Vancouver Sun Still Reluctant to Take on IPPs


The Vancouver Province has, belatedly to be sure, attacked the BC Energy policy and called it “folly”. I felt it might be appropriate, then, to offer an op-ed article to the Vancouver Sun, which I did on March 1 and which I followed up on March 6 by emails to Fazil Milhar, the Vancouver Sun editor in charge of their editorial page. Having not even received the courtesy of a reply I sent another email Friday last saying that if I didn’t receive a reply by the 14th I would feel at liberty to make all this known.

My letters have been polite and respectful and merely asked for the opportunity his pages give to the BC Fish Farmers, for example.

Mr. Milhar was policy analyst for the Fraser Institute for several years. There’s nothing wrong with that except to say that putting a person with such deep right wing biases in charge of what opinions will be printed on the op-ed page of the Vancouver Sun seems unfair.

In fact, it is unfair. Surely the op-ed page is to allow all sides if the issue to have their say and refusing us is patently unfair and, in the absence some other explanation we must conclude that Mr. Milhar’s right wing beliefs are taken out against beliefs he doesn’t agree with.

Unlike Mr. Milhar, we at The Common Sense Canadian would be pleased to have him contribute his views to our website.  

What ever happened to the tough reporter, the fearless columnist, the editor and publisher who held authority to account?

Why is it the fourth estate has become part of the “establishment”?

Did it start in Canada with the Meech Lake/Charlottetown Accords when Brian Mulroney declared that to oppose these plans would be almost treasonous?

In the Charlottetown Accord debate one of the large Central Canadian media companies, MacLean/Hunter actually signed on to the “Yes” side; so much for its journalistic integrity!

Here were two efforts to change the country dramatically and no newspaper, TV outlet or radio station would even question the issues with a faintly jaundiced eye –  I must except radio station CKNW where I broadcasted. Even then, though my program kept the 50-50 balance CKNW put on a well known pro-Charlottetown person to counteract my forthcoming editorial. So even they were onside Mulroney’s packages.

I don’t believe that a free society with this kind of media can remain free; an unquestioning media that persists in the US and to an increasing degree in UK “journalism” erodes democracy.

Is the Internet the answer?

The trouble is that the Internet is so messy with blogs by the gazillion on every manner of question.

The hope is that more solid Internet outlets, like and, of course our home at, both for which I write, will become better and better known. The Internet’s problem is that major advertisers are leery that the free speech associated with the Internet will hurt them. That will change for as the mainstream media declines, so will advertisers’ interest in it.

The big advantage of a website is that its stories are archived. While today’s newspaper is quickly put on the bottom of the birdcage, we’re there for a long time.

My sense of it is that main street “journalism” will continue its slow but steady downward slide to the profit of free papers like Metro, 24 hrs, and websites like The Tyee and The Common Sense Canadian.

It’s ironic, having gone through all that pain of new printing technology, that now, as technology increases, the newspapers decline.

For us at The Common Sense Canadian we know that we can and do make the Internet work when people who support us pass our columns and documentaries to others asking them to do the same.

With the refusal of Mr. Milhar to even deal with my request we must continue and expand our efforts to be our own media.

It works. 


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

3 thoughts on “Vancouver Sun Still Reluctant to Take on IPPs

  1. We are a couple in our fifties (sp?) who are financially stable, have travelled and worked overseas, we support environmental concerns, we have cancelled our home delivery of newspaper, listen to CBC and rely on web-based news. Thank you for your dedication to a non-aligned media environment.

  2. ” Surely the op-ed page is to allow all sides if the issue to have their say and refusing us is patently unfair and, in the absence some other explanation we must conclude that Mr. Milhar’s right wing beliefs are taken out against beliefs he doesn’t agree with. ”

    And the Vancouver Sun wonders why their profits, their readership, and their morals are tanking …

    I haven’t read the Sun for ages now. I have too many other better sources.

  3. The recent Sun article by Gordon Hamilton on cumulative effects of land use in BC does not even mention IPP hydroelectric projects. The article is now buried on their website. I wrote a comment and think it is reasonable to query any financial connections.
    1:30 AM on March 14, 2011
    “The cumulative effects of hydroelectric power plants should be mentioned. There are many more being proposed by private corporations under the misnomer of run of river. The Minsitry of Forests lacks jurisdiction to oversee construction practices. There is no watchdog. Construction photos of projects like the ones on the Sunshine Coast show the true size and scope and portrays many infractions a logging company would be fined for. They are akin to mining with drilling, blasting and tunnelling to drain alpine lakes. Government ministries are too understaffed and rely on contracting out environmental monitoring duties. Tyson Lake draining was a prime example of a sedimentation problem that was only brought to public light because of a chance report by a local citizen. Even when problems are shown to be a real issue, new projects in the same vicinity get EAO approval without that cumulative study.”

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