Not a Good Night for BC’s Environment


It was not, over all, a great night for environmentalists in BC with the very notable exception of the election of Elizabeth May as the first Green Party MP in our history. She will find that she has taken on the responsibility of being one of BC’s main spokespeople on environmental matters and The Common Sense Canadian looks forward to working with May and, of course, those other MPs who feel as we do about the environment and related issues. I make no apologies for not calling the election correctly – if I did that I would spend half my lifetime apologizing!
As the old saying has it, if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. So it is with us who have taken environmental issues on as a lifetime issue. It’s not that we don’t see, understand and have passion for other issues – rather that we see the environment as being urgent. If we get it wrong over the next few years – and the BC government and the Harper government have got it wrong – then the damage is forever. You simply cannot restore wild salmon runs or erase the damage of a catastrophic oil spill. On the economic side of the environment issue, if you lose your public power to private interests as we seem determined to do, it’s gone forever.
It must be stressed that we are not opposed to change where it is demonstrated to be in the public interest. We’re not Luddites out to destroy the “cotton ‘gin’” although any study of that time makes one very understanding of those who saw their livelihoods vanish to an unmanned factory that used to employ them. But – and this must be stressed – the environmental destroyers with their fish farms and private river monstrosities are not destroying jobs that exist – they are pleading the employment they bring as justification for their schemes. After short term construction jobs are over, the only jobs are as caretakers.
It’s not as if these huge companies bring us something we can’t do for ourselves – quite the opposite. Our wild salmon have sustained communities for generations and, in the case of First Nations, for eons. These fish farm companies use our resources to make fortunes for foreign shareholders.
Consider this: Fish farmers tell us that they can’t go to self contained methods because it’s too expensive.
Why is it too expensive?
Because they don’t have to pay for their farm now because we the people and the environment bear all the expense.
This is the same with private power companies – not only do they not make a sou for our province, not only do they not make power we can make ourselves for much cheaper, not only do they destroy our rivers, they do it at our expense. We pay their overhead!
This it is with bringing Tar Sands in pipelines across our province then down our coastline in tankers – we pay their overhead by taking all the risk!
The point I’m forcing is that it isn’t just a “green” issue but an economic one. We British Columbians pay all the overhead of fish farms, private power projects, pipelines and tanker traffic! And there’s nothing in it for us!

But don’t let me deceive you. If we were making bundles out of these deals I would oppose them with every effort I could summon. I would do so because it’s plain wrong. These fish, rivers, ecologies are like trust funds. They don’t belong to us.
Speaking for Damien and myself, The Common Sense Canadian, far from being set back by a Tory government, are challenged – and we love challenges. We see a number of MPs in a position to fight and well motivated for the battle ahead.

People vote in elections for many things. It is our challenge to see that when we have the next provincial election, saving our fish, our rivers, our public power, our wilderness and our coastline are front and centre issues.


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

8 thoughts on “Not a Good Night for BC’s Environment

  1. i’m firmly convinced the people who voted Conservative believe their god will take care of all things environmental – how can so many of us recognise the oncoming environmental calamity yet so many do not ?

    Conservatism should apply to environmental issues as much as fiscal – Harper does not get this at all

  2. Closed containment is too expensive because of the pumping costs. On land farm would have to pump much water, this water is required to provide for oxygen for the fish and to flush away excess foods and fish excrements. this therefore still relies on the environment to do the work. By switching to Anaerobic Digesters and harvesting the gas generated to power the pumps can reduce the costs. The remaining products are inert soil amendments that can be used by farmers.

    By searching for up and coming technologies to solutions we can still harvest fish well on land and leave natural areas alone. Nobody thinks of these things they just yell as each other.

  3. Fish Farmer, no one ever said common sense was common – your industry is a case in point. You could protect our environment AND provide good local jobs by moving to closed-containment. That’s a sensible request from the public – yet you chose to ignore it in favour of increased profits to your Norwegian head offices…In any event – that’s what we’re here for: to help render common sense a little more common.

  4. BC will NOT benefit from our natural resources nor our assets. What is the benefit to the citizens of, Campbell’s theft a sale of our rivers? How did BC people benefit from, Campbell’s corrupt sale of the BCR.

    When the Enbridge pipeline is finished, so are the jobs. We will have dirty oil tankers from China, going into the most treacherous seas in the world. Pipeline burst, as we just heard of, ANOTHER pipeline burst out of Edmonton. It is BC’s marine life that will perish. Our rivers, streams and soil will bear the brunt of a burst.

    Stupid people don’t stop to think. They can’t drink gas and oil. We can’t eat fish out of a poisoned lake. Nor can we eat copper and gold, that our lakes are being poisoned by, the toxic mine waste being dumped into them. Poison leaches into the soil, you can’t eat anything out of poisoned soil. Can you just imagine a tanker spill in our beautiful coastal seas? All the marine life will die. We can’t breath poisoned air, as the citizens of Prince George found. Has everyone seen the pictures of the rivers being destroyed by, Campbell’s run of the rivers projects? That is an abomination.

  5. Considering it’s the only environment we have, we need to offer her some protection from Free Market Capitalism. If you want to make craploads of money, then by all means go and make it where you can, but don’t import the toxins to a virtually unspoiled tract of the Earth to do it. I hope Mr. Harper will look at the BC landscape and see an asset, not a place to reconfigure and despoil, just to make the Oil companies money, and China happy. A community is only as healthy as the Environment in which it resides.

  6. With Elizabeth May now elected to parliament, there is official recognition of the environmental consequences to government. That, in my mind, is half the battle. The people put her and the Green party in Ottawa – not the Conservatives.

    No doubt there will be a lot of ignorance shown by the majority government, but hopefully, this can be checked somewhat by the NDP and Liberals and the Green party.

    At least it is a start – the first candidate is now there. We have to wait and see what happens now.


  7. I figured that last night might have had you in a tizzy Rafe.
    Now May can have her voice heard across the land as the sole, shrill defender of the Environment in the land of evil Conservative majority.
    I guess it is impossible for you to see that your, and Damien’s assumption that you are actually on the side of “Common Sense” may not be the case.
    Now there will be an NDP force to draw the country to the center and I see common sense prevailing after all.
    It just might not be what you want it to look like.
    You only be able to selectively see industry done badly, and never recognize the fact that when done properly these things can benefit our province and respect the environment at the same time.
    The environmental religion has taken hold in BC officially now, and I have no doubts that it will carry on into the future with the same ideologies and blind faith that have kept people ignoring reality for centuries.

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