Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Why Do We Stay In this Clapped Out Confederation?

I was recently asked to explain why British Columbia remains in Confederation. I really had to give it some thought but still haven't come up with a compelling reason.

I encountered this issue when I came to BC 40 years ago. There were a number among my then fellow articled students who thought this province should go it alone, forge its own future. At the time I found that offensive, an affront to my Canadian nationalism.  Fast forward those 40 years and the notion doesn't strike me as offensive at all. I now feel far more a British Columbian than a Canadian and I sense a deepening and irreconcilable chasm between the two.

Prior to his death (October, 2017), our legendary Rafe Mair, former MLA turned journalist and social activist, championed British Columbia independence. He argued that "British Columbians are no longer prepared to do what they're told." Our current prime minister, like his predecessor, goes a long way in making Rafe's point.

I find I no longer come close to sharing the values Canada now stands for – I’m not talking about opinions but a philosophy of life, a set of basic values.

As a core value, I value the environment above the desire of bankers and developers to make money and bought and paid for politicians to support them. I accept the need for societal sustenance but do not accept plunder in the name of progress.

The flashpoint is the Trudeau supported revival of the Alberta Tar Sands and the Prime Minister compelling BC to sacrifice both principle and its environment to the transport and sale of Tar Sands product to places that will be under no constraints as to its use. I believe Canada must accept responsibility for safeguarding water, land and air in places it exports products and services. I cannot be loyal ro a country that has no such values.


I have long felt more British Columbian than Canadian. When BC Minister for constitutional affairs working on amending the BNA Act to become the Constitution, I observed the perpetual second class treatment of BC and saw how no one cared that the Senate was an ongoing, deliberate putdown of my province, observed its woeful lack of representation on federal boards and commissions, lack of BC prime ministers and utter absence oF BC Governors-General, the disgraceful Prussian arrogant treatment of BC’s fishery by the federal government, the unthinking and uncaring expectation that in the 1970 FLQ crisis that it was fine to put BC, which wasn’t involved under martial law (no one would surely suggest that a murder and a kidnapping in BC by BC separatists, would have resulted in Ontario and Quebec being placed on martial law). The put downs seemed endless and started early.

My generation grew up learning that Canadian explorers were Cartier and Champlain, Indians were Iroquois, Algonquin and Huron, and some limey, Sir Isaac Brock was a Canadian hero. I learned about Captains Cook and Vancouver, Quadra and Russian settlements in British History in a private school and about Simon Fraser and David Thompson at UBC. I didn’t read a decent history of BC until from Dr. Walter Sage and Dr. Margaret Ormsby in secohd year UBC and the real history of the land of my birth until I was nearly 70 and interviewed Dr. Jean Barman on her classic, The West Beyond The West. I doubt one in 100 kids of my vintage could name the first BC premier or the rich Victoria merchants, without a suggestion of public support, who sold us out to Ottawa for a mess of potage and a railway to help Ontario grab our resources cheap.

The Meech Lake/Charlottetown Accords disclosed a basic gap between the Central Canadian elite – the people the late Denny Boyd called “Higher Purpose Persons (HPPs)”, who know best, – and those ignorant idiots in BC who refused to accept special powers for one province.

After Elijah Harper killed Meech Lake, BC said next time it won’t be the premiers deciding but the people in referendum and thus it was that The Charlottetown referendum was held and 67.9% of British Columbians said “we’ve had enough of your patronizing crap – get stuffed!”

Then Justin Trudeau decided, cross my heart, hope to die, to give Canadians a better voting system. To do it democratically, we’ll hold cozy neighbourhood meetings around the Country, then the House of Commons will meet, and the Liberal Party will cram through a reformed First Past The Post with a preferential ballot and presto! by an amazing coincidence, The Liberals will have its way and should carry Central Canada forevermore.

HPPs said there mustn’t be a referendum because, er, the people can’t understand these complicared issues and remember what happened when they voted on Charlottetown! In fact the HPPs were right for the wrong reason. Trudeau understood it was a Liberal Party Permanent Election formula he was after and wasn’t going to let those troublemakers in BC spoil it all for the elite, the HPPS as they did with Charlottetown in 1992. It was safer to break your word and lay low.

On British Columbians' values:

I am an environmentalist. When we lose our environment, be it the extinction of a species we’ve never heard of, a valley sustained by its fauna, flora and water or a run of herring it is a huge tragedy. That list, as you know, is endless. Reading reports from Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd breaks the heart.

Does that mean that I oppose all industry and development?

That’s a pretty silly question. We have to work, eat and survive. But to the Canada exemplified by Trudeau, development, without more than cynical word service for the values I care about, trumps everything. Bear in mind throughout the balance of what I have to say that the Precautionary Principle is the law of Canada.

Definition – The precautionary principle (or precautionary approach) to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public, or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus (that the action or policy is not harmful), the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking that action.

Start with fish farms. Recently disease spreading from farms to wild salmon was scientifically demonstrated yet another time. The evidence of assaults on our wild salmon by sea lice from fish farms and disease from farmed fish, not to mention damage to other sea life and to the ocean floor, has piled up for 15+ years, is overwhelming yet, in as few words as possible, what was Fisheries Minister and DFO answer to the plethora of evidence generally and to the latest report? “BC, GO FUCK YOURSELVES!”


The Alberta Tar Sands, the world’s biggest natural polluter, producers a tar like substance artificially liquefied, which if spilled, especially on water, is virtually impossible to clean up as it usually sinks too quickly to be dealt with, a spill defined as minor into the Kalamazoo River, in Michigan, in 2010, has not yet been cleaned up and probably never will be. The federal government has approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline to bring this from the Tar Sands through BC to Burrard Inlet (Vancouver Harbour) them taken by tankers across the Salish Sea, through or near the Gulf Islands through the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the Ocean.

The company claims this will “only” add 400 tankers a year but as the Duke of Wellington said to a man on a London street who hailed him ‘Mr. Robinson, I believe’, “Sir, If you believe that, you’ll believe anything!”

Spills are inevitable. So are tanker collisions and serious ones. Great damage will be done to our precious sea life, lives will be lost. And for what?


Many things make up a nation but in my view shared values outrank all the rest combined. These aren’t political quarrels I have with Canada, though I have lots of them. No, these are fundamental values I can’t live without and Justin Trudeau can’t live with. None of these values destroy industry but put it, and what we are deeply committed to in British Columbia, on a level playing field where he who would impact the very essence of our homeland has the onus of proving he will do no harm or none which we whose home it is will not accept.
British Columbia, my home, has been pushed around the 85+ years I have lived, worked, served, loved and, yes, loafed in her. To be called a bad Canadian because I want to protect her wild life and their habitat and don’t want to assist uncaring capitalists and their captive governments to spread ruin here and elsewhere has finally become too much.

I hope you understand but that’s irrelevant, “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.”

May God bless Cascadia, a land of values.


rumleyfips said...

Bullshit, I learned about Frazier, Cook, Thomson and the Haida in grade 8 history in Ontario in 1960. They were all in my history book.

Anonymous said...

Anyong.....I can't help but agree with you....the environment is first. But it is one huge disappointment that we as Canadians, cannot agree to do what is best for the whole of the country. We are only 35 million people.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well, I certainly didn't have that in my curriculum in Grade 8, Rumley. Today I'm not sure they teach Canadian history at all. I once hired a receptionist right out of some highschool in the Fraser Valley. She won a couple of awards in school. This goes back to the Chretien era. I quickly discovered that she seemed to know very little about Canadian history. I offered her an extra ten bucks a month for every prime minister she could name other than Chretien, Mulroney and Trudeau. It didn't cost me a dime.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anyong, we can't agree on our responsibility to leave Canada in any fit state for our grandchildren to inherit. As far as I can see that's an indifference that crosses party lines. In a country where someone determined to defend the coast is seen as a bad Canadian, an obstructionist, it feels like we belong somewhere else, on our own I suppose. It grates on me every time I have to hear one of those assholes - whether Joe Oliver, Rachel Notley or the Trudeau gang - mention "tidewater."

Toby said...

Geography tends to win in the end. BC's geography runs roughly north <-> south. It is easier to take car, train or boat south to Washington State than over the mountains to the rest of Canada. That is why the Kettle Valley Railway was built 100 years ago. That's also why it shut down.

BC's separation from the rest of Canada has been written about many times, particularly by Pierre Berton, Barrie Sanford and Rafe Mair.

Jay Farquharson said...

I went to school up to Junior High School in the Maritimes. History was part of every Grade from 3 up to 10, and not just Canadian History, but History. In Grades 11 and 12, History was an elective.

In BC, Canadian History was part of Social Studies in Grades 8-10, and part of Social Studies as an elective in 11 and 12.

Trailblazer said...

Separate then discuss the details!
What next?
Discuss how we can cohabitate!

And here we are saying Brexit is shite!


Jay Farquharson said...

It's not quite that simple. I live now in rural BC where extraction of resources is a key component of resources.

Take Ajax for example. Most of the resistance to Ajax is NIMBYism, with a small component of First Nations rights. The Coal Mountain "chain", (a series of hills) which Ajax wanted to strip mine, has been mined since as early as 1843. It's full of test bores, old mine shafts and properly sealed mine shafts, according to some rumours, even some mine shafts filled with improperly disposed of WWI munitions. It's anchored at the western end, by Ironmask Copper's Open Pit Mine, on the edge of Jacko Lake. Ironmask Mine has been in operation for mostly copper, since the 1920's, off and on. ( When copper prices are up, the Mine works, when they are down, a mothball crew maintains the equiptment). Running across the #5 and down to the barren salt flats is the haul road to the Stamp Mill and tailings piles out in the middle of nowhere. The Coal Mountain Complex was first mined for coal, then gold, then copper, zinc, lead, gold and silver, in varying percentages by ore body.

Climbing the backside ( north side) of the eastern end of the Coal Mountain formation, are the Kamloops subdivisions of Aberdeen and Sahali, where home prices vary greatly, but the latest homes are high on the hill and are closing in on a million dollars. When the mine is in operation, ( historically it would be 3-4 years every decade, because of copper prices), the residents would be subject to dirt and dust, blasting noises and heavy equiptment noise, when the wind is blowing north, which it is most afternoons. As the proposed Equiptment and Maintence site would be located roughly at the junction of Goose Lake and Long Lake Rd, there would be greatly increased traffic, ( 20-30%) along Summit and the 5A, which are the commuter roads for Sahali and Aberdeen. Because of these factors, home prices would drop, but disporpotionally. The more expensive homes higher on the hill, would lose a much greater percentage of value, More affordable duplexes might have even seen an increase in value.

First Nations Peoples have long used the Jacko Lake area for resource extraction. Hunting was mostly conducted in the hills south of the Lake, the Coal Mountain Area was lightly foraged for roots and herbs, the lake itself, was used for fishing, waterfoul hunting, tubers, and they are seeking to have thier traditional rights recognized. The noise from the mine would destroy some hunting in the south hills, Jacko Lake, and eventually Coal Mountain. As the land in question has been privately owned since the 1920's, the First Nations, other than in private agreements with the landowners, have not been able to hunt, fish and gather since the 1920's. Ditto for Sports Hunters, however, the owner of the Jacko Lake Ranch holdings was an avid fisherman, he created public access to Jacko Lake for sportfishing, which has endured. Coal Mountain has some legal hiking trails, but much of the hiking that actually takes place is tresspass on marginal pasture lands.

One variation proposed by Ajax, would "preserve" Jacko Lake, much like it is, a very good trout pond next to an open pit mine that some years is active, and some years mothballed.

So, mone or no mine?

Looks like no mine.

Funny thing is, if the mine site was on the south slope of the the Goose Lake valley, (5 km south), rather than the north slope, there would be few objections.

I'd have few objections to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, if it were to transport Alberta Oil, but it's not, it's being built to ship Tar Sands, which should not be mined, and will cost BC 600 Refinery jobs, 'cause it won't be shipping refinable oil any more.

Trailblazer said...

and will cost BC 600 Refinery jobs,!!

Interesting comment.
Can you verify it?


rumleyfips said...

This post seems to be sticking with me. I lived in Ontario for 55 years and always identified as Canadian with no feeling of Ontario identity. Here in Nova Scotia the provincial identity is strong but so is the Canadian .

Who have been the anti-Canadian federal politicians in the past few decades. Mulroony ( no coincidence that Bouchard was a minister ) Manning, Harper et al. Fine bunch.

Who have been provincial separatists. Williams, Klein, Parizeau etc. Again a bunch of right wing extremist Noone has any use for.

The Mound of Sound said...

There was a time, Jay, when I did some work for a few mining companies and I wasn't proud of that. Their attitude to the environment was, overall, deplorable. One case involved a crushing mill that was extraordinarily valuable because it came with a grandfathered permit to dump tailings into an adjacent lake. Have you got any idea what comes out of a gold and silver crushing mill? When someone does hold them to account they retaliate by pissing off to Central America where their dealings with, make that 'abuse of', the local people is legendary.

Jay Farquharson said...

Anonymous said...

Anyong...when I went to school I studied Newfoundland History, Canadian, British and World History as a course...from Grade Eight to Grand Twelve.

Jay Farquharson said...

Heap leech mining should be banned, but Ajax was not planned as a Heap leech mine, nor is IronMask. Iron Mask tailings from the Stamp Mill get piled up on an alkali salt plain, that while wet in spring from the snowmelt, is dry by early summer.

All BC's extractive Industries need much better regulation and oversight, Contracted Management and Self Compliance is BS. There's no shortage of examples.

There are places in BC that have been so beaten down by Extractive Industries, ( salmon, steelhead, Coastal Rainforest, etc) that what is left, should never be touched and every possible human effort made to restore them.

There are other places, where properly managed Extractive Industries, can exist with out harm and actually as an environmental benefit. Drive up the West Side Chehais River FSR about 5 km, find a place to park, and go for 2 hikes, one up hill, one downhill, in the woods.

There, you will find a 3rd Generation Mixed Species Forest, about 75 years away from being an "Old Growth Forest". You won't find anything like it anywhere on the Coast. Keep in mind, the forest was clear cut to bare ground in the late 1800's, so much so you can find the remains, flat railbeds and rotting trestles from the logging railroads. What remained of the Old Growth, and the Second Growth, burned up in the massive forest fires of the 1930's.

The TFL has been managed by Jones Lake Logging Company since the 1970's when the acquirered it from MacBlo. They started off by investing in hand clearing and trimming, and covered their costs by what's called "Windblow Clearcutting", which cuts a narrow swath mimicing the effects of a windstorm or avalanche. By the 1980's, the TFL was in such great shape that they brought back the 1920's practice of Highlining.

A mobile tower on a huge excavator base is positioned on a logging road above the base site. A similar tower, along with a power unit is placed downslope in the sorting area. A series of cables is strung between them by helocopter, on which a cable lift system runs.

A tree is selected in the forest and a logger climbs and trims it, while a small crew trims the branches, either as "loglets" for a cogeneration unit at the mill, or through a shredder for mulch, The lift is run up the cable, to a position over the tree, a grapple is lowered and positioned, the tree is cut, lifted, and lowered to the sorting area. It's like helocoter logging but at a fraction of the cost. It's also, not a new technique.

Some times the tree "cherry picked" is one of the older, more valuable trees, sometimes, it's several less valuable trees being cut to make room for an older, more valuable tree to grow. By spending the money on hand clearing, they manage biodiversity. It's pretty much the only place left in the Lower Rainland, where you can find both blue and red huckleberries. Red are pretty common but in the rest of the Lower Mainland the blue's are almost extinct. It's also full of deer, watch out for cougars, birds, etc. By seasonally trimming the growing timber of lower branches and dead branches, the size and number of knots in the trees, is greatly reduced and the value of the timber is greatly increased.

The Company runs 4 TFL's in the LML, one mill, makes a small annual profit, (15%), employs 32 people full time, year round, with good wages and benifits, and the 4 TFL's it acquired, now have 92,876,000 more board feet of timber in them than when acquired, despite roughly 40 years of logging. The logging method minimizes logging roads, prevents slides and erosion, preserves streambeds, and mimic's the natural sucession and growth processes of the Rainforest.

Jay Farquharson said...

Should the Company ever go public, of course, or get taken over by another entity, their TFL's will be immediatly clearcut by subcontracted temps, for a quick cash out worth a couple billion dollars.

Meanwhile, the Company is in negotiations with several of the Salishan Nations to restore some of their traditional rights to use of the land as well as subcontracting possible Nature Tourism Programs to them.

When I fished the Chehalis in the late '90's and early '00's, the canyon stretch below their TFL was my favorite place in the world. I'd drive the East Side FSR to an old skidder road, drive down the skidder road to an old log sorting area on the edge of an old massive clearcut, push my way down to the canyon edge through the debris, scrub and young timber. Once at the canyon edge, there were scramble routes down to the river below, where I could fish down the river, then back up, with my back to a "modern" "managed" forest, facing out on what a teen age Old Growth Forest would have looked like.

All extractive industries in BC, are still managed with a iGold Rush mentality. That is in a large part, not Federal, but Provincial failures. We need to break the boom and bust mentality, and the Province has long needed to manage the resources, first for long term Environmental purposes, second, Treaty Rights, third, long term full time employment.

We have the science, we have the technology, we have the techniques.

That's on us, as BC'ers to do, not the Feds.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anyong. When you went to school it was a much different era. Today they don't even teach cursive writing. You are taught to print and, after that, it's straight to the keyboard.

I recall hearing some teacher in Vancouver explain why Canadian history studies were sharply cut. Because so many of the students, or their parents, were from other countries they thought it was culturally improper to stress Canadian history. Predictable results.

Because Pictures! said...

As for the pipeline, it’s not going to happen and I think they all know it.

FNU LNU said...

I am somewhat confused by your article
I was born n BC and the widely promoted view that BC is an environmental paragon of protecting the environment is complete BS and always has been.
Thanks to Face Book we can now visit BC's record as the worst polluter in Canada. Like it or not the shoe fits so wear it.
FINALLY...a page dedicated to showing the outright hypocrisy that many in BC are guilty of. Share the hell out of this information....

Star Metro found that British Columbia is the nation’s worst offender when it comes to allowing untreated sewage to enter Canadian rivers and oceans. Of the 120 million cubic meters per year in Canada as a
whole, British Columbia is responsible for nearly one-third of the problem. That’s right. That’s 45 billion litres of sewage filled with toxins, heavy metals, microplastics, pharmaceuticals, bacteria and pathogens being dumped into clean water. That’s about
1,900 tankers worth– if you care to do the math on it. It doesn’t include the deliberate dumping of raw sewage by places such as Victoria. This is because of comingled storm sewer and sewer systems getting overwhelmed because of too much rain and runoff. In
Calgary, the equivalent measure is zero.
I know it's not politically correct to tell the truth abut BC - sorry.