Dealing with Rigged Game; New Local Issues Page


Two items for you today.
I have written a bit lately about civil disobedience and have got some feedback.
Civil disobedience must not under any circumstances be violent and it must be carried out as Mohandas K Gandhi saw it – passive resistance. If there is any violence it must come from the other side. There must be no damage done and, most importantly, those who commit civil disobedience must be prepared to take whatever the law dishes out. This was Gandhi’s history and has been, as a good example, the history of roadblocks which have been raised by First Nations when the Government (usually) has refused to recognize their rights.
Civil disobedience comes after civil dissent has not brought about justice.
Traditionally, the story goes like this: A project is approved by the government, and dissenters, having done all the peaceful dissenting they can, try to stop the process by standing in front of bulldozers and similar deeds. The company, with the active assistance from the government, goes to court and a judge issues a ruling that the dissenters refrain from impeding the undertaking; when the dissenters disobey, the court orders them jailed until they have “purged their contempt”, meaning they have said they’re sorry and promised never to do it again. In short, the court turns a civil matter into a crime.
Those who support these kind of legal shenanigans say “the dissenters broke the law and therefore should pay, smothered by pious statements about the Rule of Law. On the surface this is a very tempting argument but it ignores the facts leading up to these “crimes”, namely, that the public has not been consulted about the project in question. There has been no opportunity for the public not only to speak on the matter but also be heard.
The Public hearings on environmental matters arising of private power cases tell the story: they are held by the company, which invariably holds them at an inconvenient location, far from where most people live, in a venue which is not big enough to accommodate those who wish to be heard. The hearing is chaired by a government suck and no questions as to the wisdom of the project are allowed. Whether or not the people want their river to be destroyed is totally out of order – EXCEPT when the company rep wants to sing the praises of the project he can do so to his hearts content. I have been to several of these and ruled out of order in all of them and rather than go through that sham again, I’d rather have a root canal without anaesthesia!
The strategy has been worked out in advance by the government, which you would think would strongly support the right of the people to be heard, but, knowing where its election funds come from, conspires with the company to go through the motions of a sham then put people in jail.
Hundreds leave these meetings feeling cheated of their democratic to be heard and they have indeed been cheated. When they refuse to obey a sham decision it is they, not the ones abusing their democratic rights, who go to jail.
When, out of this disgraceful exercise in dictatorship the bulldozers come out, it’s the moment of truth – do dissenters simply walk away saying, “Oh, well, the fix was in as usual but I must do as I’m told” – or do they continue their dissent right into the jail cell?
They know that the judge, just like the chair of the so called environmental hearing, will rule as out of order any defence demanding the right to be heard on its merits.
The mindset of governments in general but especially the Campbell/Clark government has was neatly set forth by its former Transport Minister and now Finance Minister Kevin Falcon as follows: ”China really has the ultimate government structure…the Chinese don’t have the labour or environmental restrictions we do. It’s not like they have to do community consultations. They just say ‘we’re building a bridge’ and they move everyone out of there and get going within two weeks. Could you imagine if we could build like that?”

Civil Dissenters who become civilly disobedient have shaped the democracies we live in be it for the vote, women’s rights, or fairness in the workplace and by so doing have consistently demonstrated that the self centred and comfortable establishment don’t support anything, including justice, to interfere with their privileged position.

Since Damien Gillis and I founded the Common Sense Canadian a year and a bit ago, the response has been overwhelming and we have to accommodate ourselves to that. There are but two of us without clerical staff to help us. Because of what was going on at the time, we tended to work mostly on private power issues (both of us having been part of the Save Our Rivers Society), fish Farms, because of my long association with Alexandra Morton, and pipelines and tankers, as a direct result of their harm to fish and rivers and farmland. These are by no means the only issues and that’s my point – almost daily it seems another environmental outrage comes across our desks. We want desperately to help but just don’t have the wherewithal.
Damien and I have thought about this – a lot. Our website, gets wide readership, so why not create a bloggers’ page where we can give publicity to efforts we just don’t have the time ourselves to do them justice.
We’re working out the details now so stay tuned – changes are on the way!


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 “Dealing with Rigged Game; New Local Issues Page

  1. This is a good post. This post give truly quality information.I am so glad that I have found this your article because I have been searching for some information about various recipes from pig meat almost an hour.

  2. Andrew, that’s a sweeping generalization that, even if it were true in the micro, is preposterous to claim in the macro. Aboriginal peoples did in fact reside upon these lands for 10,000 years before settlers arrived, and it is only since that time that we see the present level of devastation of our natural environment and depletion of our fisheries, forests, clean water and air quality. So I don’t know where you get your assertions from. Many First Nations I know care deeply for the land; others may well be interested in short-term economic development for their family and people – but to suggest that “natives who claim this crap never gave a shit about the land and exploit it today” is absurd.

  3. “who have been caretakers of these lands since the dawn of recorded time”
    Utter bollocks. The natives who claim this crap never gave a shit about the land and exploit it today unrestrained but for nasty white men laws.

  4. Uncivil Obedience is where I am going. Enough already. I’m leading the march to the L-G office to demand a spring Provincial election. Who will join me?

  5. Brian wrote, “So, civil disobedience must not be un-civil?”

    Must not be violent. Not only is it morally wrong and hypocritical, but it’s counter-productive in terms of winning the battle for public opinion.


    PZ quotes from George Carlin. Excerpt:

    “The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they’re an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They’ve got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear.”

  7. “Civil disobedience comes after civil dissent has not brought about justice.”


    However, following the failure of both these actions to sway government leadership decision making or lack thereof, the resulting conflict is something that people in Canada and BC simply will not speak of or address.

    And it must be spoken of even though it is uncomfortable, makes people uneasy and shifty in their chairs, it is the one thing that the government officials and law enforcement, do not want to see debated anywhere; in print, in public, or on the internet.

    And that is EXACTLY WHY citizens of this country should be talking and debating about this:

    What is the inevitable result when peaceful protest/ civil disobedience/ civil dissent are ignored by governments? The result is violent protest, resulting in revolutionary acts.

    This forms part of our human history time and time again; we as humans have never fully learned from past governments and peoples; so we are soon to enter this final stage of the process.

    How can it not happen here? Look at where it is happening in other parts of the world. The entire cycle is identical to past cycles resulting in the same.

  8. My friends, I am sorry to say that little faith remains in our governing processes to do whats right for British Columbia. In regards to potential tankers and pipelines that fill tankers, there will be confrontational violence due to the fact the majority have spoken already and it is of those who have been caretakers of these lands since the dawn of recorded time. If and when these occurences exist, let it be known words of warning have been spoken beforehand.

Comments are closed.