Rafe Reflects on Common Sense Canadian – And Why 2012 is Make-or-Break Year for BC


It’s customary at this time of the year too look back, comment, and look to the New Year. Why should The Common Sense Canadian (CSC) be any different?
We’ve been going for about a year and a half so my comments may take us a little earlier than last January but let me start by saying that both Damien Gillis and I are pretty proud of our progress.
Neither of us believes in some commonwealth of environmental people and groups. That’s not practical as we all have issues we feel more strongly about than others. We do, however, like to feel that we can bring a vehicle into being that helps all environmentalists and groups find a place to air their feelings. As one would expect, the particular passions of Damien and me will stand out in the work we do but we also support many other groups. Because of the history we bring to the CSC, we tend to look most in four areas, in no particular order: fish farms, private power, pipelines and oil tankers – the latter two being bound together but still two separate issues; but you can’t have one without the other.
What we’ve seen happen in the past year or so is a sense of all environmentalists feeling part of the same general battle – and battle it is.
Let me expand on that last thought a bit. All of us, whether trying to save forests, or a river, or a coastline or whatever are met with the cry “aren’t they in favour of anything?” If they’re not hugging trees they’re against jobs for the young and prosperity for communities. These and similar questions have been raised since the first day someone declared that there were other issues than just monetary ones. To show you how ridiculous this gets, supporters of the proposed “Prosperity” Mine allege that this mine will give employment to 71,000 people! Why not 710,000 if you’re going to be ridiculous?
What we try to do is challenge people to make a value judgment on what is done and place the environmental issues securely on the table. The main reason we do that is that damage to the environment is permanent while the economics diminish as time goes by, leaving only the scars.
Let’s look at a so-called “run-of-river” project. We’re told that these are necessary to create jobs yet when the deed is done there are only a bare handful of caretakers left behind while the river, and the ecology that depend upon it, are permanently and seriously impaired.
Now we are democrats. If the public, fully informed, wish to create permanent environmental damage, that is their right. What happens, however, is that the public, if they are informed at all, only see the glitzy ads by the company and the smooth assurances of the politicians.
Public hearings are, frankly, bullshit. The decision has been made and, like a trial in the old Soviet Union, a “show” trial must take place.
Let me give you a recent example: when President Obama refused to authorize the Keystone XL project which would take “gunk” from the Tar Sands to  Texas, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty instantly responded and said that we would have to put the proposed Enbridge pipeline from the Tar Sands to Kitimat, BC, on “the front burner”! Before the National Energy Board hearings even get off the ground the Finance Minister is assuming the result! Yet, he’s right to do so because the “fix” is well and truly in.
This takes me to the meat of the matter for, in the past couple of years there has been an astonishing cooperation of environmental organizations to fight these things together.
I’ve been all around the province making speeches and often the stage has been shared with COPE union spokespersons, the Wilderness Committee, Alexandra Morton and her Raincoast Research Society, the redoubtable Donna Passmore and her work on highways and farmland issues, CoalWatch Comox Valley regarding the proposed Raven coal mine, citizen groups fighting local issues like overhead transmission lines and numerous grassroots organizations in the Kootenays in Northern BC, on the Sunshine Coast – and the list goes on.
Of enormous consequence has been the work all the different environmental groups have done with First Nations on the issues I have mentioned. One of the most touching moments in my Roast of November 24 last were the speeches given by Grand Chief Stewart Philip, Chief Bob Chamberlin and Chief Marilyn Baptiste; and I tell you truly that I wept when they spoke and sang and considered how far down the road to true understanding of their concerns I had come – something, I might add, Chief Philip commented upon with a twinkle in his eye to match my tears.
Let me pause here to note that I have left out many people and organizations that have every right to stand out in front as those I have mentioned and I deeply hope that I haven’t offended any of them.
Let me speak out clearly on political matters. The Campbell/Clark government are enemies of the public at large. The destruction they have caused, and which will happen because of their policies, beggars description. Not unnaturally, the NDP have been the beneficiaries, often accidentally, from this public disgust with the government. I can tell you that at my “Roast” were people I knew from my old Socred days – people who a year ago would have preferred to be found in a house of ill repute than be seen with the CSC helping us in our fundraiser.
I must say this: the NDP gets no easy ride from us. It’s simple to jump on a bandwagon but we demand commitments from them – not airy, fairy crap that passes for commitment in political jargon.
I’m going to end now with this look ahead. 2012 will be the year that decides where we go in BC.
Will we have more rivers destroyed for private profit? Will we see our province, my homeland and yours, turned over to the 100% certain destruction by pipelines? And to the 100% certainty of catastrophic oil spills on our coast and in Burrard Inlet? Will we continue to allow fish farmers to annihilate our sacred Pacific Salmon? Will we watch idly as Fish Lake is destroyed to set the precedent of more of the same?
Will we do nothing as we lose more and more farmland? Will money promised and jobs pledged suck the wind out of our ability to see what’s really happening to us, our children, our grandchildren and for some of us great-grandchildren?
That is the advantage, you see, of old age – right before your eyes are the people we hold BC in trust for. The wisdom of the ages, in the soul of our First Nations, is the wisdom we must listen to and apply if we want to save our province from those who would convert it into cash for private use, leaving us with nothing but the scars to remind us what damned fools we’ve been.
The Common Sense Canadian will be in this fight in 2012 and in the years to come and, along with those we march alongside, do not intend to lose the battles nor the war.


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.

6 thoughts on “Rafe Reflects on Common Sense Canadian – And Why 2012 is Make-or-Break Year for BC

  1. I wonder if there ever were any like us on Easter Island when the last few trees were cut down?

    Keep up the good work Rafe.

  2. So Rafe,how should we make the decisions on what projects move forward? Do we need to hold provincial referendums on all projects and policies? I have always felt that the majority of people are mostly silent and the minority the most vocal.

  3. I think we all know how tough the battle to save this beautiful province will be.

    Harper has been less than honest about the toxicity of the dirty tar oil, and global warming. At a meeting of global warming, I can’t believe anyone would bully country’s to accept the dirty oil. However, that’s exactly what Harper did. That is gall, at that time and place.

    Then, we have the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals, who have been the most corrupt lying politicians, in Canadian history.

    Of course the media are a disgrace to their professions. They willingly spread the lies of our politicians. I could barely keep my stomach down, when Baldry was interviewing Christy. I ended up, canceling all my newspapers.

    This is a fight to save BC from the atrocities of the Enbridge pipeline and the dirty oil tankers from China. Greed and corruption, must not win. Our rivers have been decimated. Our wild salmon are being killed off, by the filthy diseased fish farms. Farmland destroyed by urban sprawl and greed, and the site C dam. Poisoned lakes leaching into the eco system.

    Our province is much more important, than Harper and the BC Liberals greed. The F.N. I will support.

  4. 2012 will indeed be a pivotal year. This province is teetering on the precipice of politcal and finacial fiasco.

    Civic gogvernment is now so currupt, the the amount of plain brown paper envelopes with “goodies” that are routinely given to civic politicans beggers beleif.

    Civic buracracies have run rampant, with little or no public oversight, adivising our inept city politicians to pass on silly bylaw after another.

    It is so bad that many voters just refuce to vote in civic elections, lest they be tainted by the “Tammany Hall” effect.

    Provincially it is worse, where government politicos and bureacrats are openyly seduced by open corruption. Criminal gangs engage in open warfare and the police, doing little, for fear of stepping on ‘political’ toes.

    Government, which once was the voice of the people, is now a mansive ponzy scheme, compelling the taxpayer to anti up more and more money to keep the entire corrupt system going.

    Cuiuscumque est de corruptione politici novum

  5. Very good summary, Rafe, and I especially appreciate the mention of Stewart Philip, Bob Chamberlin and Marilyn Baptiste. I don’t doubt for a minute that CSC is making a difference. The issues covered here just aren’t going to get a fair treatment from Pacific Press, Corus, etc. Presenting films of things like Fish Lake is evidence that is too hard to just sweep under the rug.

  6. I have three children and nine grandchildren. If you believe in exponential growth, we will soon be a force to be reckoned with.

    I tell my sixteen year old grandson that I have as many years ahead of me as he has behind him.

    I do not intend to waste those years just lamenting what is being done to our homeland.

    BC is not a factory for producing wood, coal, gas, electricity, fish and fresh water for the offshore profiteering of soulless corporations and incompetent politicians to be used and abused and discarded when we are spent.

    If we don’t stand up to these soulless, sociopathic destroyers of everything that makes our province a home, then we betray the trust handed down to us from our grandparents, and leave nothing to entrust to our own grandchildren.

    The current crop of misguided ‘movers and shakers’ who refuse to listen, are about to learn what ‘grey power’ is all about.

    When our offspring see that we are mad as hell and we are not going to take it any more, even to the point of losing those few precious years we have left, to preserve that trust, they too will take the torch from our falling hands and the battle will be won.

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