Rafe on Whom to Support in BC’s Upcoming Election


By the time this is published I’ll be away for two weeks on a neat cruise – Vancouver to Puerto Vallarta and return, no airplanes.

I’m often told, “You must be pretty well off to afford all these cruises,” but the fact is that if I had another ten or fifteen years to go I couldn’t, but not even the miracles of modern medicine can accomplish that! Therefore, our children, grandchildren and great grandchild can make their own ways in life – I had one legacy of $30,000 in my life long after I really needed it. So, to my descendants,  we are spending our savings and you’ll be lucky to get a dime each!

Normally I keep up on blogs when on vacation but this time no – I have a book to finish writing and that will be my writing for the next fortnight. I will be keeping tabs on email but only a cataclysmic event will get me answering it.

This seems to me to be a good time to ramble a bit over our website, the Common Sense Canadian and where we’re heading.

We’re two and a half years old now, having been an offshoot of the Save Our Rivers Society, Tom Rankin’s valiant effort to save rivers from destruction by Gordon Campbell and his thuggish corporate pals, which was fought well and lost. As the great football coach Vince Lombardi famously said, “Winning isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing.”

Damien Glllis and I – a mere 48 years apart in age – worked together on the 2009 campaign and got to know each other well as we travelled the province – his videos and my tonsils working overtime. We worked well together and liked one another and were not content to accept the electoral decision and decided that the fight for our environment was too important to abandon.

The Common Sense Canadian was named in part for Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense, whose enormous impact became the bible of the American Revolution – and in part for the approach we take to environmental and resource management. We believe these aren’t matters of left and right but of right and wrong. 

Our motto comes from Churchill, when he said, “Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty…Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

We knew that the opposition from government and industry would be considerable – and that became a challenge we couldn’t resist.

We are two in number but we have attracted some of the finest environmental writers in the province, which a quick trip to the website and contributors list will demonstrate.

We have little income and what we get goes quickly. We are not, as federal Environment Minister Joe Oliver has declaimed, “funded by offshore money”, but we do say this: we would be glad to have it, so wherever you live in this wide wide world, please help us – and we do not ask for passports!

The issue cannot be escaped – we’re in a political fight which means that, speaking bluntly, the NDP is our main hope, if not our only one.

Let me say that neither of us are “lefties” by instinct but we supported the NDP in 2009 on the Arab saying that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Who else was there to support if you want to save agricultural land, ban fish farms, save rivers and BC Hydro from destruction, oppose pipelines and tanker traffic?

I know that the estimable Jane Sterk, leader of the Green Party would say that the obvious answer is them. But, unhappily, we live in a system that takes in minority parties and spits them out like caraway seeds. This is a sad political catastrophe that deprives large numbers of people of representation in the legislature.

Unfortunately, for now, it’s a fact we must live with.

Our position in the 2013 election will be to ask our readers and supporters to please vote for the candidate who is for the environment and has a reasonable prospect of victory.

It would be nice to think that we could simply vote for the man/woman but to do that means you don’t understand the system. To think, for example, that an MLA for the environment can make a scintilla of difference in a Liberal Caucus – and I have to be insulting – is dreaming in technicolor.

Are Damien and I satisfied that the NDP, if elected, will govern wisely in other areas, especially in fiscal matters?

My answer is no. But neither can we say that the Liberals have governed wisely. Starting with a billion dollar bonus to the well off, the Campbell/Clark government has lurched from one catastrophe to another, tripling the provincial debt in the bargain. BC Ferries has gone except we still finance it, BC Rail has been literally given away and BC Hydro has gone from being a cash cow to virtual bankruptcy – and we’ve yet to pay the federal government a substantial sum to let us off the hook with the HST.

The Liberals whine that they have been sideswiped by the Recession, when they could have substantially mitigated their losses by admitting they knew about the market crash and the recession that was plainly to follow.

But they have the nerve to blame outside forces, when the NDP were hit by a sudden catastrophe that no one foresaw in Asia, a catastrophe that virtually crippled our forest industry and the Liberal Opposition cut them no slack whatsoever. Evidently, they hadn’t anticipatedthe market crash and subsequent recession.

I suppose I can go this far – you can repair fiscal messes but once your environment is destroyed it’s gone forever.

For Damien and me, the issue of our environment transcends all other concerns and we will be urging voters to share those convictions when they cast their votes.


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 rafeonline.com.

8 thoughts on “Rafe on Whom to Support in BC’s Upcoming Election

  1. Rafe, thank you for being a tireless advocate for BC, for our environment, for integrity. J agree with you on lots of things but we part way when it comes to voting.

    When it comes to voting, I can’t bring myself to vote NDP. Actual performance by past NDP governments show that most of their rhetoric goes out the window when it actually comes to governing. They are, at best, a milder version of the Liberals. In particular, their commitment to environmental values go out the window if there is any conflict between the environment and their labour constituencies. Also, you mention STV – the NDP sent their attack dogs to kill it. Disgraceful.

    I would rather vote Green and get Liberals than vote NDP and get NDP.

  2. Oh Rafe and Damien…..so smart in some ways, so blind in others.
    A vote for the NDP is, amongst other things, a vote for dirty fracking and massive LNG exports, a vote against electoral reform, a vote for the most rigid system of party discipline south of Joseph Stalin, and a vote for a wanna be Premier who last time he worked there had to leave the Premier’s office in shame, because he was caught trying to pull the wool over our collective eyes (and who then accepted a $60,000 bonus for bad behavior from his NDP buddies, generously paid for by you and me).
    Is that the bright future you are trying to steer us to?
    Frankly, I have heard this type of self-deceptive ‘vote for the least of the two evils’ babble once too often, and is ironic to read it in an article which also contains the much more courageous Churchill quote to “never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy”. Things worth struggling for are never easy to achieve, but in the era of Elizabeth May the choice for environmental, electoral and ethical change is clear and it is GREEN!
    Keep up the (otherwise) good work, and hope one day you’ll join us!

  3. Fish farm going in south of Oliver, trying to stop it but NO public input to be allowed…….
    Also Interior Health equals inferior health and all replies are circuitous.
    Papers largely ignoring both.
    It is one large cesspool, with us the general public swimming futiley around.

  4. Rafe answers that, Russ: “vote for the candidate who is for the environment and has a reasonable prospect of victory.” Emphasis on reasonable prospect of victory. Ergo not the Green Party. Sad but true. That’s why we need electoral reform. Too bad the Greens came out against STV the first time around or BC’s political world would be a whole different colour. Nevertheless, we must continue to strive for electoral reform.

  5. And I have to be insulting, schizophrenic: no mention of Green (presumably because no “reasonable prospect of victory”); yet “the issue of our environment transcends all other concerns”.

  6. GREAT ONE RAFE… I vote GREEN..And always will support the green partty.. Elizabeth ay has been A THORN IN Harpers paw since daY ONE .. aND CONTINUES.. SEEING THE NDP LIED ABOUT SMART METERS.. THEY SAY WE SPENT TO MUCH TO REVERSE THE INSTALLATION.. they are saying our childrens health has a price tag and they will ignore the endless studies (150 HAND DELIVERED TO DR PERRY KENDALL ) .. Voting for the liberals or NDP is like a junky trying to get a fix.. It only numbs the paiun and nothing ever really gets better.. OR THE PEPSI CHALLENGE… I DONT LIKE PEPSI OR COKE… THE TV ADDS LEAD YOU TO BELIEVE THATS ALL THERE IS… BUT wait a minute .. yahoo mountain dew… green /refreshing / and what i want.. greens are the new way,, no one is buying what mainstream media is sellin.. so while i push to get something i want.. i hit the highway in my spare time.. raise awarenes and direct action against big oil etc

  7. Luv ya’ Rafe… Have a great vacation… and don’t give anything a second thought… All the CRAP will still be here when you get back… HUGS!

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