictional Madame Defarge may never have learned to knit.

    I understand how the usual suspects get their jollies off accusing this or that “denier” of being paid by oil: they probably are, we all like the high life.

    I am in awe, though, of their plebian pomposity!

    Not to absolve myself: I enjoy gossip too.

    The facts remain . . .

    Google AGW bullshit: have fun . . .

    As for our wild salmon, the government is littered with ambitious creeps . . .

    . . . the Order of Canada is a cheap trinket . . .

  5. Roger, for the record, I live in one of the only 2 condos in Lions Bay, they each have ten units, and mine has one bedroom. Oddly enough, I took the bus to the Club today for a rare visit –when I go downtown it is almost always by bus. I have no “club colleagues”, I’m never there except to have occasional lunches with Wendy or personal friends. I never simply go to the Club and am so goddam old I don’t know anyone there any more anyway. Where the hell did Bloomsbury come it? I fly Economy and as often as possible on points. I stay in South Kensington and I plead guilty to being driven to and from the airport – I am disabled and there is no other way I could handle it. As far as Mind The Gap is concerned – I have a baseball cap with that on it – Wendy and I use the Underground for all travel and have Oyster Cards.

    I’m not quite sure why I wasted my time on you but there it is.

    If you want to meet me, go down to the Vancouver Club, go into the reception area and tell them you are waiting for me. They will politely give you a chair and, all going normally, I will be there sometime in early October

  6. Roger Kemble.
    Interesting post but little of substance other than name calling.
    Add to this that “Lord” Monkton has just been advised by the UK House of Lords to stop using the title as he is NOT a lord of the realm.
    Further to that Christopher is payed indirectly by big oil & big coal companies.
    Read Climate Cover Up ; it’s thought provoking.

  7. Unless you/we can convince people about what is
    really going on [under the rasar] in the world – nothing will change.
    The last exciting fight we did was in Seattle [I think it wa in 1999] , when we faught the UN-WTO.
    The “BOSSES = Corporations are controlling the poriticians..
    People are watching the demonstrations that are going on all around the world.
    They do not realize, that Canada is NOT far away from the same situation. Because NOTHING changes any other way.

  8. Rafe is as usual, bang on.
    We had such a hard time expressing our concerns about the environment out here in Mission, that like the Common Sense Canadian, we had to develop our own paper to help get out the word ( Part of the problem seems to be that adds support these papers and business wants economic development regardless of the cost to the environment. It is sad that the media, intended to inform us, now views the public as mere consumers of their advertising.
    Tracy Lyster

  9. We would like to practice what we preach. Problem is, there is little effort to use renewable energy, There are a few wind farms, some solar energy, and very little thermal energy used.

    I was going to go solar, but the cost was outrageous. Energy friendly vehicles, are far past the price, the everyday citizens can afford. In rural areas, there is no alternate transportation.

    The only news source I trust, are the bloggers. And, that includes Rafe Mair and Damien Gillis. They are making a huge effort, to save BC from being a polluted wasteland.

    So, get lost Tanya, you have nothing to contribute to this web site, other than spite and malice.

  10. Rafe,

    “Mainstream Media Blind” . . . Pot/Kettle?

    Your passionate concern for the environment makes a good read: I enjoy your stuff . . .

    I have caveats nevertheless:

    1. You live in a typical Lions Bay 3 bed SFD.
    2. You drive Sea to Sky every day to your club and fly/drive the province proselytizing.
    3. Your club colleagues disagree sotto voce: you do nothing to enlighten.
    4. You enjoy your frequent visits to your favourite haunts in Bloomsbury: no doubt by first or business class with a cab into town lest you fail to “mind the gap”.

    All the above are energy consuming habits reminiscent of the profligate ‘50’s unworthy of a committed environmentalist.

    Furthermore, Damian, I assume with your concurrence, has this blind acceptance of AGW, which, in enlightened circles, is junk science . . .

    . . . and because I am skeptical of your AGW accepting columnist, I am admonished.

    Hear no evil, see no evil etc.

    Of course you do not eat open net salmon. Nor do I!

    Does practice what you preach ring a bell?

  11. On another note….I believe there is going to be a huge investigation into our ploitical leadership and the Media …sooner rather than later….old news people getting cushy jobs in govt’ ???140 grand a year Whaaaa???

  12. We’ve heard more than enough from you on this one Tanya. The memo is legitimate – that’s what matters. Whether it was an internal memo-to-file, or one filed with a colleague doesn’t matter. It has been accepted as evidence into a federal judicial inquiry. No one gives a crap what your opinion on its authenticity is. Trust you – not the judge, team of Inquiry lawyers, and Dr. Hargreaves himself? Give me a break. If this is your version of industry damage control in the blogosphere, good luck with that. The bottom line is the government’s star fish farm apologist scientist has had his credibility seriously impugned by a colleague and that is relevant. PS further comments from you on this subject will be deleted – so don’t waste your time.

  13. Well, one reporter said, if he comes on strong against the government…He was told to modify his article. Because, he has a family to support, he did as he was told. Losing government ads, is all the newspapers greatest fears. Same as the TV media, they too are very biased against the citizens and pro government.

    It isn’t the same as, family members crowding around the radio, to hear the news of WW11. Six of my family were in the armed services, as were many neighbors boys. Back then, the truth was very important.

    The Free Press Weekly, never had a word of bias, against the people. Journalists were proud of their profession, and being honest was paramount. The media of to-day, are a disgrace to their professions.

    Today, I have canceled my newspapers. It’s always, the same old, same old. I became totally bored after, reading the first two lines. I never watch the news on the telly. To me it is pointless, they are pro government. I know what they will say, before they say it.

  14. If you read the blogs from your previous article you would know why the news won’t touch this. It is because there is no merit to this “letter” it was not addressed to anyone, dated nor sent. It cannot be proven. You cannot disprove years of science from one person’s rantings. You still have not sent me the credentials and published works previous 2003 of this wonderful Hargreaves.
    I believe that the other news entities did their research and that is why they have not jumped on this band wagon.
    Hargreaves has published approx 3 papers in 30 years. That is good money spent by DFO. Why not investigate what this man has been doing for all that time. Please quote me some of the incorrect Science Rafe. Please go through the numerous papers of Beamish and colleagues and show me where there is incorrect science.
    Rafe you lost your job once for, lets use your words, “shoddy” reporting maybe it is time you do the work and report the truth. As I stated in the previous blog good luck in your search for unicorns and leprechauns.

Comments are closed.