Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Do Citizens get the Government they deserve?


                           Do Citizens get the Government they deserve? 


We are not getting the government we deserve.  All governments hold great power to deceive and divide the populace.  Our burning BC forests are a good example of this.  When tree farm licenses (TFL’s) to log on public forest land (unceded native land) were first given out to private logging companies by the BC government, there was a condition attached.  It was called the Appurtenance Clause.  This clause demanded that in exchange for practically giving away public forest trees (in those days it was priceless old growth forests) the logging companies had to build saw mills on the lands covered under the TFL’s. It was a government exchange; a give-away of public forest trees for jobs, jobs in the forests, and jobs in the mills.  And the workers also had the union (IWA) to look after their interests. 

As time went on, commercial logging, with clear- cutting the favored (and only) method of logging, soon begat enormous clear cuts that disfigured the land, killed wild animals, poisoned the waters and displaced and dispirited First Nations.  The companies, increasingly multi-national, continued to shift the responsibility of the care of the forests to the government itself while still dictating how things should be done (no controlled burns). The logging companies hated the worker’s union (IWA) and the union leadership became corrupt, especially when the easy picking, easy clear-cutting, valley old growth forests became scarce.  IWA leader, Jack Munroe, finally stepped down to take a plumb job speaking for the forest companies and against the workers.  The IWA began to dissolve .

 New labour saving machinery started replacing men in the forests as well as in the mills.  Some of the mills didn’t make enough profit to satisfy the multinational logging companies.  They advised the NDP they wanted out of the Appurtenance Clause; the deal that insisted on mill jobs for workers in exchange for the give way of public forests.   And in 2003 the NDP government caved and canceled the Appurtenance Clause.   The NDP gave away BC public forests and mill jobs for absolutely nothing in return. That we know of.


It is easy for me to say that the workers should have demanded more from their union (I have been a union supporter all of my life), demanded more from the corporations they worked for, and demanded more protection from the government.  However, the workers were divided by the deal- making being made by the remnants of their treacherous union. And the enviro groups of the day were also divided.  Each individual environmental group was in competition with the other enviro groups for scarce funding. Not only did we not have enough communication between like groups, we certainly didn’t try hard enough to engage the forest and mill workers themselves.  Another thing that bothered me (from the confines of my prison cell) was that among the leaders of the more predominately well-funded enviro groups there was a decided air of elitism. And then  selective leaders from this group of major environmental elites made a deal with the BC Liberal government behind closed doors that if the Great Bear Rain Forest would be preserved, there would be no more “War in the Woods”. 

I resented this behind the scenes environmental dealing by select environmentalist groups at the time, especially with the succeeding Gordon Campbell government, and I still do.  These groups can no more speak for people who are willing to do civil disobedience, the when and where citizens decide to protest environmental destruction, than I can.  Civil disobedience in defense of Mother Nature is always up to individuals.  And we can see that saving (or partially saving) a certain forested  area in this vast province in exchange for continuing with the  uncontested rotten forest practices in the rest of the province, practices that have led to massive, catastrophic fires, is not a good idea. And logging in the Great Bear has continued. From Ian McAllister of Pacific Wild:  ‘”There is no skirting the issue:  “This agreement proposes to log 2.5 million cubic metres of old-growth forest every year for the next 10 years,” he said in an interview. “The campaign was to stop ancient-forest logging.  Unfortunately this agreement enshrines the idea that ancient-forest logging is part of doing business in the Great Bear Rainforest.  That’s been a significant change in the conservation movement”.

The new NDP Environment Minister, George Heyman, has stated that reviewing B.C.’s forest system is a top priority for the B.C. government.   But as yet there is no timeline.  Perhaps the continued burning of the province’s forests will set a fire under him.  Hope springs eternal in the human breast.


Wednesday, August 02, 2017

The Canadian Softwood Exemptions

The Canadian Softwood Exemptions

You may have heard mentioned on CBC that there are three Atlantic Provinces declared exempt by the US from heavy softwood countervailing duties. However, you may not have noticed that the CBC has not explained why Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador have been given these exemptions. Why not?  CBC just can’t bring themselves to hurt the feelings of the international logging companies operating in BC public forests.  CBC used to be a program for Canadians; not so much anymore.  It now seems to operate more on the international stage that suits the globalists.  In this view, bigger is better.  And bigger has bigger power.

In June, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross excluded three Atlantic Canadian provinces, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador from the countervailing duties for softwood.  The rationale for that exclusion by the American government is “that lumber companies in those provinces gets most of their wood from private lands and so do not benefit unfairly from the use of Crown lands”.

Secretary Ross means that the Maritime Provinces pay the market rate for the trees they harvest.  He means the other provinces, including BC, do not.  In BC the logging companies steal the trees (broadly speaking) from public forests.  From unceded Indian land.  And from us, BC citizens.  Of course BC softwood is subsidized.   Again, by us.  We can stop it.  The international logging companies should pay the market rate for the trees they plunder from public forests.  They should also be required, along with the minister of forests, to learn from First Nations the art of controlled burning of forest debris that prevents the kind of catastrophic fires we are experiencing now.  We must find ways to demand this or our province, except for the cities, will become a burned over wasteland.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Ring of Fire Circling BC

The Ring of Fire Circling BC

A ring of fire is circling a large part of our province. The fires are a direct result of unabated commercial logging. Huge multinational companies have, in essence, been given the BC public forests, (native lands) by different BC governments for free (they pay only a few dollars for the trees which is why the US accuses BC lumber of being subsidised).  I am asked…exactly how are the commercial logging companies the villains in this?

Because only controlled burning, to rid the forests of accumulated buildup of forest debris, especially after clear-cutting, will stop the catastrophic wild fires occurring now.  And who opposes controlled burning so vehemently that controlled burning doesn’t happen?  Why, the multi-national logging companies.  Why do they oppose?  Because even a controlled burn many very well take out some of the commercial tree farm trees from time to time.  Any controlled burn is a risk to their bottom line.  The province, no matter who is in power, will not go against the logging companies. Commercial logging needs maximized profits; politicians need maximized votes and political support.   

What stopped the citizen’s mass environmental protests when people came out in droves years ago to protect BC forests? What stopped all those protests? Primarily BC Chief Justice Madam Beverly McLachlin, as she was then (she is currently Chief Justice of Canada).  McLachlin laid down the definitive ruling of how environmental protesters were to be treated if arrested. They were to be charged, but not under the Criminal Code as everyone else is charged for a misdemeanor.  Environmental protesters were to be put into a special category. They would be charged with Contempt of Court which is a much more serious charge.  But how did this happen?  What was the reasoning behind making protesters guilty of Contempt of Court? They weren’t protesting the Court, they were protesting commercial logging.

But McLachlin reasoned that by protesting the injunction (a judge’s order) and refusing to move, protesters were bringing the justice system into disrepute. She wrote:  The gravamen (the essence) of the offense (of protesting) of criminal contempt is not actual or threatened injury to persons or property, other offences deal with those evils.  The gravamen of the offence is rather the open, continuous, and flagrant violation of a Court order.”

But that’s what a protest is about, to come together with like-minded citizens, in the freedom to be open, to speak truth to power,  to try to attract attention to the destruction of BC forests and other environmental destructions, and yes, to give voice to this for as long as possible. We were willing to face arrest, but I don’t blame anyone for not being willing to be deprived of the protections of the law itself.  Is there a remedy?  Yes, more protests.  And maybe even a little help from our new Attorney General, David Eby. The Attorney General could certainly help in persuading the police and the Crown to treat all citizens equally. As he is the former president of the BC civil liberties association, I put great faith in David Eby’s wish to right this egregious wrong.